Doing "good" as a business strategy

April 16, 2015

In 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce. Studies have shown that Millennials differ from other generational groups in that they are more adaptable and keep up-to-date with emerging technology. They are also driving snacking and purchasing trends in retail and our own industry. They are also overwhelmingly interested in businesses improving society through social actions. In fact, Deloitte found that the majority of them believe business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.

This idea of doing “good” isn’t new, but it’s becoming more important, and it’s not hard to see why. While we’re in the business of products and profits, we are first and foremost in the business of people. Without customers the industry wouldn’t exist. Perhaps it’s time to start making philanthropy a part of your business strategy, if you don’t already.

Making it part of the strategy

Last week a convenience store magazine sent a daily newsletter with a fact that read, “52 percent of convenience stores contribute up to 5 percent of their profits to charity.” Popular c-stores such as Sheetz, Wawa, Quick Trip all feature charitable initiatives both in their stores and on their Websites. Other retailers with charitable initiatives include Starbucks, Whole Foods and Target to name a few. Not only do they focus on charitable initiatives, but they also market their initiatives to their customers.

Paul Schlossberg, industry veteran and contributing editor for VMW wrote in an email to me on this subject that, “Young people (Gen X, Y and Millennial) have high expectations that the businesses where they spend money are doing "good" things. If not they will seek other businesses to spend their money.” This includes the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry as well. I’ve seen one vending company with a vending machine wrap that said a certain percent of money made from the consumer's purchase would go towards a local charity. Even if you don’t want to do that particular act, there are plenty of ways operators can make doing “good” part of their business strategy.

Get the ball rolling

Doing “good” doesn’t have to just mean donating to charity or volunteering around the community. For starters, operators can think about energy management controls on vending machines or coordinate with location management about offering recycling. Operations could donate close-to-code date products or offer sustainable product alternatives such as in the coffee segment.

A few weeks ago VMW featured a story on how going green helped Coffee Distributing Corp.’s bottom line. The company added solar panels to its roof, replaced vehicles with more fuel-efficient models, overhauled its lighting system and provided locations with containers for single-serve recycling.

On the other hand, part of doing “good” also includes community volunteering or donating, which many vending companies already do. (See how Lincoln County Vending in Fayetteville, TN, makes philanthropy part of its business strategy.)

Create a tab on your Website dedicated to your business strategy of doing “good” or promote that strategy on your Facebook page. When you go into a location, show them the ways your business is making a difference. Show them your initiatives and offer ways in which you can help them cut down on waste or conserve energy. Doing good can be rewarding personally, and also with increased profits.