Posts tagged can’t win
Regarding Sandy… The Musical!
Hey everyone out there! Just wanted to give everyone an update on the status of our store one year and almost one month later … We just received good news! We will definitely possibly kind-of-sort-of probably will “qualify” to receive a loan from the SBA for “Emergency Recovery” from Superstorm Sandy!!
Here’s the catch – on top of it not being a sure thing on approval, I was told today by my loan assistance officer that I will have to take a mortgage out on my condo as collateral!!!!
I sure wish someone would have pre-qualified ALL OF THE BUSINESSES AND HOMEOWNERS to see if we passed all the criteria to get HIT with the storm!
And can someone out there please explain to me how I can’t get the SBA to loan my business money – my business that has employed people for almost twenty years, paid taxes and fees as required, and actually makes money (not millions but some profit) but companies that flat out say that they are not making money, have the financials to back that claim, are coming up with valuations in the millions and/or go to Wall Street for their IPO launch. Anyone have any explanation on that?? We’re not asking for millions, just a loan to rebuild.
Just amazes me…
Sandy and Being Down for the Count
HURRICANE SANDY RECOVERY UPDATE:
This is to let you all know the status of our “recovery” as we close out the 10th month after the storm…
I just got off the phone with NYS & NYC offices for various “Recovery Programs”. My conversation with the representative of both agencies ended with this statement – “I couldn’t get any luckier if I stood in the middle of a field with a metal pole in my hands” – we applied to every program the State of New York offered and luckily, our last application went in on March 24th – the following week, the State turned over all applications for city based businesses and homeowners to NYC.
Guess what?? “Some of the thousands of applications were actually lost in the transfer” is the answer I was told. Upon further investigation and tracking of my application registration number, we have determined that our application was, you got it, LOST!
So while I harbor no animosity toward the staff at any of these agencies that go home every pay period with a paycheck, NO ONE in the State or City bureaucratic machine gets the idea that we, small and micro businesses literally swamped by this storm have been breaking our backs, going without, exhausting savings, and standing by aimlessly as we watch everything we’ve built for years, even decades, ebb away. Who cares about the year round community as long as rides are running and people can lay on a beach? Coney Island looks like a ghost town when many of those businesses never even bothered to open again. And by the way, even the few businesses that have qualified for the “Emergency Loans” have yet to see the money – 10 months later!! Some emergency!!
So our status? Contrary to what some may believe, we did not “hit the lottery:, we are not “sitting on our winnings”, and no, Sandy wasn’t “the best thing that could have ever happened to us” (all things I have heard from people who think we made out like bandits!) Disappointed by a system designed to fail the people who it was supposed to serve – you know, the ones that pay the corporate taxes, payroll taxes, providing year round jobs and stable foundations in a city we have been born into, immigrated to, raised in and supported. Doesn’t matter who is in charge – what a disappointment to not even be allowed to BORROW ourselves into oblivion to try to get back on our feet.
Shaking Your Head – When Social Media Starts Off Wrong
After taking countless seminars, classes and webinars, reading e-book after e-book, and forum after forum on the subject of Social Media, it amazes me (oh well, maybe it really doesn’t AMAZE me) that people attempt to handle their business accounts the way they handle their personal Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
I met with a client today that wants to delve into the world of Social Media but is not “up” on alot of the in’s and out’s of its use. While 2013 brings about a change from worrying about “like” and “followers”, the real engagement is to offer the clients something to make them come back for more. In this instance, with this particular client, media and its ability to enhance his business is scoffed at – an old traditional place doesn’t need to get into all this “new stuff” but then he wants to make a splash on a Facebook page.
So we start out simply – he shows me a picture and says it received over 4,000 views – my answer, “what did it bring into the business?” His response, “I don’t know”. My next question is why did you post the picture which illicted the response, “These pasteries everyone loves! Look at the number of views!” But this business does not offer these desserts as a take home item, or a take out item, nor does it ship locally or nationally. So again I think, “Why?”
I ask if the picture is “tagged” …. “alternate text”…. “optimized so Search Engines can find it” and I am met with, “Why do I need to do all that? I don’t know what any of that is and what is it going to help?” So I, in turn say, “4,000 becomes 40,000 but again, what do you do with 40,000 views if the people can’t get to taste them?”
