Today, we will look at a small manufacturing business. Filippo Mancuso is a 43 year-old metalworker, who runs his business from a small workshop near Milan. He manufactures iron grating and anti-intrusion systems; he also repairs, maintains, and installs shutters, insect screens, and similar bespoke products.
Filippo started working as an assistant technician more than twenty years ago, however, in the last ten years, he has run his own workshop with the typical flair and effort of so many small Italian artisans.
Small but up-to-date
Over the last several months, Filippo has proved that it is possible for micro-businesses to develop innovatively. He has improved his relationships with his customers, saving time and resources, just by using an ordinary Smartphone.
For many of us, the use of Smartphones is routine but many others still think that it is a device which is too difficult to use, or that they are too old to “learn new tricks”. However, today’s world is changing very fast, and people who don’t modernise their businesses will be left out in the cold! The good news is that it is not as hard as it seems to get to grips with new technology – though you must have a real desire to try it out! Filippo’s results are showing that this is possible and that it can help us to do better business!
How information technology can help small artisans
Until only a few months ago, Filippo used traditional ways of doing business and communicating with customers: he attracted new customers mainly by word of mouth, he read his emails only on his PC, and he only talked about his products with his customers face to face.
Filippo is open minded, sociable with an enquiring mind, and he’s not worried about information technology. So, he decided to introduce some basic changes to improve the efficiency of his small business. With only minimal changes to his working practices, he can now manage his emails wherever he is, and not just on his PC in his office.
A new way to be found by his customers
A website today is essential even for self-employed artisans and technicians. So that many more customers can find him, Filippo created his own website with “Jimdo”;,”Jimdo” is an online service which, in a few simple steps, enabled him to display his business in a modern and appealing way.
The internet is a tool which is used ever more widely by customers to find providers of everyday services they need: now Filippo’s customers can look at his products online, choose the model they want, send him a message via the website, and he can reply within minutes with a detailed estimate. With his website, Filippo can explain to his customers the value of his products and the quality of his workmanship – which consists of patience, precision, passion for the design, responsiveness to the customer’s requirements and a desire to satisfy them.
A winning solution
At 60 euros per year, the cost of this web-based solution is reasonable and it’s not necessary to be a computer expert to make your own website: it’s enough just to have a little imagination and patience!
Small entrepreneurs must invest in technology
You have to invest time to produce your own website! If time is not on your side, you could get the help of an IT expert, for a tailor-made project, in line with your budget.
In the near future, Filippo could improve his standard website, for example, by including a Google Map to show the location of his workshop and be more visible with a targeted advertisement (with Google Adwords), even with a modest budget.
Don’t forget that, even if you are a self-employed artisan or technician, it could be useful to have an English translation of your website because, in Italy, there are more and more English-speakers who want to buy our products and services.
Don’t overlook advertising your business!
It’s not easy to find enough time to handle your business advertising; perhaps you have a lot of work and family duties, but no matter where he is or how busy he is, Filippo can manage his product photos, upload them on his website, and send them to his customers. With his Smartphone, he can now also deal with his admin and develop a little marketing project for his business.
Filippo’s story teaches us two main things: the first is the importance of innovation so that customers can appreciate the value of your products. Secondly, even a small business can do this, by making use of readily available information technology.
In-depth analysis: What is “Jimdo”?
“Jimdo” is an online service to make your website on your own, based on standard templates and customized for smartphones and tablets.
Filippo input onto a standard template the main information about his business, his main products and services (with specific details), photos (taken with his Smartphone), prices, a contact form, and the location of his workshop.
Furthermore, “Jimdo” includes SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”) by including some relevant keywords (e.g. “grating” and the cities near him). This boosts the Google ranking of his website so that as many customers as possible see it listed in their searches.