Why It’s Good Business to Give Back

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By Keith Novotny, Franchise Owner of Cousins Subs restaurants in Kewaskum and West Bend, Wisconsin

Growing up in the small town of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, I saw firsthand the profound impact charitable contributions have on my community. From Piggly Wiggly to Drexel Building Supply, large corporations made donations to address community needs to improve its vitality.  

At 16-years-old, I started my career with Cousins Subs; a company with more than 40-years of commitment to giving back to its communities. "When our communities are in need, we offer support." That's a core piece of the company's mission statement. Cousins Subs has a long-standing commitment to addressing the vital community needs of hunger, youth education and health and wellness in the hundreds of communities it calls home across the Midwest. What's unique, however, is that Cousins Subs empowers franchise owners, crew members and corporate support staff to develop their own community partnerships to improve the health and well-being of the neighborhoods we live and work in and provides the framework and resources to do so. 

As a franchise owner who employs high school students in my stores, I am dedicated to improving students' access to educational resources. To raise money for school books and educational class trips, I host donation nights or days at my restaurants. Through this fundraiser, a portion of all sales generated in a set period of time goes back to the benefiting organization. To date, I have proudly donated more than $10,000 to support youth education. Additionally, I award students with free sub coupons when they read over the summer months through a partnership with the West Bend Community Library and Kewaskum Library. I’ve awarded more than 300 free sub coupons to area students since the start of the partnership. 

I believe providing vital community support shouldn’t start and end with myself. That’s why I empower my crew members to turn their passion into action and give back to the community. My crew members are passionate about sports. To show them how easy and impactful it is to support young athletes in their community, we provide discounted and nutritious meals for West Bend and Kewaskum sports teams to enjoy before, after or in between games.

Just as us business owners are aware of, the unexpected happens. What I've learned is guests in my community often do not have the financial support they need to effectively manage through crisis. That’s where my crew members and I step in. We host donation days or nights to benefit community members in need. Throughout my 17 years as a Cousins Subs restaurant owner, I’ve held many donation days and nights to raise money for children, families and seniors. Some have suffered a tragedy, while others need financial assistance to offset the cost of medical support needed while battling a life-altering illness. By supporting the community that supports me, I not only make a big difference, but I also teach an important lesson to my crew members. 

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Positively impacting the West Bend and Kewaskum communities doesn't solely take place within my store walls. I am a proud sponsor of the ‘Do Good Bus’ in Washington County. Volunteers ride the 'Do Good Bus' to travel to and from different community organizations and destinations to volunteer and perform good deeds. Recognizing an opportunity to reward volunteerism, I asked to become the official food sponsor. After their hard work, volunteers enjoy Cousins Subs at no charge. This is an effective, and easy, way to build brand awareness and champion volunteerism.

As a result of my community contributions, I’ve been recognized with awards from the West Bend Chamber of Commerce, including: Small Business of the Year, New Member of the Year and Emerging Leader. In February 2020, I was the City of West Bend's Business of the Month. 

I strongly believe the ticket to successfully owning a business is following the golden rule. When you treat others the way you want to be treated, the whole community benefits because the return on being kind and giving to others is tenfold. Community health and well-being is improved, business is booming and employees are inspired and engaged.

Keith Novotny is a Franchise Owner of Cousins Subs restaurants in Kewaskum and West Bend, Wisconsin. Find out more about Cousins Subs here