Marketing moves Featured

9:55am EDT July 22, 2002

Every day, Lisa DiNinno and her employees greet at least one new resident in the Dublin and Westerville communities where her businesses are located.

As vice president of Roush Hardware Inc., DiNinno brings in the residents — who, by the way, also spend money in the company’s two stores — through Welcoming Services Inc. This Dublin-area company provides business and community information to residents moving into communities around the outerbelt from Hilliard to New Albany.

“It would be tough for someone that hadn’t shopped our store repetitively to know or understand the different things we do, because we offer so many services,” DiNinno says of Roush, which in addition to selling hardware and lawn care products also cuts keys, builds windows and repairs power equipment, for instance. Welcoming Services provides new residents with a flier explaining Roush’s services and offers a coupon for a free key or pack of light bulbs.

DiNinno’s investment in Welcoming Services depends on the number of new residents each month, but she’s confident she’s coming out ahead.

At her cost of $1.60 per resident, she’d spend about $480 per month if 300 move-ins heard about Roush. But at least one person a day comes into one of the two Roush stores using those coupons — and spending an additional $30 to $50, she says.

In a 30-day month, that can add up to at least $900.

“We’ve had a lot of years to sift through what works and what doesn’t so we’re kind of at the point where we don’t do much of anything else that isn’t going to get us at least that kind of return,” DiNinno says.

Margaret Butler of Dublin Cleaners says one benefit of Welcoming Services over other advertising is the personal recommendation of the Welcoming Services representatives who deliver the packets.

“I’d rather have somebody go in and say, ‘I use Dublin Cleaners and I like them,’” she says.

Joy Ault, president of Welcoming Services, says her company can do more than include a coupon in the welcome folder. She can also provide businesses with a computerized list of recipients and an ad on the Welcoming Services Web site, www.welcomingservices.com.

Prices range from $30 to $600 a month, depending on the services and communities included. Ault works with about 100 businesses, and her representatives visit approximately 600 homes each month.

DiNinno, who has used Ault’s service for more than 10 years, says reaching new residents is important, especially in communities as growing and transient as Dublin and Westerville.

“I think most of the services out there that will hit new move-ins are more cost effective than trying to do it yourself,” DiNinno says. “You need to be able to reach those people coming into an area who may not know you at all.”