In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
MH: Coach Mary Ann Hauser
KR: Karim Razzak, President of Karma Contracting
Special Offer: 20% discount on any paint job, interior or exterior, for anyone who mentions this article
MH: Tell me a little bit about your business– what do you do and how long you have done it?
KR: My company is called Karma Contracting. We became contractors this year, but the business has been operating since 2015 and has transitioned a couple times over that period. We started out doing residential siding, fencing and decks, interior painting and renovations. Then, as we grew, we started also doing commercial projects. We have a good backing and following in the Triad. We won Minority Business of the Year for the city of High Point and for the State of NC in 2018. Since then, through marketing, advertising, brand affiliation, promotions, and sponsorships, we’ve built a solid brand for Karma Contracting in the Triad area. I also took an opportunity to invest in an automotive dealership that my brother-in-law owns, so I’ve been juggling both the contracting and automotive industries.
MH: Who is your target customer when it comes to commercial projects?
KR: We have worked with High Point University, we work with AZ Development in Greensboro, and we worked with management companies and product developers. PPG Services works with 46 national chains, like Verizon, T Mobile, Bob Evans, Microsoft, Crate and Barrel, and Lowes. They contract commercial jobs out to us – typically patchwork, painting, and pressure washing. Because all these retail stores have been closed due to COVID, most of my service contract work has either been put on hold or pushed back.
MH: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
KR: It has been a great opportunity for me to learn and transition. My commercial contracts are delayed, so the only option I had then was residential work, but it takes about five times the amount of residential jobs to equal one commercial job. Because the automotive industry had a little bit more demand for services, I took an opportunity to adapt to that industry and take advantage of that. One of the things I did was I started reaching out to college students and hiring them to post about us on their social media. I learned that I can get more business by advertising with college students on their social media platforms than I can through Google. My business has probably gone up 25% to 50% since I started using these college kids, so right now, I’m not spending a lot on other types of marketing. Another thing I did in response to COVID was make sure that I placed crews with the projects that best suited their skills to keep us as efficient as possible.
MH: What is your biggest learning since you’ve become a business owner and your best piece of advice?
KR: Learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Be able to adapt and change at a moment’s notice if it’s something that benefits your business. It could be software, a piece of equipment, or bringing somebody on the staff; you have to make those changes at a moment’s notice to bring value to your business. I’m always interested in people who have skill sets or knowledge that is beneficial to my company.
MH: Awesome. We’re living in some incredible times right now — what is most inspiring to you today?
KR: Becoming more involved. In 2017, I became a diversity coordinator for the City of High Point. We’re working to bring more diversity and inclusion, more awareness, and more equal opportunity to small businesses. We’re working to educate them and give them access to information and opportunities, but also learning from them which tactics, strategies, and methods are working for them. We also are working to be bridge-gappers: we link up the smallest companies with the biggest projects that they would normally never be considered for. I just had a company say, “hey, I have all the equipment, I have the crew, and I can do the work, but I just don’t know how to get in with X company”. So I’ll take the steps to actually plan out the project, and sometimes go in and become a vendor with that company and then sub the project out to the contractor. I learned that from Warren Buffett, to find companies that are capable of being a great business that if he invests in them, they’re going to go to the next level.
MH: Is there any offer you would want to include in this newsletter?
KR: I’d like to offer a 20% discount on any paint job, interior or exterior, for anyone who mentions this article.
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