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Fitness, Lift Yoga and How COVID-19 Has Evolved a Business [Podcast]

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Lift Yoga

Owner Lori Denton Shares her Journey

On this brand new episode of the Capitalist Sage, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini sit down with Lori Denton, owner of Lift Yoga and Body to talk about what business looks like in this new world. Lori has been able to figure out ways to work through the current COVID climate, listen in to find out how.

Timestamp (where topics appear in the program):

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:41] – About Lori and Lift Yoga
[00:03:51] – The First Year
[00:06:09] – Why Yoga?
[00:08:25] – Starting from Scratch vs. Buying a Business
[00:09:53] – Work Balance
[00:10:55] – First Impressions of COVID
[00:13:12] – Opinions on Local Leadership
[00:15:57] – New Implementations
[00:19:35] – Coming Back to the Studio
[00:21:31] – Virtual Class Launch
[00:26:07] – How to Keep Moving
[00:28:48] – Serving the Community
[00:30:27] – Learning Opportunity
[00:31:34] – What’s Going On at Lift Yoga
[00:33:12] – Closing

Resources:
Website: https://liftyogastudio.com

Recorded socially safe online and in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

“I couldn’t ask for a better staff than I have here at Lift Yoga. Everybody from the people that we have cleaning the rooms to our instructors, to our social media and photography resources. They’re just an amazing group of people and I couldn’t do it without them. So when they say it takes a village, I fully believe in that and they have done just wonders to help me balance that corporate life with the small business world.”

Lori Denton

Podcast Transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey, Rico, how’re you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:49] Good Karl. Beautiful day outside. I can see it from my window.

Karl: [00:00:53] It is, we are in August and things are going along. School’s coming back soon, all the very various versions of it. But why don’t you tell us about our sponsors for our episode today?

Rico: [00:01:05] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. Hargray Fiber is a company located in the Southeast and across the Southeast they’re a fiber optics company. They work with a lot of small businesses, as well as enterprise size businesses. Bring in cable optics, optic fiber, specifically, to be able to bring that into that connection to your home, if you’re teleworking, or to your businesses. They’re working with a lot of different companies across the Southeast here. They have a special promotion going on right now. So if you’re connecting, if you connect with heartbreak fiber this month, they have a thousand dollars gift card that would come to you, Visa gift card. So check them out, go to HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business. And you’ll find out more about them. You can even call them at (866) 407-0104. Find out more about their services.

Karl: [00:01:59] Oh, fabulous. Thank you very much Rico and thank you Hargray Fiber for being a great partner in the community and the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Well today, we are excited to have our guest today, Lori Denton. Who is the owner of Lift Yoga and Body based in Alpharetta, Georgia. And today we’re going to talk about, how businesses, small businesses are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk a little bit of what it’s like after we’ve reopened. And some of the things people are doing to innovate and to thrive through this global pandemic that we’re all experiencing. Lori, how are you doing today?

Lori: [00:02:39] I’m great, thanks. How are you?

Karl: [00:02:41] Great. Why don’t we start off by you telling us a little a bit about yourself and how you got into Lift Yoga.

Lori: [00:02:50] Sure. So, I’m fairly new to the Atlanta region, I come from the DC area. And I’ve moved all over the country. I’ve had a good, career in business development. I’ve had the fortune of living a little bit of everywhere. So when I moved to the Atlanta area, I realized that there was a good business opportunity to create more of the yoga environment that I was used to finding elsewhere around the country where I’ve lived. So, as soon as I moved here I kinda started dreaming about owning a yoga studio in this area. And again, bringing that style of yoga here, and I had the good fortune last year to purchase Lift Yoga and Body, which I am coming to
you from live here. And it’s been in business for about seven years. Took it on last year and it’s been an interesting year I have to say, not what I expected in my first year of ownership, but it’s been a good learning experience. I’m just thrilled to be able to take on such a wonderful location.

Karl: [00:03:41] Oh, that’s fabulous. Why don’t you tell us again where is Lift Yoga located?

Lori: [00:03:44] Lift Yoga is in Alpharetta, Georgia. Just down the street from downtown Alpharetta. Very great location.

Karl: [00:03:51] Great. Alpharetta is in North Georgia and got a great location and a beautiful studio, what a great history there. So you’re experiencing your first of couple years in business. I’m curious, how was it when you, before COVID-19, some of the highlights in your first year, but what were some of the things that you learned and experienced in that first year?

Lori: [00:04:15] It was, business was great. You know, I focused a lot, I’m a big numbers dork. So I tried to focus a lot on the numbers and what the data was telling me about what people were looking for, what classes they were gravitating towards, what times and days really tried to dig into the data as much as possible. I’m also a big fan of surveys and keeping tabs on what our main members were looking for. So I did a lot of surveys, tried to figure out what they were looking for. And from July to February, our first time visitors doubled over the prior year. And we were able to increase retention rates by about 25%. So things were going great. And again, I think that’s because I listened a lot to what our members were looking for. I think that’s very important and also listen to what my staff was asking for and what they were hearing from the community. So I tried to keep as close to that as possible. And we were seeing some really good results, positive changes in the business because of it.

