There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States, creating more than two out of three net new jobs. Many are near our own neighborhoods.

Gearing up for the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, this year on Nov. 30, it is important to remember why small businesses can become the “go to” shopping choice over larger stores and those online — even though those stores or online centers sometimes charge less.

In September 2019, Dimensional Research conducted a survey of 1,001 U.S. consumers to ask how they feel about doing business with small and medium-sized businesses.

Would it surprise you to know that 91% of those consumers prefer doing business with small and medium-sized firms?

A takeaway from this survey jumped off the page to me:

    •    71% said they expected better service and more attention from a small business as a reward for their patronage.

The survey determined that consumers believe small and medium-sized businesses provide better all-around customer service than larger companies. Respondents said small businesses offered the following:

·         Faster response time (53% vs. 23%)

·         Resolution of issues or inquiries (46% vs. 21%)

·         Knowledgeable staff (51% vs. 15%)

·         Flexibility (43% vs. 14%)

·         Ability to foster better customer relationships (50% vs. 23%)

·         Enjoyment of working with staff members (40% vs. 19%)

Just 23% of survey participants said larger companies offering lower prices was a factor in choosing to patronize small businesses. Between now and Thanksgiving, small business owners might want to do a checkup on their customer service. These factors can help to make owning and shopping at a small business an experience everyone will love and remember! We all have another opportunity to become reacquainted with the positive experiences shopping small can provide this year!

Whether you are a supporting shopper or a small business owner, remember that the U.S. Small Business Administration, as an advocate for small businesses, appreciates you. The SBA has marshaled your support for Small Business Saturday each year since our formal co-sponsorship in 2011 with American Express. The SBA encourages you to #ShopSmall and encourage others to do so on Nov. 30 and always. You will be fueling the engine of our economy and showing continued love for the places in your community and neighborhood that you call your own.

More survey results, which I hope small business owners will study as a road map to better sales and customer service, may be found by an internet search of this title: “Big Expectations, Small Businesses: What Customers Want.”

Tom Salisbury is the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Great Plains Region VII, which covers Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. He previously worked as the small-business liaison for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and in lending for UMB Bank. Salisbury can be reached at

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