Community-Focused Franchisee Profile: Sharon Barhorst
Community-Focused Franchisee Profile: Sharon Barhorst

1851 Franchise Magazine connects with an all-star Welcomemat Services franchisee to hear more about her involvement within her local community.

A large portion, and arguably the most important aspect, of owning a local business is becoming engrained within your local community. Getting to know the local residents and supporting neighborhood businesses allows franchisees to build a loyal customer base that will stick with them for the long-term. 1851 Franchise Magazine connected with Welcomemat Services Bradenton Franchisee Sharon Barhorst for more insight into how she has found success by becoming a true member of her local community.

How important is it to give back to your local community as it relates to growing your business?

Sharon Barhorst, Welcomemat Services Franchisee: At Welcomemat Services, the brand’s core values are centered around giving back to your local community. I have been very blessed in my business, and I believe that if all business owners put more attention toward giving back to their community, their businesses would grow like mine has. The more I have given to others in my community, the more good things have come back to me - which has turned into loyal customers and success at my location. Since I joined the Welcomemat Services team, it has been such a pleasure to get to know the wonderful people of my community and help them find businesses that they can become loyal customers to.

What local or charitable outreach efforts have you made in order to connect with your local community?

Barhorst: Since I opened my business, the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce has been a crucial player to get me connected with my local community. The Chamber will connect you with local business owners in the market so that we can all work together on a larger scale. I also led a very large community event for 500 homeless children, from 2010 to 2015, as well as served on the board of the American Red Cross. Currently, I sit on the board of the Bradenton Kiwanis Foundation, as well as have served on the board of the Habitat for Humanity Restore Spaces event for the past three years. Looking ahead, I will also be hosting an event in the fall at a local restaurant for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

What are your top ideas or tips to market your local business?

Barhorst: Over the years, I have found that supporting local charity events not only helps you give back to the community, but is also a wonderful opportunity to meet other business owners that also volunteer their services. My current customers admire my participation, and I am able to attract future customers by building new connections. They know that in buying in with Welcomemat Services they are going to get this same community-focused service. My model has always been to promote other businesses first, and then focus on my own.

How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?

Barhorst: It’s impossible to support all of the charities that need your help. I try to limit my efforts to one or two key charities that I have a real passion for so that I can put everything I have behind them. When I sign a new agreement at my Welcomemat Services business, I always mention my charitable involvement because I think it tells a lot about who I am as a person, and how I lead my business. In the past, I’ve even had my clients participate in various charity events that I am leading. When they participate in these events, their businesses have grown, further strengthening our relationship between client and vendor.

What advice would you give other franchisees who are just starting their business to best set themselves up for success on the local level?

Barhorst: The first thing I would do is become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, and then served on a committee that reflects an area that you have interest in. I suggest you sign up for any and all charity work, but make sure to pick something that is something you are passionate about. Volunteering is such a morale booster and makes you feel great as a person, and indirectly it will help you grow and sustain a successful business.