I have always been an avid supporter of local businesses. give me coffee from a small independent coffee shop over a big global chain any day. I have always liked the idea of thinking for myself and choosing where I want to go and what I want to do based on the quality and merits of an individual or small business rather than going to eat or drink in a multi national corporation because it is a big brand. I often find that in small establishments the quality is better and the service more friendly and personal than when I visit a chain. let me give you this example.
Last week I ate out twice...(lucky me - they were both special occasions in my defence!) the first time was an independent tapas bar in Bognor Regis - I have been here many times. The decor and ambience is fantastic, staff are friendly and there are nice little touches that complete the experience. For example the (very generous) portion of sweets that come with the bill and the 'on the house' night cap that is usually offered at the end of the evening. It is all these aspects that make the meal more enjoyable. You are made to feel welcome and that your custom is valued.
The second time I ate out was at a well know Italian pizza chain whilst I was in Brighton. Firstly, we were squashed in like sardines and I felt as though there was a countdown as to when we needed to leave by. The staff were friendly(ish) but you could tell that working at the establishment was certainly not their vocation. They did not seem to care very much about the brand. There was no atmosphere, no one really cared if we were there or not. there was grains of coffee in the orange juice and no complimentory sweets with the bill. (I am a great one for complimentory sweets).
I have always preferred local to global and I think that in times of recession and austerity it is increasingly important to support local businesses as they are ones that may struggle the most to sustain themselves in times of cutbacks. I have been running Green Clean for around 18 months now. There have been times when I have come up against the 'big boys' of the cleaning market and suffered as a consequence. Either I am not experienced enough or not big enough to be taken seriously. I tendered for a contract a few months ago. I felt cautiously optomistic when the company in question assured me they were looking to work more closely with local SME's in Chichester. I didn't get the contract and the successful contractor, my competitors have their 'local' office in Kent! The irony was not lost on me.
It is frustrating to be pushed on a back burner or not taken seriously because you are a young or small business. Over the past 18 months I have consistently been working to be taken seriously and build up a positive reputation in Chichester and Portsmouth in the cleaning market. Having an eco friendly ethos is helpful but more importantly I need to ensure my services are consistently to a high standard and that we are professional and reliable. I am doing my best to achieve this and have gradually been building up a good reputation in Chichester and Portsmouth. Now that I have my own small business I appreciate even more how important it is to support local! I love it when a customer chooses to work with Green Clean because they like to support local and I love it even more when they recommend us to their friends!
A couple of weeks ago whilst out shopping with my fiancé we made a pact. From now on we would try to only shop, eat and drink in 'local' places and charity shops! I am planning this Christmas to do my best to abide by this. So lets all have a local Christmas! If everyone supports local businesses then we can contribute directly to supporting the local economy and city.
Over the next few weeks in the run up to Christmas I am going to add links to and information about some of my favourite local businesses to this blog. So please get in touch and tell me which local businesses you are supporting this year (apart from Green Clean of course!) and I will add them to this page. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @katierams1 or like us on Facebook at greencleanchichester to get in touch with your top tips!
Lets all think local this Christmas!