May is over and with it, Memorial Day, when we remember those who lost their lives defending our country. Veterans Day (November 11), set aside to celebrate those who serve or have served in the armed forces, is five months away. However, small businesses can—and probably should—honor military personnel not only on or around these two days but throughout the year. Here’s how.
Offer year-round discounts on goods and services.
But don’t stop there: Consider extending any available discounts beyond veterans and active military to the families of veterans and active military. It’s a good-will gesture many enlisted individuals and veterans will appreciate, especially if, as is the case for many, they are struggling to make ends meet on one salary or retirement benefits.
Publicize any and all discounts on your operation’s website, as well as through social media outlets like Facebook and even in local newspaper advertisements. Using signage to get the word out is also a good idea. At one restaurant frequented by some of us at E-Complish, a sign positioned prominently in the window lets passers-by (and potential customers) know that veterans and active military personnel enjoy 10 percent off their check every day of the year.
Sponsor a local military family.
Leaving one’s family behind at home ranks among the most difficult parts of active military duty. However, military spouses and children don’t have it easy, either—from a financial and emotional standpoint alike. That’s where sponsoring a military family comes in—instead of providing only the above-mentioned deals to all military families, choose one with a member on active duty. Collect donations for the spouse and children from customers, your employees, and other businesses in the community. You can also provide free services to your sponsored family, such as meals, haircuts, home repair, and the like.
Hire a veteran.
Have an open slot in your business’s ranks, or about to have one? See if a veteran can do the job. This is a great way to honor veterans while benefitting your organization. In fact, according to a study by Payscale, the military instills in enlisted personnel character and personality traits that can benefit small businesses, including leadership, control under pressure, teamwork orientation and dedication, integrity, and an ongoing focus on goals. The U.S. Department of Labor has put together an employer toolkit whose contents are designed to help business owners who want to employ veterans, those who were wounded in battle, and active military service members who are completing their final tour of duty.
Support veteran-owned businesses.
If you can’t hire a veteran right now—and even if you can—support one of the estimated 2.52 million veteran-owned businesses currently operating in the U.S. How? Just patronize such an establishment to fulfill one or more of your operation’s needs. For example, if you need to print signage or circulars, find a veteran-owned print shop, and if you’re looking for a commercial cleaning contractor, engage one that’s run by a veteran. Find local veteran-owned businesses here or through your community’s Chamber of Commerce.
Make a donation.
Organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Second Chance provide a wealth of support to veterans and their families during and after the transition to civilian life. Harness in-store signage, social media, and/or email to spread the word to your customers that a portion of their purchases are helping veterans in the form of donations to one of these organizations.
Fly the flag.
Properly displaying the U.S. flag outside your establishment isn’t just for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. To many people, and perhaps, particularly to older veterans, it’s a way to honor military personnel.
Make no mistake, Memorial Day and Veterans Day are very important, and honoring veterans, lost enlisted personnel, and individuals on active duty on each of these days is important. However, going the extra mile by doing something special for this same population every month of the year not only bodes well for business; it’s the right thing to do.