Karl: [00:05:12] So, where did you learn to do that? Cause when we talk to a lot of small business owners, we don’t often hear them using data, getting surveys, from there. Where’d you get some of those ideas and how did you find applying it in a small business situation?

Lori: [00:05:27] Yeah. So, and it was funny because, I got a funny reaction from a lot of my members and the staff when I started to talk about statistics and numbers and put out these surveys, they were kind of surprised to see that in this environment. But my background is in big corporate business development and product marketing. And so throughout my career, I have relied very heavily on data. That’s where I start. And then I try to pull out insights from that and then get the real life, personal, feedback from consumers in order to match that with the data and then move forward. So a lot of it just comes from my personal experience and background in business. And tried to apply as much as the best practices that I learned from that as possible to the small business.

Karl: [00:06:09] So I’m curious, what made you chose a fitness industry in general and yoga specifically? What connected you to that?

Lori: [00:06:17] You know, I believe a lot in doing what you love and I’ve practiced yoga for about 20 years now. So I am a Yogi at heart. And so it was very easy for me to transition into owning the business because I had personally experienced it. You know, like a lot of people are very successful owning businesses that they don’t know a lot about and bringing in consultants, I felt like this was space that I knew a lot about. I could provide a lot of personal experience and best practices that I had seen myself. And so that’s really why I was looking for something in the fitness industry to get into a small business.

Karl: [00:06:52] What do you see as some of the benefits when folks, you know, join or get involved in this type of fitness in general and yoga specifically. How is it really helping your clients and the folks that support your business?

Lori: [00:07:07] So that’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that yoga is absolutely for every body. And I mean that truly every body, every type of person, every age range, every body type, because it has so many benefits from physical to mental. So and one of the reasons that attracted me to lift yoga specifically is many other studios have a very specific focus and only, may appeal to a specific target market. The brilliance of Lift Yoga, and I can say that because, the previous owner built a lot of that, so I don’t feel like I’m being conceited by saying that, but you know, the brilliance of it is that there’s such a wide range of types of yoga that we provide. So depending on how you’re feeling on any given day, we have the services that will match that need. So if you’ve had a really rough day and you just need to sweat it out, we have a hot power yoga for you. If you’ve had a super stressful day and all you need is to sit back and relax. We have yoga nidra, which is actually a guided meditative sleep. So there’s no movement. You lie there and somebody guides you through a meditation and it’s the most relaxing thing ever. And we have everything in between. And I think that’s very important because on any given day and I know I want to unwind in a different way than I did the day before. And we have something to fit every need.

Karl: [00:08:25] Often we talk to a lot of folks and their dream is to own and start a business. Why did you choose to acquire versus kind of start one from scratch? What was some of the things you considered and what do you think now that you’ve done that?

Lori: [00:08:40] Yeah. You know, there are lots of pros and cons of each. I think if I hadn’t found a good fit in an existing studio, then I would have looked to open my own. And you know, I don’t see the, the positive in acquiring a business and then doing a total overhaul. I think it has to be a good fit. And so it took a little while to look around the area and see what may be a good fit for me. And I think, again, that’s what has made it a very successful is that it already fit a lot of my needs. But overall, I think the thing that led me to acquiring a business versus starting from scratch is I have a full time job in another life, in my business development world. And the startup costs to completely build out a facility and find the right staff and find the membership base. I was looking at about a three year ramp up period when I did the full marketing plan to get to the place where the business already was. And so for me, it was worth it in order to
purchase the business that already had that established membership base and already had a phenomenal staff that was up and running and knew the inner workings of the business. That’s really what made the difference for me

Rico: [00:09:53] I was going to say, I have a question as well. You worked in the corporate world as well, right? Before this?

Lori: [00:09:59] Correct. Currently. Yep.

Rico: [00:10:01] Well, currently, even still. So how is that? How do you, how does that work with, you know, not only your lifestyle, but the fact that you have a job somewhere else? How does all that work? What’s the, is there stress level? Is there, where do you go with that?

Lori: [00:10:16] Yeah, so, and, you know, I’ll come back to the staff and again, that being a main reason why I look to acquire versus starting from scratch. I couldn’t ask for a better staff than I have here at Lift Yoga. Everybody from the people that we have cleaning the rooms to our instructors, to our social media and photography resources. They’re just an amazing group of people and I couldn’t do it without them. So when they say it takes a village, I fully believe in that and they have done just wonders to help me balance that corporate life with the small business world.

Karl: [00:10:55] You’re navigating that. So, I’m curious when, how did you first find out about COVID-19? What was the first place you heard about that? And what was your first impression as communication was coming out about it? That it was going to impact us back in probably February, March, early March timeframe. What were your first impressions?

