In 2014, Miami Herald makeovers helped small businesses across Miami-Dade County. The Herald partnered with certified counselors from the Miami-Dade Chapter of 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. For each makeover, SCORE assembled a team of experts to give advice and assistance that helped small businesses like Roy’s Delivery Service, YaYa Wines and Heywood-Wakefield Furniture streamline operations, kick start their marketing efforts and find new ways to reach customers.
Recently, the Herald sat down with Orlando Espinosa of SCORE to take a look back at how some of these small businesses are faring today.
ROY’S DELIVERY SERVICE
Back in July, SCORE counselors Carlos Blanco and Oscar Rospigliosi helped Hada Grullon, owner of Roy’s Delivery Service in Kendall. Blanco has grown several businesses and sold his IT marketing agency, Next Level, to a multinational advertising agency based in the United Kingdom. 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.
While Roy’s has been around for 20 years, handling deliveries of all kinds, Blanco and Rospigliosi advised Grullon to do three things to grow her small business and focus the services she provides. First, Grullon, a self-confessed workaholic, needed to hire an operations manager. Next, SCORE counselors recommended she rebrand her business online, including launching a new website. Last but not least, Grullon’s SCORE team recommended that she focus solely on building the medical delivery area of her business.
“Hada is one of the wonderful SCORE success stories,” Espinosa said. “She really dug her heels in and took what the counselors told her to heart.”
At her first meeting with SCORE, Grullon admitted she did almost everything related to her business herself something the counselors agreed was impeding her business. Grullon hired her sister to take over operations. A month after that, she revamped and re-launched her website. She also focused on social media to improve her company’s online presence and changed direction to focus more on medical deliveries for hospitals, doctors’ offices and nursing homes.
“Working with SCORE changed my life,” Grullon said. “The counselors helped me to see what I wasn’t able to see for years: One person can’t run a business alone. Because I was doing everything, there were areas of the business that weren’t running at full capacity. SCORE helped me to change that, and now I’m happy to report that since implementing their advice, my business has grown nearly 40 percent.”
In May, SCORE counselors worked with Leonard Riforgiato, owner of Heywood-Wakefield Furniture. Espinosa and counselors Rosi Arboleya, creative director at Perpetual Message and Frank Padron of We Simplify the Internet (WSI), an Internet marketing firm in Coral Gables, recommended that Riforgiato focus his marketing efforts on acquiring new customers through the Web.
Riforgiato was tasked with accomplishing five things: revamping his website, creating a blog, developing a branded customer e-blast, updating the Wikipedia page about Heywood-Wakefield, and making his first foray into using social media to promote his company.
“With Leonard, we were able to take someone who knew relatively little about the Web and social media and educate him about how these tools can help him market his business,” Espinosa said.
Today, nearly eight months later, Riforgiato has launched a new website, created a blog and is sending out regular e-blasts to his customers. He hasn’t yet taken the plunge into social media, but according to Espinosa, this is something SCORE has been working with him on.
“We are helping Leonard develop his social media presence,” Espinosa said. “He has taken a lot of our advice over the last eight months and we are looking forward to seeing him create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest where he can showcase the beautiful furniture his company creates.”
In September, SCORE worked with YaYa LeGrand, owner of YaYa Wines in North Miami. The SCORE team was made of professionals with experience in marketing, wine buying and the law, all areas where LeGrand needed help.
Hillary Metz, an intellectual property and trademark attorney at Mills Metz Law and Nora Adler, a former wine buyer with over 20 years of experience in marketing, advised LeGrand to do three things to take her business to next level: First, LeGrand had to protect her brand. Metz recommended that LeGrand immediately begin using her federally registered trademark on the wine bottles. Next, Adler recommended that LeGrand partner with a reputable distributor to gain entry into major chain supermarkets. Adler also encouraged LeGrand to foster relationships with wine buyers and store managers to boost sales.
“SCORE really made a difference in the way I do business,” LeGrand said. “I thought I had a lot of areas of my business covered, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I worked with the SCORE counselors. They opened my eyes to things I had no idea about that were impacting my small business.”
Today, LeGrand has implemented all the advice she was given by SCORE. “I’m using my trademark everywhere now,” she said. “I also signed a contract with a major distributor and am actively working with wine buyers and store managers to get into major chain stores. It’s been a wonderful and very rewarding experience working with SCORE. I am grateful, and it has set me on the path to growing my business with all my bases covered.”
For his part, Espinosa is happy to help.
“At SCORE, we work hard to provide real-world advice from experts who have walked in the shoes of the entrepreneurs they are helping,” Espinosa said. “Anyone can give advice, but at SCORE, we partner with the small businesses we help with one goal in mind: giving them a road map to grow and thrive.”
Based in Washington, D.C., SCORE is a nonprofit with more than 12,000 volunteers working out of about 400 chapters around the country offering free counseling to small businesses. There are seven chapters on Florida’s east coast, including SCORE Miami-Dade, with more than 90 volunteer counselors. Counselors from SCORE Miami-Dade meet with small business owners and offer free one-on-one counseling as well as dozens of low-cost workshops. SCORE Miami-Dade also offers a Season Pass, which includes the opportunity to attend an unlimited number of workshops during the year. To register or see more, click on “Local Workshops” on miamidade.score.org. To volunteer or learn more about SCORE, go to www.score.org or www.miamidade.score.org
How to apply for a makeover
Business Monday’s Small Business Makeovers focus on a particular aspect of a business that needs help. Experts in the community will provide the advice. The makeover is open to full-time businesses in Miami-Dade or Broward counties open at least two years. Email your request rclarke@MiamiHerald.com and put “Makeover” in the subject line.