Hada Grullon has overcome both critics and the recession using the highly personal touch that she brings to her business: Roy's Delivery Service. While many companies today make their customers feel like a number by having them jump through bureaucratic hoops, Hada is known for remembering people's birthdays and making them cookies. She has overcome being robbed and nearly knocked out of the entrepreneurial game altogether. The result is a thriving company with more than 300 clients.
A self-described “little girl from the island,” Hada is a first-generation American from the Dominican Republic who has never forgotten about the people who got her to where she is today: the head of one of the most success delivery services in Florida. She was named the Outstanding Businesswoman of 1999 by the National Association of Women Business Owners and has won numerous awards, including the Customer/Client Service Excellence Award by Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter. But how did she manage to come out of seemingly nowhere to blaze a whole new trail in the business field?
Hada started in the business world where most do: at the bottom. She worked as a banker in Florida for 15 years, learning the standard ins and outs of business. Her first major business influence was her boss during this time, the first woman to serve as the chief financial officer at her bank. “She taught me how to be a more professional person and a hard worker,” Hada says.
In 1992, the news that would forever rock the foundation of Hada's life would be delivered: she was fired. Though immediately picked up by another bank, she hit bottom again after being the victim of another round of layoffs. But the spirit that later carried her to the top of the business world wouldn't let her go out that easy. “I'm tired of getting laid off and I'm going to do something about it,” Hada said to herself at the time. Instead of trying to get another bank job, she decided to start her own business. In a refrain common to many successful business owners, she says simply, “The best thing that happened to me was getting laid off.”
Starting at the bottom again, Hada had to fight for every inch and every customer. She worked out of her garage, and took second and third jobs just to pay the mortgage on time every month. Yet when it looked like clear skies for her business, she would face her most difficult challenge yet. A thief had struck in the night. All of her money and resources—gone, representing a devastating blow out of left field, almost pushing her out of business all together. “Sometimes you go through the journey and get a wake-up call when you're doing something wrong,” she says.
Her personal touch is evident in every aspect of the job. When a client called for 500 packages to be delivered in time for Christmas just days beforehand, Hada rounded up every friend and family member to help her finish on time. She isn't just creating a business, but rather a meaningful, responsive community. Though times are tough because of the recession, she still thrives as a business owner and person. Given such success, other businesses will no doubt follow in her footsteps. “People have forgotten about the personal touch these days; you must build lasting relationships with your customers,” she says.
Hada contacted Dade SCORE in Miami to explore her options and how to prevent something like this from happening again. Because of her mentor’s help, she was able to slowly but surely regain her footing in the business world, by deciding to go above and beyond what her customers expected from their delivery service. She started remembering clients’ birthdays, their kids’ names, and all manner of large and small details. These weren't just faceless pie-chart statistics and percentage points; they were people. “You must take one customer at a time. It’s better to manage 10 than not manage 100,” she says.