That comment didn’t go over well – shipping is not something they are going to do; they are a local restaurant and only have a limited amount of the product. The owner received many “comments” regarding this picture but doesn’t have the time to respond to any of them so he instead wants to just sit back and say “I got over 4,000 views”.
This is what not to do with Social Media.
Want to see how many people want to be your “friend” or “follow” you as you post a 140 character synopsis of what you do each moment, fine…. Facebook and Twitter are for you and YOUR PERSONAL ACCOUNT! Watch those numbers climb because, in all seriousness, they are just that, numbers – no one is buying from you, using your services, hawking your wares – nothing, nada! But for your business, well, that is a different story.
Want to post a picture? Make it relevant to the product or service you are trying to sell on whatever Social Media outlet you are using. Make sure it is tagged right, optimized correctly, hey, let’s even through this one in – use a CLEAR picture!! Then offer the people that are viewing something tangible – easy reservations, “We’ll save one just for you!” promotions, whatever will get them into the door of your local eatery or shop. Just as in life, don’t play the “tease” – there must be follow-up, follow through and something significant in the end.
Please keep posted to my blog as I chronicle the Social Media program I watch this business go through – what works, what doesn’t as my friend in his business does what he always does – wears way too many hats and becomes a master of letting things fall by the wayside. One day, maybe, he will actually hear me and let someone who knows a bit about Social Media handle his business’ Marketing and actually see a difference in the bottom line!
How long is too long?
Bureaucratic processes never cease to amaze me in the length of time they take to transpire.
My partner and I own a 20 year old business located in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. It’s a small event management company handling all types of occasions from Baptisms and Brises to Weddings and 50th Anniversaries – corporate or private parties – large or small, no difference. We are located right across the street from Gargiulo’s Restaurant, a 106 year old Brooklyn staple. That restaurant/catering hall has been in my partner’s family since 1965, family owned and operated.
On October 29, 2012, all of our day-to-day routines were swept out with the tide – literally! Hurricane Sandy moved in, bringing over five feet of water from Coney Island Creek first then the tidal surge from the ocean. All of Coney Island was covered with water and sand from the shore to the Belt Parkway. Not one property was spared.
Cousins had flooded basements; one cousin lost his beachfront home to the ravages of the Atlantic; at least a dozen personal vehicles all sunk; over 10 inches of water on the entire frst floor of the restaurant which is elevated over four feet from street level; a 10 foot tall basement, over 20,000 square feet, filled to the ceiling with sea water.
And then there was our store.
All of our stock had just been delivered. We had some of the best opportunities and events of our careers during the week previous to the storm – a soup-to-nuts First birthday party with a Halloween theme, American Cancer Society called us to due giant arches in Central Park at the start and finish lines of their main New York City fund raising walk, complete balloon decorations on the set of Rachel Ray for her Halloween show. It all seems like a blur at this point – so far removed from our reality now. Counters cracked the front door, items that had been raised up all fell to the floor and were sunk in over five feet of water, all balloon inflating equipment under water, almost all of the stock of balloons we owned gone. Not even the drawer of scissors survived.
We were done.
The day after the storm, my partner and I decided to close. Everything that was ruined by the salt water went into the garbage. Someone came by and told us that FEMA was in the area and we should go speak to them, which we did. It seemed surreal to me – we had vacationed in New Orleans a year before and to be sitting outside the same trailers we had heard about from the residents of the Big Easy was almost too much to bear. My partner was upbeat – positive even. All I wanted to do was cry.
With a restless night’s sleep in a home with no power, we came in the next day and decided to reopen because the representatives at the FEMA trailer sounded so upbeat. We would apply to the SBA and to the NYCEDC – we would be helped. Our staff stepped up and cleaned out the entire store – the young kids who had walked into our store looking for a job years before stood in front of us and told us that “We were in this together” and that they would help us rebuild. We knew we could work as long as we had a pair of scissors, a helium tank and some balloons. And that is what we did.
As we had back in 2001, after the September 11th attacks on our city, we got back to business. Back in 2001, our bank representatives showed up less than a month later to sign off on “Bridge Loans” available from the government to “help us recover”. Then, Coney Island didn’t seem to us like a terrorist’s target but the money came in and we were able to strengthen our business with the SBA behind us. This time, the SBA was behind us – basically kicking us while we were down.