Lori: [00:11:19] Yeah. Probably denial at first was my first reaction. As I think that was probably a lot of people’s reaction. And then I was just trying to stay on top of all the current news and it’s hard to know what resources to listen to. So I’d always try to go back to the main source, the CDC, you know, and try to sort through all the information that was being thrown at us during that time to try to figure out what was the best course of action. And it was interesting cause every day changed. And so, you know, somebody would ask me how I was doing today. I’m like, well, you know, it’s a whole new day. So we’ll see how today goes. We had to pivot quite quickly because as the days went on and as we got closer and closer to March 16th, which was when we ultimately closed the studio temporarily, more and more of the instructors were starting to feel more and more uncomfortable coming into the studio and being in large groups. And you know, in one of our spaces, we could have 30, 35 people in one class. Right now, the way it’s laid out with the size restrictions, we have 12 people. So that gives you an idea of how busy our studio was back in February. So as the days went on, I was trying to just treat every day as it came and make the best decisions that I could for that given day. And the day that we actually shut down, I didn’t plan on that happening, but I was trying to stay close to the business. I was here that day. It was a Monday. I remember it very well. We had two classes that morning and right before the second class, I turned to one of my instructors, Gail, and I said, Gail, I think
we’re going to have to close after this class. I don’t feel comfortable and I would never put somebody else in a position asking them to do something that I personally don’t feel comfortable doing. So, after that class, we announced that we were closing and we closed, March 16th and didn’t reopen until June 1st.

Karl: [00:13:12] How do you feel the reaction of the local leaders? Both the government, locally, city, state national, in those first few weeks and months to help guide your decision. What helped? What were, where did you get information and where do you feel was helpful? Where did you thought that we could have done better in helping the small business owner like yourself?

Lori: [00:13:35] That’s tough, you know? And that’s kind of a touchy topic, huh? You like to get straight to it? You know, I think it would have been really helpful if local government could have helped parse some of the data that was coming into small businesses. So there was just a flood of information from a whole bunch of different sources. So it would have been really helpful if they could have helped us kind of navigate who to listen to, what the best resources are and collect this is the majority of what people are saying. Cause it was very hard as a small business to both try to manage your business and sort through all that. So for sure that would have helped tremendously.

Rico: [00:14:16] Were you able to take advantage of some of the loans or things along those lines. Was any of that helpful to your business?

Lori: [00:14:24] Unfortunately not. And that was going to be the other thing that I said, you know, it would have been helpful if the loans were structured in a way that was more understanding of true small businesses, like, you know, a micro business such as mine just didn’t qualify for anything that was out there. The next tier up of small businesses probably did qualify, but the micro businesses, I think are most, much of what was hit the hardest by the closures. And so for us to not have gotten any support was really difficult and made me quite angry, honestly, at some of the things that were passed. You know, they were supposed to be in support of us small businesses, but they, I just didn’t qualify. You know, most of my, actually all of my employees are 1099 employees and that salary wasn’t considered in any of the loans.

Rico: [00:15:19] I’m sorry, was there anything else that you would have liked them to have done that would have helped the business?

Lori: [00:15:25] Yes. And so I think it was really important. It was all based around salaries. And I can understand why that may have been done, but if there could have been some funds that focused more on the fixed costs that small businesses have like rent, like electrical. And it was, those were all part of the staffing. So you had to have W2, basically employees in order to get any funding. And then you could use some of that for these other fixed costs. There was nothing that covered just the fixed costs for small businesses. So that’s what made it really difficult.

Karl: [00:15:57] You’re hitting on something that’s really important. so many small businesses are like, you know, some fewer employees, they may have 1099, those types of things. And when they pushed real fast, I don’t know that they were able to contemplate all the different types of small, especially if it’s a single, you know, one owner or one or two people, they started to figure it out later. I remember four weeks later you would start hearing, if you don’t have a payroll and you took draws and they started figuring it out after it, but you would think with so many really smart people and economists just separate them in a room and say, you know, a bunch of smart people over there, look at this group. Bunch of smart people over there and look at this group and help navigate through that. So that fell to the business owners like yourself to kind of help navigate. So after that initial shut down, when you had to start contemplating reopening. What were some of the things you implemented to make you feel comfortable in being able to open and stay open?

