Here are some tested tips to ask business owners to volunteer on Fair day. It can be tricky asking the business community to volunteer since they should also be pretty busy on Festival day. The trick is to make them realize that their efforts could also be a way to market their business. Be sure to mention the opportunity to interact with their potential customers.
The best way to get anyone involved is to look them in the eye when asking. Unfortunately, that’s a slow process but talk to the people in the area that you do know and directly ask them to help on a specific task, at a specific time. It makes it easier if you do some pre-leg work and note opening & closing times for businesses on that day. Ask them if they know another business in the area that might be interested in helping out too.
Here are a few ways that I have found that work well to engage store owners and managers on Fair day:
- Help at the Festival for an hour before opening (or starting a shift) at their store. Meet the customers in your neighborhood by helping be a greeter, set up, and decorating for the Festival.
- Bring snacks, drinks or cooling fans to the volunteer and vendor check in tent before their stores open.
- Draw a map from their store to the Festival site, encourage & point customers to go there.
- Offer merchandise, on make a display, just inside store entry that ties to the Festival theme.
- Stop by for an hour after closing their business and help with clean up or returning equipment.
- Make it shine – Ask business owners and managers to sweep, wash windows and pick up litter around their stores.
- Take a bag of garbage – Ask them to take one bag of garbage and put in their dumpster reducing clean up expenses and mess.
- Advertise – Put Festival poster in windows, print & give flyers to all customers the week before.
- Promote online – Add a blurb & link about the Festival (pre-write this) to put on the bottom of all their emails they send the week before.
- Help with thank you notes and follow up by sending pictures to media or post online in their favorite social media sites.
- Evaluate success by reporting numbers of customers during Festival day or any comments you may have heard.
Bridget Bayer, principal of BAM, is an independent consultant for Main Street Associations and Business District Organizations offering hands on operational support for existing and start-up groups, specializing in building community through events.