When we spend money at our favorite local bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurants, a higher percentage of money stays in the community. When we patronize big-box retailers, however, a much smaller portion gets recycled back into the local economy. The latter leads to more corporate consolidation, which sets off a chain reaction of higher inequality, more depressed neighborhood economies, and so on.
Local establishments are the lifeblood of any local community. To keep the lights on, these businesses rely largely on their regular customers, who generally account for 80% of revenues. Regulars, therefore, are the key to local economic growth. We must do more to help train business owners on the best strategies to retain, nurture, and grow their Regulars. Relentlessly.
How do we do that? One is by helping business owners and their staff conduct experiments with their Regulars to learn which strategies work the best. Should Regulars be incentivized with deals to come more often and bring new people to the store? What about a share of new revenue? Are some Regulars willing to step it up and play more responsible and functional roles in helping the business with marketing? Are they willing to be an on-demand sales force?
Given their critical roles in society, Regulars must be empowered and incentivized in new ways, and on a regular basis. Furthermore, employees of a local business should be rewarded (e.g. financially) for managing the vital communication with Regulars, on ways to generate more business, whether through new revenue streams, group deals, events, marketing campaigns, etc. Regulars are the new advertising.
If we can create a successful system around a community's local business Regulars, then we are one step closer to building a prosperous model for local economic growth and sustainability for countless neighborhoods.