Business Owners Speak Out

The 11th Edition

A collection of short interviews and education from local business owners with amazing insights to today's challenges.

We virtually interviewed some of the top small businesses to take a look at what's really happening during the COVID-19 Crisis. Everyone has some important tips to share with other business owners and a few even have a special offer to share. Check out their interviews and MOST IMPORTANTLY visit their websites and check out their services.  Every small business needs us now (and probably yours too!)


OH, And, learn from their mistakes.... hear what they've done wrong so you can do it right! 

Romer Perez, Apollonias Italian Kitchen 
We are a family-owned Italian restaurant in Richardson, TX. We have been open for 7 years and I have been in the business for over 40 years. My wife runs the front, I run the kitchen and my son runs the bar. 

Who do you consider your best customer or target audience? We are located right next to Cisco systems and before COVID-19 received a lot of business from them. They closed in April 2020 and they are not planning on opening until at least October 2021. Our regulars are the ones that maintain us. People that work and live around here.  

What's been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business? Catering was about 40% and it's not existent right now. We do a few smaller catering things but it's not the buffet type it is all individually wrapped and packed. Even then it’s only a fraction. 
 
What are some actions you have taken to make a difference? We do a lot of Facebook live and internet-based events. We do wine dinners through Facebook live, we send the menu out and whoever wants to participate They get all the individual raw items and we put each course in its own bag with the wines that go along with it. People buy the bags and I get online and teach people how to make the meal themselves. Everything is pre-portioned. The menu is more than just Italian too, I jump around so people get a variety. It hasn’t been as financially effective but in the long run it will because we are creating fans for life. They have a vested interest. We have also introduced a home delivery program. They can call today for family style meals to be delivered tomorrow. We can do it hot or even frozen if they want it for mid next week.  

It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes that you’ve made that could help others? We kept relying on the same things we had done before--thinking it would bring people in. It took us a couple months to adjust. Now we know what we are doing and we are lucky that we only lost 2 employees – everyone else was able to sacrifice. We could have started advertising that we were taking COIVD-19 precautions as soon as the pandemic started.
  
What is most inspiring to you today? How Tom Colicchio pointed out how PPP money can be spent to be most beneficial for restaurants and how to better distribute the money. He is just doing it because he can see a way to better help restaurants. 

Offer: We do half price pizza on Mondays and half price bottles of wine on Wednesdays. 

Contact: P: (469)-209-0500 / 
rperez@apolloniasitaliankitchen.com / www.apolloniasitaliankitchen.com 

Steve Wilson, Davis & Stanton, Inc 
Davis & Stanton was established in 1949. We are the oldest independently owned promotional products company. We are family and veteran owned. I started in 1988 and learned the business from the ground up. I took over the business over 2 years ago. We do corporate apparel.  

Who do you consider your best customer or target audience? It is assisted living centers. They have been my best customer for about 3-4 years. We also work with Tech companies.

What's been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business? We have managed to remain open because we are a supplier to assisted living centers. We supply a lot of PPE products and my core people were able to stay open. We were able to bring in PPE and it helped significantly. We are shifting back to the promotional products. There have been no trade shows and clients aren’t doing events or ordering uniforms for events. There is a huge demand for individual drop shipments now that everyone is working from home. We individually drop shipped 500 t-shirts to the student's homes.  

What are some actions you have taken to make a difference? There is a lot less face to face contact with our clients and our vendors. I am sensitive to the client concerns so we are doing a lot of work via email, skype and facetime. I have encouraged my sales people to be sensitive to the client's needs. We maintained contact and let them know we are here to help anyway we can. My clients have different needs and concerns and we accommodate to what they are comfortable with.  

It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes that you’ve made that could help others? One of the things I’ve learned is never take a client for granted and assume  you will always do business with them. We recently parted ways with a customer we worked with for 62 years. Things can change and life can change on a dime. I try to spoil my customers as much as I can. Under promise and over deliver.  

What is most inspiring to you today? I think the resilience of our country and our people. I have seen some amazing things happen throughout this pandemic – my customers have been very understanding. Our factories and suppliers have done outstanding work for the most part. 

Offer: The opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people. We aren’t a huge company but we are a boutique operation and we try to spoil and pamper our clients as much as possible. 

