Local business owners working together to drive results – and relationships locally
Local Business Staying Local
For the longest time, Krystal Yates found herself bumping into a fellow small-business owner named Terry in the hallway of their shared office space in Lewisville. They couldn’t have been more different – Yates is a Human Resources consultant and Terry a financial advisor. Their conversations were also short and only consisted of small talk near the coffee machine.
But one day, Terry began asking Krystal a few HR-related questions.
“He’s a super-nice guy, and the questions he was asking weren’t anything big. But he thought to ask me because, well, he saw me every day,” said Yates, who owns EBR Consulting, LLC. “In the past, he might have tried to handle it on his own, but he felt like he knew me.”
Yates’ story is a perfect example of small-business owners building relationships with one another on a grassroots level, and there’s never been a better time than now to make new connections. In her case, what started as a run-of-the-mill conversation in a hallway could lead to Terry needing help onboarding new employees. In turn, Yates might turn to Terry for help with retirement planning. At a minimum, each can be a referral source for the other. And who knows, they may end up having a mutual client someday.
Yates said building relationships with other business owners have organically brought her big results. One hundred percent of the HR-related business she gets is a combination of networking and referrals. Simply put: it’s the lifeblood of her business – and she’s not the only one saying that.
Lone Star Business reached out to several small-business owners and community officials over the last month and was met with a slew of similar stories of partnership and engagement. Local insurance agents, for example, have close-knit relationships with roofers, mortgage officers, and even realtors; roofers also have relationships with gutter companies and foundation repair experts.
And the kicker? They do it on a local level – constantly seeking out ways to promote each other, pass the business on, and engage in their community. Rather than working with a big-box company on the other side of the Metroplex, they create a turnkey product for clients right in their backyard.
“If anything, they’re thinking of me,” Yates said. “And I am thinking of them.”
So how do they get the most out of their business opportunities?
Steve Holzwarth, a realtor with Kevin Lewis Properties, says it’s all about being active in the community and being open to relationship building. Holzwarth is currently the president of the Lake Cities Chamber of Commerce and has served on the executive board for the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce.
Holzwarth is one of many business owners who make a habit of attending networking events, ribbon cuttings, mixers, and lunch-and-learns. These same business owners spend time serving on various charity boards together and getting involved in organizations such as Rotary and the Lions Club.
“Maybe I’m old school, but I still believe in referring, accountability, honesty, and integrity,” Holzwarth said. “If I need a local insurance guy or a plumber, I know I already have relationships with those guys. At the same time, the more active I am, the more people know who I am. We’re all out there trying to build relationships. I enjoy that.”
“The really successful business people are the ones who have the mindset of, ‘What can I do for you?’ or ‘How can I help you?’” Yates said. “They focus on that instead of, ‘what do you have for me?’”
While business owners doing business with other business owners is far from a novel concept, there are a growing number of businesses and local community leaders actively seeking out ways to provide more options to bring those business owners together.
Lake Dallas Mayor Michael Barnhart and wife Suzanne have created a Facebook group called What’s Happening – Lake Cities as a one-stop information source for promoting various events, charity organizations, and business owners in Corinth, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas, and Shady Shores. Barnhart said bringing something like this to the community has been gratifying.
“In the beginning, it was there for the entertainment and event side of things. Now you see the business side, too,” Barnhart said. “My feeling is that if we don’t promote the small businesses that are already here, we can’t expect new businesses to come in. I also think there’s been a changing of the tide. It’s gotten to the point
where people are thinking, ‘if I can send someone to you, then you might do that for me.’ In the past, maybe more business owners were only concerned with me and mine.”
Lone Star Business also has a Facebook group to help local business owners. They will be sharing events, education and more. We welcome all business owners to the group!
PointBank, which is Denton County’s oldest community bank, sponsors monthly business networking breakfasts at most of its nine locations within the county. These morning gatherings bring business owners together and provide an opportunity to hear a subject matter expert discuss relevant business topics at each event.
Typically, each branch pulls in as many as 20 to 30 business owners at each breakfast. They’re open to the public, and those who attend consistently come back because of the relationships they build.
“We are simply creating a venue for all of that to take place at, and it’s been an honor to be there in the middle of it and watch it all grow,” PointBank president Ray David Jr. said. “The way I see it, you should be doing business locally for the same reason you would want people to do business with you in return. If you are a local business and you’re doing business locally, it circles back to you. It’s a win-win scenario.”
Cathy Ueckert, an Executive Vice President at PointBank, agreed.
“So much of it is the desire to do business with people you trust, and it’s gratifying to be a part of a community bank that wants to promote that,” Ueckert said. “People are always asking for referrals from people they know, whether they’re looking for a doctor or an IT guy. They don’t want to call a 1-800 number. They want personal relationships.”
The moral of the story? If you’re a small-business owner and you’re not developing relationships in your backyard, you’re missing out.
“You have to keep money local, right? That’s what it’s all about,” Yates said. “I take care of local business owners around me and hope that it comes back in return. Local business owners are far more willing to work with you and build that relationship – because they see your potential as a business owner, too.”