In honor of Veterans Day, NFIB presents a series of profiles featuring veterans who run successful small businesses. NFIB member Kimberly Gillard honors her father’s military service by offering discounts to veterans.
Though Kimberly Gillard has never served in uniform, she has an abiding respect for those who have, and she has taken pains to show that respect in the way she runs Mower Doctor, a lawn-equipment dealership in the Kansas City suburbs that she owns with her husband, Mark.
Maybe it’s her dad’s experience that helps keep veterans foremost in her mind: He served in the famous Bay of Pigs operation. “He is in his early 70s now, he’s getting around pretty slow, has some health issues. But I want him to know that he is not forgotten, that his sacrifices are still appreciated,” she says. “People may lose a little bit of self worth as they age, and so I bring it up often to him, so that he can realize that what he did was something great.”
For others who served, Gillard offers a practical gesture of gratitude, giving them substantial discounts on commercial lawnmowers that can run $6,000 to $7,000 retail.
“I was disappointed when the manufacturers discontinued their contributions to the veterans, so after a few years, I decided to run my own special,” she says.
“I feel like our veterans work hard to maintain our freedom. In this day and age, it’s even tougher for them, and I do appreciate what they have done for us. I have a lot of customers from the older generation who come in with their veteran caps on. They still have some pride, and I want to show them that we care.”
She makes the discount highly visible. It’s posted on the company’s website, and it comes up in sales discussions. “I don’t have a sign everywhere, just a flag hanging in the store, but when we start to talk price, we will ask if they are a veteran, and usually it sparks conversations about their service,” she says. “My salesman is an Army vet, and so they will end up talking about where they have been, their time period in the service”
Is it a business win? Maybe, but that isn’t really the point. “Of course it eats into the bottom line of the sale, but I feel if we dedicate this discount to this particular model that is purchased most commonly by the older people, that is a good fit. It’s probably not going to make a sale that we wouldn’t have anyway, but it is something we like to do.”
RELATED: 6 ways small Businesses Can Give Back to Their Community
Read Next: More profiles of small business veterans »