Contact: swilson@davstan.com / P: (214) 340 1321 / www.davstan.com 
 

Ida Jane Bailey, Doug Bailey Real Estate 
I have been in real estate for about 42 years. We do residential single family individually owned property management. No commercial, no apartments.

Who do you consider your best customer or target audience? We represent the owners; we are not in the business of selling things. The home owners are our best references. We do not represent tenants and we enforce the leases on behalf of the owner. We show the homes. 
  
What's been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business? It has made the book keeping a nightmare. We have never taken partial rent before and now we have to help people accommodate. The owner cannot evict anyone for non-payment of rent. Our owners are hurting and not getting paid.  We are not getting paid if our owners are not getting paid. 

What are some actions you have taken to make a difference? We deal with it. Other than just encouraging people. We try to qualify people a little better but we don’t have a lot of turn over because people aren’t moving out. If we don’t have rent, we don’t collect fees. We collect a flat fee.
  
It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes that you’ve made that could help others? I think learning and people are my favorite things. I’ve learned from clients, buyers and sellers. I learned to look through their eyes. There is no reason to ever be unkind. You don’t laugh at anything that is not their choice. It’s not good to jump to conclusions. And unless the place is on fire or flooding you don’t have to act immediately.  

What is most inspiring to you today? How many people are still hanging in there. The bravery of people to just keep going in adversity. Finding people who are thankful for what they have is very inspiring and uplifting. I’ve had a lot of great adventures. See everything as an adventure and have a positive attitude. 

Contact: 214-850-2083 / 
http://www.dougbaileyrealestate.com / ijbailey@hotmail.com 

Joseph Gonzales, Blacksmoke BBQ & Grill We are a father and son operation and together we have a passion for our meat. I have a background in automotive and I have a passion for customer service.  It shows in all the reviews. Once the word got out about our meat, people started coming in. 

Who do you consider your best customer or target audience? 
The mid blue-collar worker.  We get a lot of industrial, construction and warehouse workers. We also serve a lot of BBQ connoisseurs. 

What's been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business? I feature live music and if I don’t have live music or karaoke  entertainment, I pretty much shut down the bar and the taps run dry. Our take-out is moving all day long. 
 
What are some actions you have taken to make a difference? We started delivery and that has helped a lot. I changed our platform for online order and I added pictures of our food and that increased sales dramatically.  

It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes that you’ve made that could help others? I was in the car business for 30 years. I was second command in the dealership.  I’m still in the people business and I live by that philosophy. We started out with our prices too low. Retention, retention, retention. That is what we rely on. 
 
What is most inspiring to you today? 
We are getting really close to opening up our second location. 

Offer: Check out our daily specials online 

Contact
www.blacksmokebbqgrill.com / (214) 533 3536 / bbqexpress3803@hotmail.com

Rich Wamre, Advocate Media We publish 4 monthly premier magazines in Dallas and they have companion websites and social. Each targets a different neighborhood in Dallas. Newsletters are published weekly. 

  
Who do you consider your best customer or target audience? We have 2 customers. (1) Informing neighbors so they know what is going on around them. (2) We have the people that support us, small and middle size advertisers.  


What's been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business? 
The economics of small business have been tough. The biggest impact economically is there are fewer people to sell advertising to. It has boosted our readership because neighbors want to know what is going on. People would be concerned if there are too many ads.  


What are some actions you have taken to make a difference?
 We have doubled down on our content and we worked harder on our coverage. Its harder to cover things when people don’t want to talk to you in person. We struggled to find new and adventurous stories. We have to work a lot harder to find out what was going on. We have more people looking for more information. We are looking under every rock. We operate as efficiently as possible. We keep an eye on the bottom line.  


It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes that you’ve made that could help others?
 I’ve made so many mistakes that I can’t even single out one or two. I think one of the things we’ve done is that we keep moving forward and keep trying something else--even if we make a mistake.  

What is most inspiring to you today? I think any small business that has survived the last year and taken care of their employees. Anyone that has made it through 2020 has earned respect. The people that have continued to keep people employed. 


Contact
rwamre@advocatemag.com / http://www. Advocatemag.com / 214-560-4212  

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