They say an important component to business success is developing relationships. For the growing Latino and Hispanic population in DeSoto County, trust and relationships are everything.
Two businessmen have discovered that key as they have seen their business grow to the community.
Jabril Martinez is the manager for USA Cell Accessories, a Cricket authorized retailer on Goodman Road West in Horn Lake. Guillermo Medina is a salesman for Safeway Auto Sales, a used vehicle dealership on Highway 51, also in Horn Lake.
Both know there is a market to be tapped into from the Hispanic and Latino population and have found ways to grow their business. But both are also aware the business came after a trust was built with customers.
One advantage they have is that they speak Spanish and can communicate with customers without the need of an interpreter.
“They wouldn’t have to struggle with English because what was happening was that they were bringing their children to translate for them because they weren’t versed in English yet,” said Martinez.
Martinez, who came to the area nine years ago, said targeting the Latino community for the mobile phone provider was his primary focus.
“I was hired as an associate and I saw an opportunity to expand the business,” Martinez said. “They had one bilingual girl and that was about it. They didn’t see the potential for the market, which I did.”
Medina added the convenience of buying a vehicle through his dealership because of his ethnicity makes it less intimidating to his customers of Latino or Hispanic descent.
“Our owner is Panamanian and has been there for about 5 years now,” Medina said. “Our business is about 75 percent Latino because we offer easy financing and we don’t require as many requisites that big dealerships or other dealerships do. Most of the time, if they have an ID, we can finance them, and of course, the down payment.”
For Martinez, growing his business became as simple as visiting the Mexican bakery in the same shopping center.
“It was my first attempt to increase business here by offering them discounts if they bring in their families,” Martinez said. “I would leave business cards and flyers. I got to know people real well and I would give them a good deal.”
Medina said he is known in the Hispanic community because, for the most part, he has lived much of his life in DeSoto County, so he knows the area.
“I’m from here,” said Medina. “This is where I grew up, went to school and played football. I’ve been here for 22 years now. I just recently got out of the pawn shop business about 7-8 months ago and wanted to try something new.”
Both say their desire to tap into the Latino and Hispanic population has resulted in business success.
“I would say that more than 50 percent of our customers are Hispanics,” said Martinez. “When I came in it was probably 20-25 percent, so now we have more Hispanic customers than anyone else as a result of that.”
“We average about 60-65 cars sold every month,” Medina added. “That’s between two sales people and this year’s looking even bigger.”
Medina said one of the ways to reach potential customers is to use today’s technology. He knows it can be inexpensive, yet effective.
“Like everybody else, we’ve turned to social media because that’s where everybody is at,” Medina explained. “We do live videos and try to get three in a day: at breakfast time, lunch and again around dinner, because we know everybody is on their cell phones.”
For Martinez, being in DeSoto County means being able to offer to others the services he provides through his store.
I had opportunities to go elsewhere,” Martinez said. “But I chose to stay here because it is important to me as a Hispanic and Latino to be a part of the community and help any way that I can.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.