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Small Businesses in Southwest Iowa struggle with high gas prices.

What is good about rising gas prices??

Nothing.  But there could be a slight silver lining.  Bad situations create new problems.  And for every new problem there is a new business idea or new way for you to conduct your existing business.

The high cost of oil seems to be causing something of a panic in consumers and is starting to affect their spending habits. Let’s face it.  It is on all of our minds.  It is on the news every evening. It has become normal small talk. “Nice weather. How about those gas prices?!”

It is a bit of scary time to either start a business or continue to run a business.  However, this should not be a time for business owners to panic. This should be a time that owners reevaluate their business models and the services and products that they sell.

Think about your business and/or your industry.  How can you be socially responsible and make it easier on your consumers during these tough times?  Think out of the box.  This is the time to do something that has never been done in your industry. This is the time to stand out from the crowd, help out your consumer in a socially responsible way and become the leader in your industry (or at least your town).

Here a few ideas I mustered up as I drove 375 miles across country this weekend to see my family.  Some of these ideas may not be logical. Some may seem silly.  One of them may just work. 

If you are a restaurant, grocery store or retail store, consider adding a delivery service. Some businesses may be in panic mode and may cut out delivery service.  If the extra sales will outweigh the extra costs it will be worth it to add it in.

If you serve a fairly small geographic area, consider employing bicycle or scooter delivery persons. This will cut your costs as well as save the customer from having to come to your business. Plus it will give your customers the message that you care about the environment. Make sure your logos and message are on the bikes.

If you are a grocery store or retailer, sell or offer  FREE bags that are bike or walker friendly. Many of us are willing to walk.  Take away the problem of the awkward walk or ride back home.   See if you can find bags from a promotional business that could be worn on your back or are made to drape over the handle bars. Market them this way and make sure you include your logo.

Partner with gas stations and offer gas discounts for every $10 purchased.

Start a carpool network service.

Offer discounts for your products or services in exchange for bus passes or taxi fare.  (If a bus ticket costs $2 one way to get to your business, offer $4 off a purchase of $20 or more.)

A homebuilder or real estate agent could offer a free report on their website on 10 tips to save fuel. The report should be downloadable in exchange for a few details (customer name and e-mail).

PLEASE feel free to add to this list by clicking the comment button below.  

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