Stonecrest leaders unveil new merchants’ initiative

Best of Stonecrest
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“Best of Stonecrest” to showcase top businesses

The city of Stonecrest is launching a new program for merchants, “Best of Stonecrest,” to help businesses that elect to participate earn a special seal from the city. The idea, said Sabrina Wright, the city’s economic development director, is to help Stonecrest businesses generate and retain customers by providing them with free customer service training, recognition on the city’s web site and online customer reviews.

About 50 people attended a luncheon on April 11, where city leaders and partners unveiled the marketing branding for the new initiative, said Matt Hampton, director of the AEI Startup Factory, where the luncheon was held.

Obejas Design Company, owned by Matt Hampton’s wife, Maria, developed the branding and the city’s seal that will be issued to participating businesses.

Matt Hampton credited Stonecrest Councilman Jimmy Clanton with having the vision for the program. He said Clanton wanted to take the customer training city staffers received from Discover DeKalb and have that training permeate to businesses in the city.

“Months ago, Councilman Clanton came to me and said he wanted to create a unique mechanism to brand businesses in the city and help them to be celebrated in the community,” said Hampton.

Clanton said he is glad to see the idea taking flight, adding that he believes the initiative will be a tremendous benefit for businesses, the city and customers.

“I think it’s a great project. By giving the businesses the city’s stamp of approval, we’re saying that these businesses have met the criteria by completing the customer service training and have made a commitment to provide excellent customer service,” Clanton said. “They are going to get free exposure and marketing.”

Clanton said Discover DeKalb would provide the three-hour training at no cost to businesses within the city of Stonecrest at City Hall or even on-site at the business. Both, managers and employees, must complete the class in order to receive certification,  Clanton said.

“Companies can’t just send the employees. We want the managers/owners and the staff to be on the same page,” said Clanton.

Clanton said plans are underway now to host a hack-a-thon for student inventors to develop, with professionals providing guidance, a “Best of Stonecrest” app that would be utilized with the new initiative. The app would be similar to Yelp, where customers provide reviews of businesses. The information, Clanton said, would be shared with the city of Stonecrest and the businesses themselves.

“Yes, a professional like myself can develop an app, but I think it’s important to get students involved,” said Clanton, who has spent more than 20 years as a programmer, doing web site development and graphics design for the state of Georgia and other companies.

The hack-a-thon will be held in late June, he said.

“The app is going to allow customer reviews to go directly to the city and the business owners. The city will be able to take the reviews and grade or rate the business. The rating would be based on manager/owner replies to the reviews,” said Clanton.

“One of the things you hear customers complain about the most is bad service. My main goal is that I want Stonecrest to become known as the destination for excellent customer service.”



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