Ever try to return an item to IKEA? Have you ever tried to change your order on Door Dash? Have you ever tried to speak to a real person at Verizon?
Not too successful, eh? What these three companies have in common is partially what makes them impersonal: they have no local roots. With a complicated corporate structure and rules, large businesses give staff little empowerment to solve problems. No two problems are alike, and if a particular concern or request is not in the rule book, it must go up a chain of individuals with no connection to you or the community.
At local businesses, there’s no having to ask corporate or call the home office. Our home office is our own desk.
America has been powered since its founding by local businesses. These businesses are owned and run by neighbors, friends, community members. While local businesses may not have glitzy signs or marketing materials, they provide benefits and a level of service that no large company can match.
First is understanding the client’s needs. Using the veterinary world as an example, vaccinations vary based upon geography and risk assessment. A blanket policy for different areas is simply ignoring what is the concern right here, where it matters most. The needs of Boston or Los Angeles are not the same as Washington, DC. It is important that medicine be tailored based upon local factors, not an average of disparate communities. Pets living in the Brookland neighborhood or other wooded areas have different needs than those downtown.
Our neighborhoods have character all their own. When you walk into a corporate conglomerate, everything appears the same, including the fake plants. At many corporate businesses, every space is contrived to maximize profits and efficiency and avoid individualism. Your local businesses are an image of their founders, of their communities. And I bet the plants are real.
We feel warmth when we see friendly, familiar faces in our community businesses. Those of us who own or work locally feel a pride that no chain business can imbue. We know our clients (human and furred) and neighbors personally. When clients call a local business, they hear the same voices; when visiting, see familiar faces. We establish relationships that are personal and not superficial. When your family expands, we celebrate. When you lose your mom, we comfort and mourn. We are a big city, but a small town, too.
We shop here, eat at area restaurants, purchase books at the bookstore. We depend upon the same services as the rest of the community and are active members of local life. When the PTA is having an auction, local businesses give back, providing donations to support our children. Need a speaker at an event? Local businesses will try their best to help. Same with career day.
Local business is good for the economy. Consider taxes. Yes, taxes. Local businesses pay tax right here, benefiting the coffers that support our schools, civic operations, government and more. Out-of-District corporations export their tax dollars to other jurisdictions, depriving the residents of needed funds. The Small Business Administration states that 20% more revenue stays in a local community from small businesses than larger corporations.
Support your local businesses, whether the vendors at Eastern Market plant store or the kitchen supply shop, Italian restaurant, bakery or clothier. Before using your computer and pulling up Amazon or Chewy, ask if you are being local and supporting your neighbors. And ask if you are getting friendly service with a genuine smile.
We at District Vet are proud to be local members of our community.
Dan Teich, DVM, is medical director at District Veterinary Hospital Eastern Market.