With 49 years of family friendly service and counting!
Cole’s Service Center has been in business for 49 years and counting! This shop has always been in the hands of the Cole family and has continually delivered great service to the citizens of Vancleave, Mississippi. They have deep roots spread throughout the town with 12 aunts and uncles and over 50 first cousins. The Cole family has had an immense impact on their community. The road where the shop is located is even named after them! Deanna shares that her dad, Kenneth Cole the founder of the Service Center, and his siblings “walked home on the road many nights after football, baseball, or basketball practice or games.”
They currently have 6 employees, not including their mom who comes in every morning to take the money to the bank. According to Deanna, she also doubles as their Public Relations team, saying “she visits all of the customers and regales them with stories of Wes and I as children.” Wes is Deanna’s brother and co-owns the Service Center with her. Their mom creates a friendly and engaging atmosphere for the office, which is one of the reasons why people keep coming back!
Deanna thanks DRIVE for the continued growth of her family’s business. After the flood caused by hurricane George in 1998, the shop had to be remodeled. It was around this time they found DRIVE, Deanna says “DRIVE is the reason we are still open and successful.” Her business coach helped her realize how valuable her shop really is, because of this they started to charge properly for their services and see an increase in profit. It was after this instance they committed fully to all of the advice they were given. It was then that they were “able to run the shop, instead of simply working in it.”
Before she started working with DRIVE, her days were filled with stress, stress, and more stress! The tasks would pile up on their desk and be put off indefinitely. Now, she has a streamlined process figured out with her dedicated staff. The Service Center now has a shop manager, service advisor, social media manager, and talented technicians to handle every need. Through this process they have become financially stable, the bills are paid and the shop’s equipment is in great shape. They can also take time away from work, Deanna notes “without having to plan months in advance”.
When not at the shop, Deanna is most likely to be seen at her church. She’s the president of the Episcopal Church Women, a member of the Daughters of the King, the Alter Guild, the Flower Guild, and she travels the state of Mississippi as Diocesan Coordinator for the Education for Ministry. If you can’t find her at the church she’s most likely working on her garden. She’s also proud to say she’s a founding member of the local athletic association that created the Vancleave Athletic Hall of Fame! Here she gets to document the athletic heroes of her community dating back to the 1930s. The yearly banquet for the inductees is a premier event for the residents, especially the local athletes and coaches.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020 the Service Center made it a staple practice to reach out to the customers in their database to check in on them. No sales pitch attached, just a courtesy call to check in on their neighbors. As Deanna describes it, “genuine and authentic care.” These actions caused a huge wave of positive feedback and even gave them their biggest year in sales, that is until 2021 hit. By showing their clientele they are more than just a customer they have created deeper connections with them and reaffirmed the trust they can have in the shop.
Making connections with customers isn’t the only important relationship Cole’s Service Center fosters. They also love networking with fellow shop owners! Deanna loves hearing about their wins, sharing stories about both the good and bad they’ve experienced. There’s always something new to learn about equipment, programs, and new industry trends and their shop is always looking for ways to improve. “I love hearing about ways to better serve our customers, ways to be smarter for not only their benefit but the shops as well,” Deanna shares.
As she looks forward to the rest of the year, she can’t wait to meet more owners and get a chance to, quite literally, talk shop with them. This is why she signed up for the DRIVE EXPO in August. Since she became a Master of Shop Management, she enjoys the EXPOs because of the “genuine communication between shop owners” that keeps bringing them back. Deanna calls it “inspiring” and says DRIVE has created an event that is “permeated with comradery and care for everyone.” To say the least, Deanna is ready to get to the EXPO asap!
Deanna and Wes are also looking forward to a formal celebratory ceremony later this year. The Vancleave Choctaw Live Oak Indian Tribe was recently recognized, and the Cole family donated a piece of their property to them! Deanna shares that they’ve known most of the members all of their lives. They can’t wait for this dedication to happen this summer!
Prepared by Chase Clough