Today, we find out the scoop on running a successful, small business from Neal Belitsky, the CEO of American Roads, LLC, www.americanroads.com. His company has remained profitable during tough, economic times. Here’s what Neal had to say about this:
Tell us about American Roads and how you became involved in this business.
American Roads is a portfolio company of Alinda Capital Partners (New York) and owns four toll bridges in Alabama. And it is the long-term concessionaire for the international tunnel between Michigan and Ontario.
The company is currently working to expand its portfolio through toll-road acquisition and development projects throughout the United States. Numerous development projects are currently under review.
I joined the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation (DCTC) as director of operations in 1998. DCTC subsequently went through a number of purchases yielding opportunities leading to my current position as chief executive officer for American Roads.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a small business owner?
Our biggest challenges are really opportunities. And one of our greatest opportunities now involves increasing sales during a period of economic challenge, with Americans driving less and looking to economize.
How did you overcome that challenge?
We are finding and implementing the best mix of toll rates, discounts and incentives for frequent users that maintain our margins and promote the use of our facilities.
What has been the greatest reward for you in being a small business owner and why?
All the hard work is worth it when you are able to manage growth, promote staff self-initiative and independence and remain profitable during tough economic times.
What kind of publicity and marketing have you done to increase awareness for American Roads?
We participate in ongoing community involvement to meet the needs of our customers, and we increased the use of Internet and Web-based marketing and promotion. We’ve also focused on mapping cash customers for more targeted marketing.
What has been the most effective way to build a positive, brand image for American Roads and why do you think that is?
We have focused on saving customers time and fuel costs. By listening to customers, working directly with local shops, restaurants and events, and having staff members convey positive, personal attitudes, we are in tune with the local communities we serve and are therefore able to build positive, lasting relationships.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are trying to start and grow a new business today?
It’s essential to help your staff members stay motivated, reward positive results, set goals and monitor progress. Plus, it’s important to avoid frustration. Be creative, utilize specialty resources (like online marketing) and really have a handle on the current needs of your target market.
Thanks for your great tips Neal! For more information on American Roads and using their various toll roads to get to your destination, visit www.americanroads.com.
And if you need help with your marketing and online copywriting to boost sales, credibility and awareness, please let me know here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com. Thanks!