Our friend Shashi Bellamkonda is back with another guest post of a small business story.
“Did you really find me on the Internet?” Small Business owner to me
By Shashi Bellamkonda
A few weekends ago on a Saturday morning, I went out to my car to begin my weekend errands and saw that I had a flat tire. Saturday mornings are not the best for flat tires. Since I have membership of AAA, I called them and a local towing company arrived and changed the wheel for me to my spare tire. Next step was to find a gas station that could plug the leak in the tire for me. I went down to a couple of them, and they told me that the Autoshop is closed on Saturday.
The choice at that moment for me was not to run to the Yellow pages and leaf through and call all the Autoshops in the vicinity, but to take my phone out and look up Google maps for the nearest service Station. The station that came up was:
Shady Grove BP Auto Care 240 601 6983
16210 Frederick Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
I went to this store and got excellent service, and friendly folks worked on my tire. Since the service was good, I actually took my wife’s car back the next week to replace a mirror. During all this time, the technology this small business used was a billing anf invoicing system on a IBM laptop. They did not have a website and no email address on the card. When I told the owner that I found their auto shop on the internet, he was pleasantly surprised and said I was the first customer who has told him that. He said a major chunk of his business is from repeat customers and referrals from existing customers.
What should this small business be doing to improve their online presence? Do they need one? Does this show the importance of online local directories and being included in online maps? What do you think?
Shashi is the Social Media Swami at Network Solutions. He can also be found at his personal Happenings, advice and other technology thoughts blog and the Solutions Are Power blog.
[Disclosure: Network Solutions sponsored our Small Business Ideas for Small Towns booklet.]
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Many successful small businesses demonstrate that word of mouth is a powerful tool, without much need for the internet.
This autoshop has satisfied customers making positive recommendations on a scale that seems small to internet marketers. Even so, it seems to be a good process for this business.
That being said, any business can improve their sales by employing some of the word of mouth tools that the web can provide.
The internet can become just like any other tool in the box…
Along with the wrenches out in the shop, they could add a couple useful internet tools to the laptop behind the counter and ratchet up the sales.
Good point about the internet being just another tool. The interesting thing about small business web sites is that they can be positioned to appear at the moment a consumer has a need for a specific product or service within a given geography.
Word of mouth is of course the best, but a nicely optimized small business page can help!
Thanks for the post!
Becky McCray says
Bruce/PartyWeDo, thanks. You explained that well.
MAS, I hope to see more small businesses realize how many listings they already have, and how they can improve how those pages work for their business. Thanks!
Brad Harmon says
Last month we had relatives down from Indiana for my sister’s wedding here in Dallas. I took pictures on my iPhone and promptly had then uploaded on facebook before the reception was over. While they were impressed and liked that they could stay in touch, we were not able to talk them into getting a facebook account.
I was surprised at their resistance, but I was shocked at the Reuters report that was published on October 8th, Small Business, Social Media not Mixing – US survey. Despite all of the advantages that social media can provide them, it seems like most small business owners are like your service station owner.