Hada Grullon is a bulldog — a tenacious, talented, self-made woman who turned an idea into a thriving business called Roy’s Delivery Service. Her company, which has been around for 20 years, delivers just about anything, but its core business is handling deliveries for the medical industry. Every day, Roy’s delivers human organs, blood, tissue, radiology film, sensitive documents and other specimens to doctors and medical facilities throughout South Florida.
Grullon’s clients include Jackson Memorial Hospital and University of Miami Hospital. “For our medical clients like hospitals and medical centers, we must deliver within a certain time frame,” Grullon said. “Most often, it’s 90 minutes depending on the distance and under an hour in most cases. But if we are on a hospital campus delivering from one building to another, it could be as little as eight minutes to get a blood sample to a doctor.”
Organs being delivered by Roy’s are transported in coolers to ensure safe delivery for the patient depending on it for survival.
“We have been very fortunate because we have done a very good job for our clients,” said Grullon, who recently opened a second office at the University of Miami Science and Technology Park near Northwest 19th Street and Seventh Avenue in Miami to be closer to her medical clients. “I’ve had medical clients who have asked for organs to be delivered to hospitals at 3 o’clock in the morning. That is the small part we play in saving lives every day.”
Today, Roy’s takes in almost a million dollars a year in revenue. But for Grullon, like so many other entrepreneurs, her business wasn’t always so prosperous and was nearly wiped out in the Great Recession. The first-generation American from the Dominican Republic had a 15-year career in banking before launching Roy’s Delivery Service, named after her husband. She started the business in 1994 after being fired and then laid off from two banking jobs. “I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and control my destiny,” she said.
She started by delivering birthday cakes. The business continued to grow and diversify, and Grullon hired drivers, a dispatcher and office personnel. For the most part, her hires at that time were good. But in 2001, Grullon said she was robbed by an employee who stole her identity and pillaged her resources. It turned out, according to Grullon, that the employee had been accused of theft many times before.
“I tell everyone to be careful of the people you hire,” Grullon said. “I made the mistake of not checking this person’s references.”
Not long after that came the Great Recession.
To survive, Grullon closed her office in Kendall and brought the operation in-house, quite literally. “There were times when I thought I should just give up. I felt defeated. I went from having a great business with employees and an office to working from my living room and doing everything myself.”
For four years, Grullon hunkered down. “But a funny thing happened after a while,” she said. “The business started growing again.”
Today, in addition to grossing nearly seven-figure revenues and having two offices, the company is debt-free and qualified for a line of credit.
Now, Grullon wants to take her delivery service to the next level and focus on getting more clients, like doctors’ offices, hospital, healthcare centers and other medical facilities. To do that, she asked the Miami Herald for a Small Business Makeover.
The Herald turned to Miami SCORE, a nonprofit organization of volunteers who have been successful entrepreneurs. SCORE volunteer counselors use their experience in business and offer mentoring services free of charge to help small businesses grow and succeed. SCORE reached out to three counselors to help.
The SCORE team was made of professionals with experience in marketing, the medical industry and human resources. Carlos Blanco has grown several businesses in his career spanning more than 25 years. Most recently, he sold his IT marketing agency, Next Level, to a multinational advertising agency. Oscar Rospigliosi is a partner at Newport Board Group, a national professional firm that provides services to emerging growth middle market companies and private equity firms. For nine years, Rospigliosi served as CEO of a medical device company in the cardiovascular market. Orlando Espinosa is a SCORE consultant, co-founder of Emineo Media and has more than 25 years of experience in the communications industry.
At the first of three meetings, SCORE counselors quickly identified key issues Grullon faced in reaching her goals: First, she was doing too much. For example, Grullon was her company’s human resource department, hiring and firing employees, managing workplace conflicts and doing payroll. She also worked as a dispatcher, drove delivery vans and did her best to fit in time to market the company and get more clients.
“She was doing the jobs of 10 people,” said Blanco. “You can’t keep up that kind of pace for long. It really is true that one person can’t do it all.”
Another issue Grullon faced: her website. Or rather, the lack of one. Customers couldn’t find her online until 2014.
“From interacting with Hada, it’s easy to see why her employees and customer love her and why Roy’s has flourished. Her can-do attitude and passion for great customer service are clearly evident. Hada is a people person — putting her customers and employees before her,” said Espinosa. “At the same time, Hada has her hands in all aspects of running the business … hindering her ability to scale and grow.”
The SCORE team had the following advice:
• Hire an operations manager: “Hada needs to separate herself from the daily operations of her company,” Rospigliosi said. “She needs to hire an experienced operations person tasked with running the business on a day-to-day basis. This person should complement Hada’s skills, but should also share Hada’s passion for hard work, quality service and customer service. “
By the third meeting with the SCORE counselors, Grullon had already hired her sister, a former Wells Fargo employee, who shares her passion for growing the business.
• Rebrand the business online: The SCORE counselors also advised Grullon to concentrate on rebranding her business with a medical focus, especially online where she had virtually no presence.
“A name change or evolution of it is also needed,” said Espinosa. Grullon wasn’t thrilled with that idea: “Everyone knows us as Roy’s Delivery Service and it’s been like that for 20 years.”
By the third and final meeting with the SCORE counselors, Grullon agreed to a compromise. She decided to change the name of her business to Roy’s Delivery and Medical Service. She even presented the counselors with a few design concepts for a new logo.
“The new website needs to be positioned accordingly and new marketing material needs to be produced,” Blanco said. “A new tag line for the business is a good idea as well. Quality and reliability of service are the main points to stress for the medical business.”
Recommendations offered by the counselors for the website include reducing the navigation bar to fit one line. The counselors also advised Grullon to keep the most important items visible and use drop down menus to tuck additional content inside. They also suggested that Grullon add social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on the top right hand side of page for easy access.
• Focus on sales and scalability: “After a proper transition by Hada to the new operations person, Hada should focus her time almost exclusively on building the medical business by securing new customers,” Espinosa said. “ Responsibility for revenue growth from the existing courier business should be transitioned to another person within the company.”
The SCORE counselors agreed that Grullon needed to focus her attention on these key tasks immediately to get her business ready for expansion. “Although she was loved by her customers, Grullon needs to separate herself from the business,” Espinosa said. “A restructuring and change in policies and procedures are needed so that customers are properly served without everything having to go through Hada. Any new services offered must be delivered with scalability and repeatability in mind. The company cannot scale by offering “one-off” services to each customer.”
For her part, Grullon vows to do everything the SCORE counselors have asked of her. “This experience has been unbelievable,” she said. “In just a short time working with SCORE, I now have a plan that is going to help me grow, hire more employees and realize the success I have always dreamed of.”