I took over the business after the departures of my business partner and financier.
Despite the toughest recession in the hotel business in decades, my hotel has survived. About 50% of my hotel competitors, many of them lining John F. Kennedy Blvd. have folded or come under new management. When I took over, our occupancy rate stood at 48%. Today, our occupancy rate hovers around 86%. Our revenues are up by over 40%, and I have expanded my employee base to 12 to handle the increase in business. I learned new ways of marketing my property, including expanding our business to include long-term leases and airport parking with shuttle service. Simply put, SCORE has replaced my despair with hope.
I had one team leader and lots of mentors to help me. They were all patient with me as I learned the business from ground zero. Each had a hand in helping me gain the confidence and knowledge to success as a minority woman in a male-dominated industry. Through their intervention, I was not only able to save the business, but my home and only source of income. My situation was dire, both financially and physically. Shortly after acquiring the business, the bank informed me of their intention to repossess the hotel and transfer it to my financier and nephew, since he had proven management experience. My SCORE's "Smart Squad" sponsored me into CapitalOne Bank's "Getting Down to Business." There I learned how to market, sell, brand and keep the business' books. They taught me how to succeed honestly and in a sustainable way. The stress of saving a failing business while simultaneous fighting off bankruptcy and a hostile partner took its toll on my health. SCORE even helped me find a surgeon!
My mentors treated me like family. They stood by me and guided me when no one else would. They were kind, patient, and engaged in my struggles from beginning to end. Now that I have turned things around here, I can reflect back on the characteristics of my mentors and narrow the long list of their attributes to three big traits: compassion, professional expertise, and the willingness to share their extensive industry contacts with me. For these and more reasons too numerous to mention, I will be forever grateful to my mentors.