Get Employees Free Discounts at Other Businesses

Corporate discounts let employees buy cheaper movie tickets, phone plans, and more, but they're for companies with thousands of employees, right? Wrong. Depending on the program, businesses with about 35 employees will often qualify, but I've seen programs for small businesses of just a few. Plus, you can establish your own relationships with local businesses, both promoting yourself to their employees and saving your workers cash.

Corporate discounts succeed by increasing overall sales for a third-party company, while offering your workers a discount. You'll promote the savings in an office bulletin board or HR handout, and you should be able to give employees these benefits at no other cost.

Several websites act as clearing houses for these programs. Check out Working Advantage--which requires 35 employees--and TicketsAtWork.com. Those sites can get discounts on hotels, theme park tickets, and other vacation events.

But take an afternoon of your own time to call local businesses, too. Try Zoos, theaters, retail shops, and restaurants. Think of places you go regularly or take out-of-town visitors. You might find that neighbors are eager for some exposure, even if your business is small. And your employees will appreciate the extra perk.

Consider the other side of the equation, too. It's easy to reciprocate when contacting local businesses on behalf of your employees.

And if it makes sense for your business, offer local companies an employee discount on your services regardless of if they do the same for you. Put these discounts into your greater marketing plans to stay visible.

Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.

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