Lori: [00:17:05] Mostly, cleaning processes. And that is one of the things that I felt like again, I don’t, I think there’s so much still that we don’t know, but I have to go off of the data that’s available to me right now. So, before we reopened, I tried to research everything that was available that told me the best possible cleaning practices and what steps I could do to make it as safe of an environment as possible. There’s nothing that’s going to be 100% again, because there’s so much that’s unknown right now, but I tried to take every step that we could. So we increased our cleaning procedures, changed how we clean and when we clean. And I also acquired a UV yoga mat cleaner that mounts on the wall that is sort of touchless. So you just slide your yoga mat on and it goes through, and it has a UV light on each side that sanitizes the mats. So that was one thing extra that I specifically purchased just because of the environment. And again, who’s to say, who knows how effective that is or what it does. But my primary goal was, especially when it comes to a yoga studio. People come here to find a safe space, a place that they feel fully comfortable and welcome, and safe. And so that was what motivated me was to take every step that I possibly could to make sure that they feel that same way. And it ultimately, you know, just like the day that I closed, I had a feeling that said, you know what? I don’t feel safe here. And if I don’t feel safe, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to come into an environment that I feel unsafe. And so the processes that I put in place are well, what would make me feel comfortable coming into an environment like this? I know, with the fitness industry, it’s tough with all the spacing requirements. I’ve looked at the Legislation that was issued. And I’ve used the maximum amount of space that they’ve said is safe for fitness environments. And, you know, there’s a lot of yoga classes that don’t have a lot of heavy breathing. And so the philosophy in some of the yoga world is that you could probably pack in more people. Again, going back to what makes people feel safe and comfortable in this environment? I didn’t feel like that was the right way to go about it. So I have a full 10 feet in between each space that people set up in the studio. I have spots marked out on the floors so that everybody knows where they’re supposed to stay. And again, it’s every day. So as new information comes out, I’m always trying to stay on top of that and adjust however we possibly can.

Karl: [00:19:35] Well, I’ll say that, as I’ve been visiting business owners, especially in fitness, a lot of the small boutique gyms type that have reopened have been successful in keeping people safe. I mean, there’s nothing that’s foolproof or a hundred percent. But a lot of the great business owners have implemented safe. So people, I’m wondering if you’re seeing people come back more and more, the more time goes on from those first over the, probably the first ones that just needed to get out of the house. And now other people are probably getting more comfortable. Have you seen that pattern play out for you?

Lori: [00:20:11] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s been really interesting again, cause I’m a numbers dork. So I love to take a look at class sizes and numbers and how many people are registering and then how many people are showing up. All of our classes, we have 33 classes a week right now, all of our classes with the exception of two are also offered virtually. And that was the other thing that I felt was really important. Even after we opened the physical space back up, still having a way to make the people who don’t feel comfortable with coming into this space, still have a way to access, have some line to their previous lives. You know, like the way that they got their exercise or their, stress relief, before COVID so almost all with the exception of two of our classes are still offered virtually, but it’s been really interesting because June 1, when we opened, it was probably about 75, 25% of our people were joining virtually versus in studio. And now it’s the complete opposite. So as the weeks have gone on the majority of our members are coming into the studio and we have several classes where nobody even joins virtually any longer. Which is, it’s nice to see. Again, I plan on continuing those virtual classes just because I think that is important to have an offering for everybody, but it’s been interesting to see how people are slowly transitioning back into in-studio.

Karl: [00:21:31] I’m curious as you, I’m sorry. When you were saying about the virtual, how did you set that up so quickly and get that launched?

Lori: [00:21:41] Right. You know, it’s interesting cause a lot of my teachers have, instructors here have said how they were surprised how quickly we pivoted to the virtual world. And I think it’s one of those things and I probably, this is a characteristic of any small business owner is, it’s that fight or flight syndrome, you know, you learn a lot about yourself when faced with a crisis. And it was the first day we were closed. I said, alright, well, what can we do to keep things going? And the next day we had, almost the next day we had virtual classes up and running and it wasn’t easy. I don’t mean to make it sound easy at all. And I am so again, very thankful for my staff and their support in finding the right way to go about it. And our members for being so patient while we’ve worked through multiple iterations of it, not working in order to find a solution that does work. But they’re, you know, their support was what got me through that. And it’s been interesting. And this is one of those things that I’ve learned transitioning from the corporate world to the small business world is, at least my experience in the corporate world is that, you know, I’ve always been in leadership roles and if you’re a strong leader you dictate what needs to happen and you move it forward. And in the small business world, it’s been an interesting transition to really listening to my people and taking their feedback and their wisdom and their experience into account and trying to apply that. And so, you know, I firmly believe your staff
and your support group is everything and really the key to success. So, and I’ll mention Gail again, cause she’s just been incredible. Gail was my poor Guinea pig. So every time she’d come in for a class, I’d say, all right, we’re going to try something new. And we’d try something new and it would either work or it wouldn’t. And at the end, we’d sit down and I’d say, what worked for you? And I’d get her feedback and I’d say, okay, thank you. I’ll take that back. And we’ll try again tomorrow. And so, it was an interesting transition, but you know, it was again survival. And everybody said, you know, like, how are you doing? And I said, right now I’m in survival mode and this is how we’re operating and we’ll figure it out one way or another.

