By embracing burgeoning technology and the advantages of social media, Nicasto's Driving School of Gloucester is set to propel their business into the 21st century, and they are taking Danvers along for the ride.
Nicastro's, a family business started by John Nicastro, Sr, has been a staple in the Driver’s Educational arena on the North Shore for over twenty years. Nicastro’s has seen adults young and old from all over the north shore come to participate in classes, where they have learned defensive driving techniques and the rules of the road from Nicastro’s Massachusetts State Certified Instructors.
Beginning Oct. 22, Nicastro's will open its doors to its newest classroom addition, located at 10 Elm St. in Danvers Square. According to Andrew Nicastro, the youngest of five brothers in the tight knit Nicastro clan, the decision to choose Danvers as it’s second location was an easy one.
"Danvers is very similar to Gloucester, in that, it's very community based," he said. "Like Gloucester, they've managed to keep a small town feel."
The youngest Nicastro joined the family business at the tender age of 12, and was making a big difference in the marketing aspect of the business by the age of 17 when he designed and implemented advertising flyers. When his father, John Nicastro, Sr., retired two years ago, his eldest son, John Nicastro, Jr. was tapped to take over the business. It was his idea to bring in Andrew, a Bentley College graduate, to head up marketing and social media to keep the business relevant in the computer age.
"We've all been a part of the business at some point, but with John as the oldest, he had the first option to buy," explained Nicastro. "I went to Bentley for marketing, but social media is my passion, so we just started ramping up the social marketing two months ago with a Nicastro's Facebook Page, interactive calendar and an email marketing campaign."
The brothers decided to band together and use Andrew's skills to bring social media into the business as a new way of communicating with the Facebook generation.
"My brother John has a two year old, Jordan, and I said to him,'Do you believe your child has grown up with Facebook, and these kids today don't know of a world without it?" He laughed, then continued, "My brother loved the idea, and he's making a big effort to institute social media as a whole new way of connecting with his students."
Nicastro, who also is employed by the Cranney Companies in Danversport, is a certified driving instructor and will be hands on in the Danvers classroom. He said he is most excited about the new, modern feel he will bring to the classroom, utilizing Prezi Presentations, (described as PowerPoint, but with more movement), YouTube videos, and Skype. "We treat our students like they are young adults. They are taking on a huge responsibility, and we want to prepare them for it, and feel they get more out of it when they are treated with respect," he stated.
Students will learn from Massachusetts State Certified Driving Instructors using the latest technology in the classroom. They will be asked to participate in hands-on lessons concerning driving under the influence and distracted driving -a.k.a. texting while driving.
"We ask students to sign a pledge, that they wont text and drive. We also have them put on drunk goggles, which mimic what a person who is under the influence actually sees if they are behind the wheel. It's a very powerful experience, and really shows just how much the alcohol can impact their reaction time," Nicastro explained. "There is a drunk driving accident in the United States every 46 minutes. When kids hear that, and use the goggles to see for themselves that hey have no control over themselves when they wear them, it really hits home for them."
Parental involvement is not only encouraged, but is crucial to the safe, fun learning of driving for the time, according to Nicastro.
"We put a lot of effort towards helping parents so they can teach their kids, and handle the students driving," he explained. "Kids don't know what they're doing - it's like walking for the first time. There are ways to do it, and we are there to communicate with parents to help make the experience a positive one."
Gone is the tedium of telephone calls and paperwork. Through their new Facebook page, parents and students alike have easy and instant access through email and messaging, and can access the online calendar to sign up for lessons and classes. Parents and students alike are directed to YouTube video tutorials to aid in their understanding and learning proper procedures
"We have a professionally trained staff, four cars, seven instructors and two classrooms. We are all here for the same reason, and that's to learn to drive defensively and learn the rules of the road," he explained. "To get a license is a privilege, and there are rules...if not handled correctly, that privilege can be lost."
"We do it right," he continued. "We are an entrepreneurial family, and will do what it takes to make it work and bring in new, social media-based curriculum to both locations to bring Nicastro's Driving School into the 21st century. There's a reason we've been open for over twenty years."