Franchisee Justin Bobin explains why it’s important to give back to the local community his business calls home.
The Bridgeport Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise location was recently recognized with the brand’s National Community Service Award. Owner Justin Bobin is the man behind his restaurant’s continued outreach in its decade in business. It’s that experience and commitment to community involvement that inspired 1851 to speak with Bobin to learn more about his decision to support charities and how his community outreach is also helping to build his business.
How important is it to give back to your local community as it relates to growing your business?
It’s huge. Every year we fundraise for a certain project it gets more traction and makes more money. If the fundraiser is growing, that’s also getting more people in the door and more people seeing our brand. It’s growing brand awareness. It doesn’t have to be money raised in store to get our name out. We started doing the Polar Plunge with a local water polo team. The first year we raised roughly $1,500 to $2,000 dollars. This year, we raised roughly $8,000 dollars. I think customers like to support local businesses that have close ties to the community. Our franchise wants to provide our community with more than just a fun atmosphere and good food.
What local or charitable outreach efforts have you made in order to connect with your local community?
We are involved with several area charities. We’ve been a part of the polar plunge for many years. That one is personal because my wife has been involved with St. Jude for many years. A local boys’ water polo team wanted us to sponsor them for the Polar Plunge, so we said yes if they fundraised for the event. They came out to the restaurant for a few nights and invited their friends and family to come out and support the cause. They brought in lots of good foot traffic and it helped them reach their goal. One group made $5,000 in just three hours by talking to different customers. As a family, we started getting involved with the Special Olympics a few years back and then got our Buffalo Wings and Rings crew involved as well. Recently, we added the Greater Chicago Food Depository to the list. They do monthly food drops and hand out fresh veggies and fruit. These foods aren’t always easily accessible to low-income families. We’ve volunteered with them a few times.
What are your top ideas or tips to market your local business?
For our 10-year anniversary, we are celebrating 10 years in the community by giving away 10 percent of our proceeds every day to a different Chicagoland charity. We are excited to be able to give back as part of our anniversary and solidify our location as being active in the community. I think it will help put us more on the map in terms of Chicago restaurants, and people tied to the different charity will walk through our door to check us out, hopefully coming back in the future.
How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?
I think they are very effective. It has to happen organically, though. Building relations and making time to get to know your customers on a deeper level builds repeat customers. We can provide a great atmosphere with great food, but a great conversation and good customer service can go just as far. If people remember you for your work in the community, that’s icing on the cake.
What advice would you give to other franchisees who are just starting their businesses to best set themselves up for success?
What clicked for me was how to use the business to multiply the efforts of a charitable cause. I use the business like a blow horn to promote and bring attention to needs in the community. We have a customer base and I have this opportunity to share the cause with this platform. I’m also asking my staff to get involved. I’m putting my effort where my mouth is. It creates a culture of respect and giving. If we can make customers feel that we want more than just to take their money, they will more likely return. Being involved puts a brand out there, and helps advertise the heart of the business. That alone will take the business to new heights