Rico: [00:23:43] You know, it’s amazing cause you’re one place versus a franchise, right. Franchise like, not in yoga, but like Crunch fitness, let’s say. I mean, they have a whole big corporate entity behind them to figure out what to do. There’s actually an app or a service out there that has zeroed down to the yoga business to be able to help a variety of yoga businesses, book classes online, for example. So there is a service like that. That’s out there. I don’t know if that’s still, I just saw a podcast on that, on how I built this. They just were doubling their business up until COVID and then all of a sudden things even got better for them in a way, right? But you were able to solve it on your own. I mean, were you able to, and it’s not like you’re shooting from your studio, so were you? Or were the individual instructors doing it from their homes? For example?

Lori: [00:24:34] Yeah, at the beginning and I certainly didn’t do it alone again. I owe a huge credit to my entire staff. So certainly didn’t do it alone there. That was also, we took it day by day. So for a while, the instructors still felt comfortable coming into the studio to shoot. And then there got to be a period where it got really kind of scary and we found solutions so that they could record from home. And for those that didn’t have the technology, they would still come into the studio and it would just be me and the instructor and I’d be the technical person. And they always joked that I was like the elf under the table. Cause I’d be sitting under the table with like two computers and I became like an AV expert. I never thought I would know anything about audio visual anything, but you know, I have the two computers and the microphone. We tried a different headset every time we came here. But it was just trial and error and Survival mode.

Rico: [00:25:26] So I know that, I mean, if you, if you, if we ended up going into a second wave, obviously, but you’ve set up, could be rolled back out again.

Lori: [00:25:34] Yep. And there’s lots of, you know, when we opened back up, that was my priority again, to make sure that this was a safe space. But one of my goals is to come back to the virtual classes and see how we can even expand on that further, because there is a big market there. It’s going to be a while before some people feel comfortable coming out into public and being in group gatherings again. So I want to be sure that we’re serving that part of the population. So there’s a whole lot of opportunity. It’s just a matter of, kind of biting off one bit at a time and kind of managing it as we go.

Karl: [00:26:07] I love how innovation comes kind of out of need and how small business owners are the ones that drive. Before there were the large Starbucks, there was a small, you know, individual place that started figuring out what to do and continue to grow their business. I’m curious now that we know that this will be around for awhile and I know, school’s coming back the fall. How are there ways you can innovate and change your business and do things differently to continue to prosper and try to, you know, just excel through this.

Lori: [00:26:43] Yeah. So, that’s a great question. And again, I always try to keep in touch and keep as close as possible with my members and what their needs are. And a lot, just because of where we are, the demographic of where we are. I do get a lot of stay-at-home parents that come here and I tried to listen to them. And, you know, as we come up on another year of homeschooling, how is that impacting you? Because, a lot of our day classes are filled primarily with stay at home parents. And so that was a concern for me. And it was a concern for them, you know, how are they going to get out and still get their, their yoga time and their me time, but also still deal with homeschooling. So actually we have a new program called om school, like, Om as in yoga. And homeschooling. So it’s called Omschool. And we have the fortune of having two distinct spaces here at Lift yoga and so the idea is that the parents get together with their neighborhood or their friends or their pod and bring the kids. We’ll have a tutor for the kids and they’ll stay in one room. And the, you know, have somebody taking care of them and answering any questions and helping them with their school studies while the parents come into the other room and do a yoga class. Or if they would like us to facilitate a book club for them, whatever it may be. We’ll take care of the parent’s needs while their kids are being taken care of in the other room. And so that was our way of addressing and continuing to try to innovate and meet our members needs.

Karl: [00:28:13] That’s fabulous. Can you imagine a big corporation, the malts of decision makers that would be involved and from your corporate career to try to do something? And one of the best things of being your own boss is, you know, you can get input from your customers and your team, and you could say, let’s try it. Let’s do it real really quickly,

Lori: [00:28:35] Being nimble and being that small business and being able to be nimble has been really great. And it’s a good to apply my learnings from my corporate world, but also be able to implement them in the way that I see best in my small business.

Karl: [00:28:48] I know, I know that. I see a lot of stuff that, that you and Lift yoga does in the community and connect people with that. Why don’t you share a little bit of how you, some of the things you get involved with that helps connect you with the greater community that you’re in.

Lori: [00:29:04] I’m so glad you asked that because, you know, this is again, coming back to how best can we serve our community and it going beyond just our physical space where people pay to come into here. I really think that every small business has a duty to represent and fill the needs of their community. So we’ve actually expanded the number of free community
classes that we offer to people who live in the area, both through the city of Johns Creek, as well as Alpharetta. We now have, six, I believe, free classes that we offer to the community in outdoor spaces. So there’s the big benefit that they’re in outdoor spaces. So, we can get larger gatherings. People can still have their yoga time and it also helps obviously to get the word out about Lift yoga and what we’re all about. We always offer free class cards to get people to come in and try the studio. But I do feel that it’s very important as a small business to support the community. And that’s a small way that we do it. It also helps our, we have a very successful teacher training program or yoga teacher training program. And it’s a great way to allow those new teachers and especially now that a lot of studios are closed and there’s limited teaching opportunities. Those community classes are a great way for them to get experience. So it serves the needs of the community, the needs of our new yoga teachers who are just coming out of training and a good way to get our name out in the community.

