What makes a small business is more than just what they sell or offer, it’s about being a part of a community. Being a small business is not only rewarding, but it’s also extremely challenging. Small budgets and lack of manpower have hindered countless “mom and pop” establishments from restaurants to clothing stores as they attempt to compete with “big box” stores. Before 2012, there weren’t many businesses that helped solve problems such as these, which is how Jersey Shore InMotion took shape.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, we’re highlighting local businesses including our own, Contacts In Motion™. At Contacts In Motion, we not only support local small businesses, but we also are a locally owned small business that depends upon the surrounding the communities to thrive. As they grow, we grow too. Here’s a look at how it began, what we’re about, and what we’re looking forward to accomplishing.
A Closer Look at Contacts In Motion
In 2012, long time friends (they met over sandwiches at the 6th grade lunch table in Hazlet and have been friends ever since) decided to come together and begin a local networking platform, Contacts In Motion. Christopher Grohman and Michael Fiore had both worked within a small and large corporate businesses and had seen first hand how mom and pops were out resourced and outnumbered by budgets with many more zeroes. They took a huge risk and hoped it would pay off, luckily for them (and for small businesses), it did.
“Originally, Contacts In Motion was a hyper local version of GroupOn where small businesses could run deals without being forced to deeply discount,” said Grohman. “However, it eventually evolved from a deal-centric platform to a more information driven platform thanks to our initial customers.”
Beginning with Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant, Jersey Shore In Motion (JSIM) became a platform that shared information from local businesses including events, new items, and specials. Instead of offering deep discounts like Groupon, which tends to bring in “one and done” customers, JSIM’s goal was to offer locally owned small businesses the opportunity to share their message with a much larger audience then they were able to on a small budget, creating loyal customers in the process, not just one-time buyers.
“We’re simply an amplifier for small businesses who already have an established digital presence,” said Grohman. “We take their content, digital images and other information and put it in front of more locals via our digital platforms.”
Helping to Grow Small Businesses
Contacts In Motion™ has now grown to represent over 200 businesses in Monmouth and Ocean County and Middlesex County. Since 2012, they have successfully rolled out two platforms, JSIM and Central Jersey InMotion (CJIM), which is growing faster in reach and traffic than JSIM was when it started. Currently, they have over 50,000 fans on Facebook, 24,000 followers on Instagram, and 2,000 followers on Twitter. We have weeks where we reach over 500k people through all of our outlets. We are a new way of promoting that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
“Before us there weren’t many ways for consumers to exclusively see content from locally owned businesses in their area,” said Grohman. “Our platform works in part because of that exclusivity. We have turned down revenue on more than one occasion from the “big guys” in order to keep our DNA, which focuses on being the megaphone for small businesses, not the big guys.”
A Scalable Platform That Fits All Communities
What makes Contacts In Motion™ and their platforms unique is that they’re completely scaleable and easily replicated. Contacts In Motion’s web based platform can be re-branded for any city, downtown, or Main Street where there is a strong local business community.
In the upcoming years they’re hoping to expand their reach across the region, helping everyone from small businesses to local municipalities, and chamber of commerce’s who are spending a lot of money advertising and website development that isn’t reaching enough consumers. No matter where they roll out a platform, Contacts In Motion™ not only helps small businesses, but they also hire local talent such as content writers, marketers and business development professionals.
“JSIM captures the spirit of people who want to support local businesses,” said Steve Catania, Owner of The Cheese Cave in Red Bank and JSIM’s first paying customer. “They do a great job of highlighting everything that my business has to offer by amplifying my message, something I wouldn’t be able to do on my budget without them.”
It’s not just during the holiday season or Small Business Saturday that Contacts In Motion™ focuses on small businesses; it’s every single day. With their platform, they’re able to get the word out about small businesses, helping them to thrive such as in places like Asbury Park and Red Bank where “big box” stores really don’t exist. Small businesses are the backbone to local economies such as these towns, which is exactly why CSIM continues tow work to connect their message to the consumers.
“We’re excited that our content is being well received,” said Grohman. “ It’s a great feeling to see so many of our businesses stay with us month after month. When they reach out to us and ask our team to push an event or promotion at their business, you know they are counting on you to get the word out. For shoppers and diners, its pretty cool to know that every year your service only put the local businesses in front of hundreds of thousands of people in the area. That is what it was always supposed to be about. Our fans have been wonderful and they continue to come back to us to explore what is happening in the area. As entrepreneurs and small business owners it has been the most rewarding “job” we’ve ever had.”