January 24, 2013 // Franchising.com // Wilmington, N.C. - One in five Americans moves each year. On average, new movers spend more in their first six months in a new location than a normal customer does in three years. That means new residents are an ideal source of revenue and loyalty for small businesses. But the timeframe is limited: contacting new residents within 60 days of a move is 80 times more successful than reaching out to established residents.
This is especially true of the Raleigh-Cary metro area. According to Forbes, the region is the fourth fastest-growing area in the U.S. That’s why Wilmington residents Frank and Shelli Bernardini opened Welcomemat Services, a company that specializes in providing targeted new customer prospects to small businesses, professional service companies, restaurants and local attractions.
Now a year and a half in business, the Bernardinis are adding another Welcomemat location in Apex as part of the company’s statewide expansion. The company is also targeting Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro and other metropolitan areas for growth.
Natives of Hilton Head, S.C., the Bernardinis moved north to Wilmington, N.C. in 2009 after the recession hit their hometown hard. For the next two years the couple helped run a bar Shelli’s mother had bought but later realized was too much work for her to run on her own. After selling the bar in May 2011, the Bernardinis were at a crossroads with their careers. With the future wide open, the couple knew two things: they wanted to buy a franchise and they wanted to help local small businesses recover from the recession.
Frank and Shelli chose Welcomemat Services and opened the business in September 2011 in Wilmington. Welcomemat Services was the perfect choice for the Bernardinis because it not only gives local businesses access to new loyal customers, but it provides a valuable service to new residents by delivering custom-designed gift checks to their doors intended to introduce them to neighborhood retailers and service providers.
“We’re really excited to be making Welcomemat Services a thriving business here in Wilmington and also to be helping other small businesses in the process,” Shelli said. “Our goal is to do two things—introduce new residents in the community to local businesses and make enough money to earn a living.”
Welcomemat provides a valuable tool to local businesses with a patented technology that enables new resident information to be bar-coded onto every certificate, allowing local businesses to receive free, customized tracking and information reports regarding responses to their offers. After a customer uses a gift certificate, the business returns it to Welcomemat. The bar code is scanned and the resulting information is provided back to the business in an easy-to-read data sheet profiling the client’s new customers and providing demographics such as the customer’s name, gender, income level, neighborhood and home value. Welcomemat uses data from more than 35 sources to locate newcomer addresses.
New residents receive their Welcomemat package within 30 to 120 days of moving in, with offers for such things as $15 of free dry cleaning, complimentary haircuts or free car washes sent to hundreds of thousands of families across the country each year.
As the Bernardinis enter the next new exciting chapter of their careers with Welcomemat, the couple is looking forward to running a successful business that allows them to live the American dream.
“As the economy begins to recover, we are very optimistic about the future and our decision to bring Welcomemat to Apex and Cary,” Shelli said. “We truly believe in the Welcomemat product and look forward to helping local businesses gain loyal customers.”
Sanderson & Associates, Ltd.