Karl: [00:30:27] So, I’m curious now that you got in this experience over acquiring a business, owning it, and running it and then dealing with a pandemic in the first year. What would you say is the biggest thing you learned about yourself in this part of your journey?

Lori: [00:30:47] Ooh, that’s a good question. Definitely just the ability to quickly pivot and do what it takes. I’m not the type of person who sits and considers something for an overly, or a long, long time. You know, like I weigh all the data that I have. Again, I rely very heavily on numbers. I also rely very heavily on my gut. And if those two things match up, I go for it. And I didn’t think that it was to the extreme that it has been over the past six months, but it has been interesting to reflect and say, okay, yeah, we changed it was on a daily basis. Every day we’d come in and have a new business plan. So that’s been interesting to see, again, how I’ve mirrored kind of my corporate life and my personal life and kinda brought those together to continue to expand the business.

Karl: [00:31:34] Well, that’s fabulous. Well, I’m curious, you know, as you go into, end of August and into September, do you have anything going on that you want to share with folks? What do you have going on over the next few weeks?

Lori: [00:31:46] Yeah, so obviously the Omschool is our big initiative. And I think, you know, it’s just a matter of parents figuring out what their, what the schedule is going to be with the kids being at home for virtual schooling for another semester, maybe another whole year. But we have the Omschooling. We’ve got a lot of interest in that. So I’m excited to get that up and running, and have a few groups come in for that. And then, we’re moving forward again with our teacher training program. We have the 200 and we’ll be launching a 300 hour program in the spring. So trying to keep yoga going, even in this new environment. And it’ll be interesting to see how we layer in sort of the current yoga teaching world into our next teacher training program. It’ll probably change things quite a bit.

Karl: [00:32:30] Absolutely. Well, all the people that are worked here from home for all the time, I think they’re going to need ways to relieve stress and to get more centered. So, definitely
encourage folks to check out a yoga studio and Lift Yoga in particular, whenever they have a chance. So, really appreciate that. How would folks get in contact, learn more about Lift Yoga and get in contact with you?

Lori: [00:32:52] Sure, so they can go to our website. Our schedule, both virtual and in-studio and as well as the free community classes are all on our website, LiftYogaStudio.com and that’s Lift not like the ride share community. LiftYogaStudio.com and they can reach me at info@LiftYogaStudio.com.

Karl: [00:33:12] Oh, fabulous. Great. Well, I want to thank you so much, Lori, for sharing some of your experience. I know folks are probably where you were thinking about what do they want to do next in their careers and want to look at owning a business. And you’re a great example of someone that’s been able to navigate that and do that successfully even with 2020, which is a year that had a little bit of everything thrown at it for the small business owner. So thank you, Lori.

Lori: [00:33:42] Thank you very much.

Karl: [00:33:46] The owner of Lift Yoga and Body located in Alpharetta. And again, thank you for sharing your insights and your experience in your first year, first couple of years of owning your business. We also want to thank the community that continue to support Capitalist Sage Podcast. We still get excited about talking to business owners like Lori, about what they’re doing here in the local community and be able to provide this service to the community to help just share the good things that people are doing. So for all those business owners out there that are you know still nervous about what the future holds with their business. I think we saw great examples of how to pivot, how to use data to run your business and help make good decisions, staying optimistic, engaging your staff and team. And if you take good care of your customers, they’ll continue to support you as you go through your business. So, really great advice that you shared with us today. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree, our business is to help people become like Lori, their own business owners. We help people with selling and buying businesses. We’re available to consult with folks that might be thinking of selling or buying a business at any time. And you can reach us at www.TWorld.com/ AtlantaPeachtree. And Rico why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got going on.

