In June 2007, my father asked me to work with him and help manage his small business, an electric motor sales and repairs shop. At the time, I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school. I knew my father needed some help so, I decided to roll my sleeves up and get my hands, dirty, so to speak.
It wasn’t until the end of the first week that I realized the business was suffering from the down economy. The construction industry was hit hard, as new houses were being built and production facilities were closing down because they weren’t turning a profit. Needless to say, we had to act fast to save the business and turn it around. Although I hadn’t taken any Business Management or Marketing classes, I had a lot of ideas and they seemed like common sense.
Although our budget didn’t allow for direct mailing expenses, I went on the Yellow Pages website and searched for local businesses that would benefit from our products and services. Afterwards, I printed the business names and addresses on address labels, placed them on postcards with our business info and coupon, and mailed them. About a week or two later, we noticed a lot of new customers coming to our store. Many of them mentioned they had received our postcards and although they were located just a couple blocks away, they had never heard of or seen our business. The postcards made a huge difference and will never become obsolete, in my opinion.
Thanks to the Internet and the power of e-commerce, I decided to list some of our products on eBay. We noticed that sales increased significantly due to the exposure and our aggressive pricing. The consumer base on eBay has grown tremendously and continues to do so, providing an opportunity for small businesses to not only stay in business but to compete as well.
We improved our customer service turnaround time for repairs. Our customer service wasn’t terrible to begin with but there was definitely room for improvement. We called every single customer a week after their purchase to see if they had any questions or concerns we can address. They realized that we really cared for their business and were eager to build a relationship – building relationships is another important aspect of running a business.
Although I didn’t realize this at the time, this is where my entrepreneurship skills started to come alive and take shape. My father trusted me with the business and he knew I knew what I was doing and the results speak for themselves. The business continues to grow, as it transitions from an older business model to a newer one. All the business needed was a little push and modernization.