For a small business owner, the first challenge is making sure you’re offering the best products or services in town. The second is delivering on that promise to your current customers. And the third is attracting new customers who can benefit from what your business has to offer.
Over the past 30 years Andy St. Denis, the owner and chief mechanic of Andy’s Auto Service, has established his full-service repair facility as the best there is in St. Cloud, FL and he has loyal customers to prove it. But it was that third challenge – attracting new customers in his rapidly growing and changing community – that prompted St. Denis to seek assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its Kissimmee/Osceola County satellite office.
“We repair and maintain automobiles really well,” St. Denis says. “We have the most up-to-date training, technology, and equipment available, so our customers’ vehicles get the best service possible, maintained and repaired to the latest factory specifications. We make our customers happy and that’s the way we like it.”
St. Denis is also very involved in and cares deeply about his community. “It’s what makes us different from the franchises and big box stores out on the highway,” he says. “I am proud that Andy’s Auto Service is located in St. Cloud’s historic downtown district and to personally be part of the St. Cloud Citizens Foundation, the American Legion and other local organizations.”
However, just as he has made sure to have all the latest diagnostics tools, computerized repair manuals and trained technicians, St. Denis also wanted to make sure he was using the latest marketing tools to draw the younger new residents moving into his community. “I know how to repair cars but, as far as marketing the business, I was unfamiliar with the most recent strategies and activities, like web marketing for instance” St. Denis states. “That’s where my FSBDC consultant, Rafael Pratts, came in.”
In the beginning, St. Denis and Pratts met every few weeks, analyzing the company’s current marketing activities, trying different strategies, building a marketing plan. St. Denis also attended some of the FSBDC’s business seminars where he learned new approaches, heard how other business owners did things, and got new ideas.
“That’s what the FSBDC is great at: teaching old dogs new tricks,” recalls St. Denis. ”It showed me new things I could do that I wasn’t aware of. And they never aimed me in the wrong direction. I may not have always liked what I was hearing but sometimes you need to hear it. I know I did. And its all been a positive for my business. I see the results every day.”
“The FSBDC has helped me and Andy’s Auto Service greatly,’ continued St. Denis. “The seminars, the one-on-one consulting with Rafael, the market research have all made a difference. Since I started working with the FSBDC and began my marketing plan, I‘ve seen more incoming phone calls from potential new customers; I’ve seen an increase in returning customers; and I’ve seen my revenues improve by more than 25%. I would recommend the FSBDC highly, and I do to my friends and family.”
For information about Andy’s Auto Service, please visit https://andysautoservice.net/.