Rico: [00:35:12] Sure. Lori, I want to thank you too, by the way. Lots of good work that you’re doing. I love the surveys you did with your clients and learned quite a bit from them. So that’s the only way a business can thrive, right? Knowing their customers just as well as themselves almost. Cause otherwise, especially in this world, you won’t know where you’re going. Right. But we are, hopefully you got this in the mailbox this week, Peachtree Corners Magazine. Right about there, I guess, gotten this in the mailbox hopefully. It just came out this past weekend. Lots of good stories in there we did a great article. Actually, we profiled even Karl in the article where there was seven different people, seven different profiles. It was kind of neat to be able to talk about diversity in the city of Peachtree Corners. So it was, we got a lot of great feedback
and continuing to get good feedback on this cover story. But also in the stories that are in it, I mean, there’s lot of stuff on rocketry on a plan, Natural Air and Space museum, on the opening of the schools and what that will look like. Although 24 hours after we went to press, Gwinnett County, decides they’re going back to school in about three weeks. So some, you know, you can’t help it, but things happen. So, you know, we updated our website articles at least. But there’s a lot of other good stuff in there. We’re already planning the next issue, which is, going to be a lot of good stories in there. I believe we’re going to have pets and their people, we’re going to have a surprise cover story, hopefully that we’re putting together at this point. And like every issue, there’s always a bunch of stuff in there. So hopefully you like it. You can come to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com to find out more about the magazine and what’s going on in the city of Peachtree Corners. And also to click on the tab for Capitalist Sage, you’ll find our previous podcast there as well, or just go to iHeartRadio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Check you know, search Capitalist Sage Podcast and you’ll find that there. And Mighty Rockets is the company that pulls it all together. It’s going well. We’re doing a lot of social media work, a lot of video, a lot of brand management, besides publishing and podcasts, that’s been fun, been busy and, we’re always zooming or doing something like this, right?

Karl: [00:37:27] Yeah, Rico, just want to compliment you again of doing fabulous job with the magazine online. You know, staying relevant to topics, COVID-19, social justice, the work that you’re doing to just you know, talk to the community and it’s really a great job and a great service to community as well.

Rico: [00:37:49] It’s been fun. And having you working with me Karl, not that we’re patting each other on the back here but Karl’s magnificent, because I mean, Capitalist Sage. I mean, you do the heavy lifting to get the show going. So I’m happy you’re my cohost on this. You bring a lot of insight into this. Great guests like Lori, to be able to talk about the businesses. It’s all good. I think we’re all bringing something to the table that hopefully is helpful to the business community, the residents here and people that we know and love. So I hope that we’re giving something back.

Karl: [00:38:20] Oh, absolutely. So if you want to follow, like us on Facebook as well, and you’ll be updated with late breaking information that really impacts the local community here. And again, you can follow us on any one of the streaming platform, the Capitalist Sage. Next week we have another exciting business owner that’ll tell them about their journey through the pandemic and how they’ve pivoted their business. So we’re going to continue to give you relevant information to help you improve your business. And just want to thank everybody for all their support. Take care, everyone. Have a great day.

Rico: [00:38:51] Take care, Lori, Karl.

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Peachtree Corners’ Curiosity Lab Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

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Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is celebrating its one-year anniversary as the world’s first 5G-enabled living laboratory for testing, demoing and deploying autonomous vehicle and smart city technology.

“Joining Curiosity Lab as a resident company and member has created new opportunities for us to engage with non-traditional partners and accelerate our growth,” said Eyal Elyashiv, Founder and CEO of Cynamics, a disruptive AI-based Network Visibility Solution for Threat Prediction and Performance Optimization “Peachtree Corners has built a one-of-a-kind technology ecosystem in Curiosity Lab that enables technology companies such as us to test and prove next-generation solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

The city of Peachtree Corners founded and launched Curiosity Lab on September 11, 2019 in conjunction with Smart City Expo Atlanta. Featuring a 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track, 5G connectivity, dedicated DSRC units, a network operations control center, smart traffic light and smart poles, the Lab enables corporate innovation teams and startups to test their technology in a real-world environment where more than 8,000 individuals work and live.

The Lab combines access to subject matter experts and experienced serial entrepreneurs with infrastructure that accelerates growth and engagement for established companies and startups.

Since its opening, the Lab has experienced significant growth with the addition of some of the world’s most promising technology innovators. Building upon that momentum, Curiosity Lab launched a variety of partnerships with organizations such as Georgia Power, Delta Airlines, the Ray, ASHRAE, The Technology Association of Georgia, The Metro Atlanta Chamber, Kennesaw State University and Georgia Tech.

Curiosity Lab milestones during the year also include:

· Winning Transportation Project of the Year in IDC’s Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA).

· Deploying Local Motors’ Olli, the world’s first co-created autonomous electric shuttle, for several months with city residents.

· Launching the world’s first fleet of shared e-scooters with teleoperated repositioning.

· Expanding its technology infrastructure to enable research and testing by academic, corporate and startup technology innovators.

“The last 12 months have been exciting and challenging – but Curiosity Lab has remained focused on facilitating innovation and creating opportunities for our members and ecosystem partners,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. “Our grand opening demonstrated the potential of new technologies for a future yet imagined. Autonomous delivery that was novel this time last year is critically important today.”

