It’s no secret that nowadays, in order for your business to stand out against close competitors, especially amongst the millennial and upcoming zoomer generations, doing good and being visible can give your business an advantage that benefits both your business and community growth. There are a number of recent consumer studies published that support this claim, but today we would like to explore a real-life example of how one business’ commitment to doing good for their community led us to choose them over the rest. Here’s the backstory.
We—seedership co-founders Ray Smithberger and I—were participating in a festival as sponsors and wanted branded seedership T-shirts to wear during the event. We were looking for a vendor that would provide a quality product, good service, and, of course, a competitive price. We reached out to a national company that we had previously worked with for a quote, and their price seemed fair, so we were planning on moving forward with them.
That same week, we happened to have a meeting with a nonprofit in Franklinton, a neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, to get their perspective on our platform. During the meeting, one of the participants shared with us that they also ran a social enterprise that produced branded materials for businesses and they could help us with printing T-shirts. We decided we would see what they could offer for our shirt order.
They listened to our needs, helped us with product selection and even improved our shirt design concept. By the time they turned around an estimate for us, they had already gained our trust and we were ready to order from them.
We were happy with the experience and wanted to learn more about them, so after the festival in Franklinton, after we picked up our shirts, we arranged a tour of their facility. That was when we learned more about who HireLevel Promotions, a branch of HireLevel Enterprises, were, more about their cause, and other reasons to feel good about doing business with them.
You see, HireLevel Promotions is not just a promotional product manufacturer. They operate with a bigger purpose, like so many small businesses we have met. Their mission is to serve the Franklinton community before anything else. Along with offering quality products and services at competitive prices, they also provide young people living in at-risk neighborhoods the chance to learn from business mentors and get some real employment experience to prepare them for their future careers. I can’t share how overjoyed we were that our purchase was able to double for a good cause. To help youth who want to create a better life for themselves.
On the tour, we were given the opportunity to talk with one of their onsite mentors and a few teens to learn about how working there helped them overcome the limited opportunities of their circumstances. The shop manager and mentor Eric Wagner shared with us that for many of these kids, it’s the first time they have someone who has expectations on them. Who wants more from them, holds them accountable and disciplines them. Someone who believes in them. He also shared that when companies make purchases from them, it’s a show of confidence they have in the youth.
Everyone working at the facilities were confident, focused, and proud of their work, we could tell that it was an environment that thrived on positivity. All in all, after learning more about HireLevel Promotions’ purpose, we felt really good about doing business with them.
Now, well after the purchase was made and the tour of their facility, every time we wear our branded shirts made by HireLevel Promotions we are reminded of how this business is doing good beyond providing quality products, services, and prices. Even though the shirts are made of comfortable cotton, they just feel better to wear knowing they helped a young person along the path of a brighter tomorrow. What’s more, it was encouraging to witness the fact that so many businesses and clients placed their trust in these teens.
We followed up our visit with a discussion with HireLevel Promotions Social Enterprise Director Keith Wong to learn more about the organization’s purpose and how they are striving to make a difference in the Franklinton community. Of their business, Wong identifies Central Ohio Youth for Christ, the parent organization of HireLevel Promotions, as a for-profit social enterprise with a mission to employ and empower at-risk youth in Franklinton in addition to providing the highest quality of embroidery at competitive prices.
Wong went on to share the purpose behind hiring at-risk youth is to provide them with professional skills to prepare them for a career in business. He told us that 10 years ago, the organization noticed the challenges at-risk teens had when looking for employment in the community. These kids came from a difficult upbringing, and at times did not have the experience or professional skills needed to even get started as an employee.
After seeing what difficulties the young adults of Franklinton were facing, HireLevel Promotions took up the charge and committed to helping them and making a difference in their futures. According to Wong, HireLevel has many business mentors on staff that work with young employees to ensure they are getting guidance at each step of the way.
HireLevel Promotions highlights 15 key professional skills they mentor their employees on including reliability, work ethic, punctuality, discipline, teamwork, collaboration, professionalism, learning agility, critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, creativity and innovation, oral and written communication, digital technology, and career management. These skills are all critical for success when transitioning to the national job market.
Mr. Wong told us that the positions these young people fill at the embroidery shop at HireLevel Promotions are meant to be a “through workforce,” meaning their ultimate goal is to give the teens a path to a career where they can pursue the professional passions of their choosing. Since opening their shop 8 years ago, Wong estimates they have employed and mentored more than 40 teens. Not only are they preparing their employees for their careers, they also have made recommendations for employment to other businesses in the Franklinton community creating a type of community employment network so everyone can benefit from their time working at HireLevel Promotions.
On the surface-level, when we set out on our t-shirt vendor hunt we were only looking to compare prices amongst vendors. But when we discovered HireLevel Promotion’s purpose and experienced their quality products and customer service, we were completely sold on them. This is just a personal example of how doing good for the community gives businesses an advantage over the competition. But, it is also an example of how making the good you do visible for consumers to find when they research your organization, can also influence a purchasing decision.
Our story is a reflection of how your customers are looking for more from the businesses they support. Your customers compare many things about a product, service, or organization before they make a purchase decision. Making the good your business does for your community—whether it’s providing a stable work environment for teens who need it, or if you are running a collection drive or fundraising event for a cause you support—a highly visible component of your community story, can be the deciding factor for your customers.
Do you have a community story like HireLevel Promotions? We know that small businesses like yours are doing good for your communities every day, and we want to help you share your impact so that you and your community can grow. With seedership, you can track, measure, and share the stories of how your business is helping your community. Our storytelling platform is easy to use, all you do is enter a few key details about your acts of kindness and we will help you create emotional stories you can share with your customers.