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How NAWBO Circle Members Target Business Growth

 

This month, we had the privilege of chatting with two of our NAWBO Circle members who lead larger businesses that exceed the $1 million mark in annual revenue—Marci Flowers, president and CEO of Armstrong Plumbing, and Christina Vitagliano, founder of Monster Mini Golf. Read on to hear their personal stories, and gain insights on growing a business to new heights.

What have been your top three strategies for growing your business past the million-dollar mark?

Marci:

1.  Lots of prayer! Dig deep! Growing a business takes fortitude, risk, resilience and perseverance. It is NOT for the weak of heart. There will be days when you want to give up and throw in the towel, and days when you will pinch yourself wondering how you got here. I am a praying, God-fearing woman who has come to believe that NOTHING happens outside of God’s plan. I have always had the mindset that this business belongs to Him but He grants me the privilege of building it. I spend time first and foremost on my knees asking for wisdom to do what He has gifted me to do; discipline to be a wise steward with His resources and courage to do it all with everything within me. He is the number one contributor to our growth.    

2. Care! My second strategy has been and will always be to take care of the team members entrusted to me. Going “above and beyond” in improving their quality of life will pay back tenfold. As ours is a service business and the team members are in our clients’ homes, it is imperative that they extend that same care and depth of concern while going about their tasks. We currently have an 88 percent return client ratio and THAT has been one of the largest contributing factors to our growth. Demonstrate what true caring is to your team—they will care for your clients and the clients will keep coming back.

3.  Invest in coaching! We don’t know what we don’t know. We have a sign at our door that says, “NO EGOS!” Pride can get in the way of our growth if we think we know how to grow our business best! Reach out and bring in those who have gone before and lean on their expertise. I hired a financial coach early on who was instrumental in showing me how to understand my books, the importance of cash flow and how all the numbers work together to give us clear direction on the health of the business. Although I never thought I could afford her, she was the best investment I ever made and the third largest contributor to our growth.

Christina:

1. Be ethical, honest and sincerely aggressive.
2. If hospitality, amazing customer service and cleanliness can’t be maintained as top priorities, then do not grow in numbers.
3. Believe that what you have created is more amazing than what anyone else will try to copy.

 

What’s been your greatest “lesson learned” in terms of launching and growing your business?

Marci:

Patience! Most businesses DON’T grow overnight. It’s a process of moving forward one small piece at a time. When I look at our business plan, our resources, our revenue and our personnel, I can often get impatient with wanting to push it all at once. I have found through the various seasons that this only proves to wear me out. Having patience with others and myself, taking time to breathe deeply and enjoying the process are lessons that never wane.   

Christina:

When I became aware that our concept was going to take off, we had two choices to make: open more company-owned locations or franchise the concept. We decided to franchise as I felt in-store/on-site ownership was vital. Fact is, unless you were born into the franchising business, there is no other way to learn about it other than pure life experience. Books do not do it justice!

With that being said, I believe one of the most important lessons I have learned is to get to KNOW franchising and the development of the franchisees within your concept FIRST. Focus on increasing locations second. This is a very tough thing to do when most franchisors need the franchise sales to help them survive on a day-to-day basis. This in itself takes a lot of self-discipline, but in the long run will save you time, money and if your concept is dear to you, probably a few years of your life expectancy!

 

What’s your #1 piece of advice for other women trying to grow their business to the next level?

Marci:

GRAB A HAND! You will spend countless hours investing your energy, planning your course, studying your skill and mapping your future but the old adage,  “No man is an island” still rings true. You are part of something much bigger and there are others on the course. 

Don’t GO IT ALONE! Lock arm in arm with a NAWBO sister, family member or coach and stay connected. You will need them for the weary days and the sleepless nights. You will need them for the celebrations and the milestones, however big or small.  

And at the end of the day, WHEN you have SCALED the mountain and your head’s in the clouds of euphoria, you will need that hand to bring you back down to earth.

Christina:

Honestly, it seems like the more successful our company becomes, the harder it is for outsiders to believe a “woman” created this business. Ironically enough, I believe the best advice for this comes from a bunch of young women who use the slogan, “Be prepared.” I would simply say: persevere, develop thick skin and try to learn twice as much as the average male while simultaneously staying humble about all of it. Power is important, but respect from others and staying ethical earns power without having to shout “POWER.”