Milan Ilich Award Winner for Leadership 2013

Brian Williams, winner of Milan Ilich Leadership Award 2013


How Kindness and Generosity Made My Businesses More Profitable

Published on March, 03 2012 – by Forbes

You know its profitable to be socially-conscious and charitable when big companies make corporate responsibility a priority. Does that sound cynical? Actually, I couldn’t be happier about this development: we all benefit when companies make a sincere effort to contribute more.

If you’re a small business owner, it might seem more difficult to dole out the resources needed to make a positive impact but I guarantee you it’s worthwhile. How do I know? A little while ago, I initiated a campaign called 22 Days of Kindness at the three Booster Juice businesses I owned then. I paid all 50 of my staff members to do shifts where their only duty was to perform random acts of kindness: giving flowers to strangers, washing windows for neighbouring businesses, and generally going out of their way to brighten someone’s day. We then ran a radio campaign to challenge others to Pay it Forward within our community.

Staff engagement
The campaign was a huge hit-my staff loved it because they felt so good making other people happy. This led to increased motivation and productivity at work, and made them proud to work in my shops. I got so many applications from people wanting to work at my businesses, it was easier than ever to hire the cream of the crop and maintain an efficient, happy and loyal crew.

Media coverage
There was so much media coverage of the Kindness campaignmy businesses was in the spotlight on local news stations and newspapers because we gave them a story to cover that was fun, inspiring and positive. To pay for the kind of publicity we received would have cost thousands of dollars.

Community involvement
In my stores, we asked customers to take a 22 Days of Kindness pledge to commit a random act of kindness every day for 22 days. Why 22 days? Because they say it takes 21 days to create a habit. The 22nd day is just icing on the cake. People loved the challenge and told their friends about it, which brought new customers to the shop. I started a website for the campaign and had not only local customers writing in, but people from around the world talking about acts of kindness they had witnessed or performed. A local radio station employee told me he’d never heard so much buzz on the street about a business initiative before.

One of my favourite moments occurred when I was going through a coffee shop drive-through and told the employee there that I wanted to pay for the purchase of the people in the vehicle behind me. He smiled and said I love random acts of kindness like that. Did the guys at Booster Juice inspire you to do this? It made me smile.

Bottom line
There were so many wins from this creative initiative: free advertising for my businesses, more customers, increased loyalty among existing customers, and my staff became even more engaged and motivated. Did all this make my businesses more profitable? You bet. And like any successful entrepreneur, making money is certainly a motivator for me. But the truth is, I measure success on multiple bottom lines, including impact on my team and my community.

If you’re an entrepreneur (or want to be one) I can’t encourage you enough to consider your contribution beyond the products or services you sell. We live in an age where social responsibility is a necessity. Younger generations in particular are choosing their employers and deciding where to spend their paychecks based on how inspired they are by the contributions and impact of the businesses in question. And they have more choices than ever. Making a token charitable donation won’t cut it nowdare to do something truly newsworthy and amazing.

This article reflects what I am hoping to achieve at Ashton Service Group with being involved with the communities we serve in Metro Vancouver. Take a look at our community page.