Technology can be daunting, and the use of it to increase awareness for your business can be especially intimidating if you haven’t been exposed to it. Irma Fuentes, owner of ESI Hardware in Southwest Detroit, credits the training provided by a TechTown Professional Services Network (PSN) member as the reason why she’s been able to manage her fear of technology.
When ESI Hardware opened in 2003, Mexican-American immigrants Irma and Edgar Fuentes relied on word of mouth to gain more customers for their business. After opening, however, they struggled to keep the store in business amidst many personal tribulations, including the death of Edgar and Irma’s battle with cancer. Irma found that social media would be a powerful tool to increase awareness and gain more clientele. Small businesses can have the best products, prices, location and customer service, but if the surrounding community isn’t aware, they must find additional avenues to gain recognition.
Before becoming a TechTown client, Irma had minimal knowledge of social media networks. She had a personal Facebook page but did not actively promote the store. Juan Carlos, owner of Featherstone Moments and TechTown PSN member, gave Irma basic social media training to make her feel comfortable with the process, which ultimately made her acknowledge the benefits of promotion and self-sufficiency. They developed a plan to create community awareness and promote ESI Hardware’s unique qualities, including the fact that they offer bilingual service and delivery to those without transportation. Now, Irma is putting this newly-acquired knowledge into practice by managing Facebook and Instagram, and producing her own videos. The help Irma received even translated into her personal life as she created a Facebook support group for cancer survivors and those in remission.
The hardware store was one of the winners of the NEIdeas contest in 2017. Despite the obstacles that Irma has to overcome daily, she keeps alive one of her passions: to serve her community and maintain resources in the area.