All paperwork filed, interviews and meetings kept. Over thirty phone calls and hundreds of pages later – I am the proud owner of a denial letter from the NYCEDC (too high a risk), a denial letter from the SBA (we didn’t make a large enough profit in 2011) and a final denial from a private program as we owned property – no way to get the funds we needed to rebuild.
We were told we could reapply and appeal decisions. Any money we have made has gone to pay for the new electrical panel, new walls and insulation, new doors and moldings. Jim Parker and over 30 members of BalloonPlanet.com raised money to help us restock our balloon inventory. We received a $500 grant from the Alliance for Coney Island and a “Pay It Forward” grant of $1000 from LiteWing Naturals in New Jersey. These grants have helped us immensely – our thanks will never be enough to repay their kindness and thoughfulness.
But as for my faith in government sponsored programs that are designed to help those who need it most, I can tell you this: I was always told to do good and good would be returned. My partner and I have always tried to do the right thing – we’ve always tried to be fair, honest, supportive of our staff, eager to work for and help others. That is one thing that will never change.
My faith on the promises of our government programs? Swept away with Superstorm Sandy.
Lessons learned? Rely on yourself, treasure those that support you, work hard and pray for sunshine.
Please read the article below for information on the statistics the SBA and NYCEDC claim as “good percentages”.
Making Sense Out of Non-Sense
So many years ago, I was introduced to a program sponsored by Xerox called “Free Color Printers”. You get a free color laser printer from Xerox, you have to commit to a two or three year contract and you have to buy the ink and any other maintenance kits from Xerox directly. You pay a bit more for the ink, but no money for the printer itself. It is full covered under warranty during the life of the contract so no worries there either.
Of course, at the busiest time of the year, the printer shows an error so a call to the support center was made. Thursday afternoon, service request in, Friday morning, Fed Ex delivers two packages of parts and we waited for the tech to come. Which he did and “fixed” the printer. He finished and took with him the unopened box of parts. An hour after he left, the printer was showing the same error message.
So I call the 800 number again, they put in a service ticket and we will now have to wait until Monday. This morning, a new tech calls and says he just received the ticket, he would like to schedule an appointment for the 23rd (Tuesday). When I asked if he was the same tech from Friday, he said no; when I asked why he was not coming today, he said he did not receive the ticket until this morning so no parts were in and he could do no work on the machine. When I asked why the original tech wasn’t made to come back with the parts, he said he would rather not speak about another tech. Okay, I get that but I didn’t ask him to critique the previous tech, I just asked why he would not have returned seeing as though he had the parts and the machine was giving the same error message.
That was answered with, “You know ma’am, I’m just trying to help you out here; I’ll order the parts and come in on Wednesday as long as I get the parts”. Wait – does that mean he may not get them by Wednesday? He said it was possible. When I asked if it was then a possibility that the machine wouldn’t be fixed until Thursday or Friday, he said, “Well fine, then I’ll go by the book. I’ll come see the machine on Wednesday, order the parts and maybe we can fix it by Thursday or Friday”.
At that point, I gave up and said, “Okay, you do what you have to do – I just want to get this fixed. But I am calling the 800 number back to find out why the original tech who had the parts was not sent back” – he said “You know, I said I was trying to help you” – which I understood but to me, it was apparent that he was just the messenger – my questioning would have to be of the “back office”.
So I call the customer support center again; explain my position to three different people who all very nicely explained the same thing in the same manner – “no parts were ordered and that’s why the tech didn’t come today”.
One more time, Arrrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!!!!
I’m waiting for Wednesday to see what happens……
This seemed to be a running theme today as I found a note taped to the front door of our office from National Grid that stated they & their subcontractor would need access to the office, store and apartment in the building tomorrow anytime from 9am to 3pm. Of course this note was left less than three feet from our posted office hours – a sign that says we are closed on Tuesdays. The note was posted after 3:30pm today and listed a phone number available at their offices from 7am to 3pm.
Should I reiterate??? Arrrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!!!!
That’s the kind of day I had today.