Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are in a generous mood. People think more about others this time of the year. Charitable opportunities proliferate, but so do needs.

One way to help those less fortunate in your community while also helping your company is to start a food drive. Because they physically call on people at their homes, service companies are in a unique position to conduct food drives. Many people are more than happy to help in this
manner, especially since it requires little effort and is low cost (i.e., there is not much of a commitment).

Give consumers an incentive to be generous. Offer $1 off a service ticket for each can of food donated, up to $5. Of course, your technicians will take more food, if the consumer wishes to donate it.

At the end of every week, take the food collected to a local food bank. Make sure you take pictures of a uniformed technician carrying the food,
unloading it from one of your trucks, etc.

Before you start, contact the local food bank. Tell them your idea and that you would like their permission to use their name in promoting it, such as "ABC Services is collecting food for XYZ Food Pantry." Also, tell them you'll be happy to pick up food between service calls if the food
bank calls you with an address.

Write to the ministers at local churches to inform them of the food drive. Make sure it's clear that you are conducting the drive with the food
bank
. Some will ignore the letter. Others will include it in the church bulletins. A few might even announce it.

Send a press release to the local announcing the food drive and weekly updates (including pictures) of the amount of food you've collected. Get
quotes from the manager of the food bank.

Yes, it's somewhat self promotional. It's also helping to fill a need. Remember, your company's generosity cannot exceed it's prosperity.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.