The Small Business Development Center at Troy University has been partnering with the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and Butler County Economic Development, creating joint efforts to both support existing businesses and attract new companies to the county.
TROY SBDC efforts include supporting applications for the county’s revolving loan fund and creating business plans, financial projects and provide business advice.
One of those businesses is Bedgood Washeteria.
Bedgood Washeteria, started by his father in 1982 in a low-income Greenville neighborhood, is more than just a place to wash your clothes. The “wash house,” as it was termed by the senior Bedgood who died at age 101, was meant to be a center for the community where young and old alike could find safehaven.
But when Bernard Bedgood inherited his father’s business in 2020, the Covid pandemic was in full swing, and the laundromat business was taking huge hits.
“My father started it by operating under a culture of excellent customer service and respect for everybody, but mainly he wanted it to be a lighthouse for the community,” Bedgood said. “It’s been a warm, safe place for children to wait for their parents at the bus stop, get some advice and build community.”
By 2021, Bedgood saw that he needed some support and turned to the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, which recommended the Small Business Development Center at Troy University.
Center Director Juliana Bolivar started a conversation about developing a post-COVID recovery strategy and brought SBDC operations advisor Will Pouncey on board to work with Bedgood on a work plan. A low-interest loan provided funding for significant equipment upgrades and Pouncey saw the need to focus on attracting more customers.
Pouncey’s plan: use Bedgood’s online presence for promotion, the least-expensive tool already in the toolbox.
“As a team, we realized Mr. Bedgood did not have the technical skills to implement this plan to revamp and boost his social media presence on his own. The was a need to create awareness of the business in the community to both newcomers and long-term residents who could use his services,” Bolivar said. “Our idea was to use technology to highlight the social impact, cleanliness and good service customers expect from this small business.”
One facet of that online makeover included targeting those long-term residents with information about washing larger items they couldn’t handle with their own washers and dryers. Pouncey set about designing a visual identity around the characteristics that made Bedgood’s unique: cleanliness, reliable machines, and social impact. A logo and color identity was developed and Facebook became the business’ primary outlet.
New follows of the page eventually became new visitors, and more importantly, new customers.
“I am very pleased with the help and assistance that Will Pouncey is giving me,” Bedgood said. “He designed an awesome Facebook page. He has given good advice on marketing and adjusting the price of my machines.”
Bolivar said that more than just operational advice, the TROY SBDC is a source of encouragement small business owners can turn to as they work to accomplish their dreams and serves as a conduit for the owners to engage in civic organizations and community development groups that can support the social impact of the businesses.
“As important as financial and growth planning is for a small business, it’s also important for us to remain engaged with our clients and remind them of the significant accomplishments they have made in their business and communities,” she said.