FASTSIGNS franchisee Renee Friedman explains how supporting charitable events has helped her increase customer loyalty.
Renee Friedman has been with FASTSIGNS since 1987. It was actually her second job right out of college — she bought the rights to a location in Orlando, Florida in 2001 and has since won awards such as the “Show Us How You Care Award” at FASTSIGNS’ 2018 Annual Conference, Best Buddies Florida 2017 Community Champion and 2017 Business Owner of the Year from the Orlando Business Journal.
1851 spoke with Friedman to learn more about her decision to support her local community through her role as a franchisee.
How important is it to give back to your community as it relates to growing your business?
I believe that giving back to your community is important to help grow your business. It gives people a different perspective about your company. It is good for public relations and makes people think we do more than just sell signs. I think that giving back to the community helps shape how people think about me and my company.
What local or charitable outreach efforts have you made in order to connect with your local community?
I am Jewish, so I tend to give back to the Jewish community a lot. I am very involved with the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation in Orlando. I am also involved with the Friends of Down Syndrome. My niece has Down Syndrome and that is how I started getting involved. I participate in the Friends of Down Syndrome Cinderella Ball every year. It is a huge fundraiser with over 400 people. The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando also has a program called RAISE that helps place those with disabilities in jobs across the community. This program actually helped me hire someone with Down Syndrome in my store. I have also had the opportunity to help place three other people in jobs within the community.
What are your top ideas or tips to market your local business?
I think you need to figure out what you are passionate about and look at being a sponsor for an event. This helps you get visibility in a positive light. When a charity is having an event, we will also give them promotional items with our logo on them that they can give out. In the past, we have given out golf tee bags or hand sanitizer and put our logos on them. I am also a corporate sponsor for RAISE. The director at RAISE talks about me to potential clients all the time and helps get the word out.
How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?
I think that charitable efforts are important in growing your business. I give special pricing and discounts to non-profit organizations, so they definitely think about me when they are looking for signage. I think that being involved in the community has helped increase business and customer loyalty.
What advice would you give to other franchisees who are just starting their businesses to best set themselves up for success on the local level?
The best thing you can do is go out and meet as many people you can in the community. Put yourself out there and be genuine and honest. I used to think that I was just thought of as the “Sign Lady”, and then I realized how much I was actually helping all of these companies and organizations. As a new company, just do a little bit. You do not have to give a lot of money, but be a part of something and be present in your community. I think always push forward. That is what got me here over all of those years. Pushing forward and being positive.