Curiosity Lab is actively recruiting innovators working on mobility and smart city technologies. To learn more, visit: curiositylabptc.com/contact/

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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of the Restaurant Business

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Capitalist Sage podcast

Clifford Bramble, author of “Within Our Walls” an “inspirational story for the restaurant industry,” and the founder and owner of Hungry Hospitality joins Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini to talk about the current state and the future of the restaurant business. Recorded socially safe from the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Website: ​https://www.hungryhospitality.com
Social Media: @HungryHospitality

“No matter what industry you’re in, you have to learn and do the job before you actually become an owner of the job. Or the owner of the business. So if somebody wants to get into the chef position, they have to learn how to cook. If somebody wants to learn how to do the business side, they have to learn the front of the house stuff. So it’s really important that they still have to be working for somebody to learn from somebody. They can do it in school, but they’re going to learn a lot more on property, inside a restaurant.”

CLiff Bramble

Where to find the topic, timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:49] – About Cliff
[00:03:35] – Why Restaurants?
[00:07:22] – First impressions of COVID
[00:09:19] – Doing Things Differently
[00:14:07] – Finding the Right Information
[00:17:52] – Reopening
[00:18:57] – Looking to the Future
[00:25:21] – Restaurant Real Estate
[00:29:20] – Getting into the Restaurant Business
[00:31:12] – Closing

Cliff Bramble joined us on our video chat podcast.

Podcast Transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine. How’re you doing Rico?

Rico: [00:00:47] Hey, Karl. Good. Thanks.

Karl: [00:00:49] Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about our sponsors today?

Rico: [00:00:52] Sure. Let’s go right into it. Our lead sponsor I want to thank is Hargray Fiber. They’re a major company in the Southeast that handles fiber optics, internet connection at the speeds you need. And also because they handle, because they’re right in the community, they’re not your cable guy, right. You could call them up, they’ll be right out there. They’re very attentive to their client’s needs. Whether you’re a small business or you’re a large enterprise business, whether your employees are working from home or home and office, they’re providing all the smart office tools that you need to be able to do the work that your company needs to be able to get sales done. So check them out, they’re HargrayFiber.com. Or you can go to Hargray.com/Business and check them out because they have a thousand dollar Visa gift card going, promotion. And you may be one of those if you hook up with them. So check them out. Thank you to Hargray Fiber.

Karl: [00:01:49] Thank you. Thank you Hargray for continuing to sponsor all of the podcasts here. Today I’m excited to bring back a guest that joined us when we started this, if you remember. Cliff Bramble, founder and owner of Hungry Hospitality here in Gwinnett County. He’s here to talk a little bit about his perspective and experience and thoughts on business, small business in particular restaurant. 2020, it’s been a tough year for so many businesses. And in particular, you’ll see a lot of restaurant business being impacted. But I’ll tell you, being able to understand the history and what makes things work, is a great conversation to just show how we could support small business and maybe even talk a little bit about what it’s gonna look like post COVID. So Cliff how’re you doing today?

Cliff: [00:02:41] I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on.

Karl: [00:02:43] Well, many people might already know you and so on, but I’d love for you to share your background with folks so they can understand the many, many things that you’ve done in your career.

Cliff: [00:02:55] Absolutely. So, I live in Peachtree Corners. So I’m around here quite frequently. I was, I had the Nobel Fin going for quite some time until COVID came in. So I’ve been in the restaurant business for many years. I cofounded Rathmines Restaurants many years ago. And in the meantime, after that, ended up opening up Noble Fin. And now I just started a new company called Hungry Hospitality because, Noble Fin, I had to close it. Which isn’t a good thing, but we had to do what we had to do to start with COVID. But being in the restaurant
business and also real estate and also investing, I’ve been working with businesses for many years and I really enjoy it. It’s always a fun thing to do.

Karl: [00:03:35] Well, that’s what we’re here to talk to is the small business owners. We know it could be lonely owning your small business and having others to be able to share ideas with talk, to get ideas from, we know is very helpful. And so, why don’t we jump right in? And I’m curious when you did all your experience in a restaurant, what are some of the things that attracted you and many people to the restaurant business? From a business perspective, why do you think people get into that?

Cliff: [00:04:03] Well, you know, there’s a lot of glory in restaurants. A lot of people love to be in it. There’s, you know, there’s many people that will say, Hey, I’d love to open a restaurant. I don’t know about right now, but over the years they always have. But there’s always a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of adrenaline that’s going on. You know, there’s that. You’re around some nice people all the time. You’re around people all the time. And some people think it’s just an excitement thing all the time. You’re always excited. There’s always something going on. And although there is, you still have to run the business, with the HR and the hiring and all the other aspects that go into it. But the restaurant industry, it will come back. It’s having a challenge right now, but it will come back and there’ll be just as many people in it.

Karl: [00:04:44] Yeah. Over the years, I think one of the things is I always associate restaurant with creating memories. People get engaged, they have family feasts, birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day. And no matter what is happening in the economy or the world, people are going to want to celebrate with other people. They’re going to do it over food. And so we know that that’s going to sustain over the long term. What are some of the things that people, when you think about restaurants, they don’t know about the restaurant industry that you think they should for folks that have been in it for awhile?

Cliff: [00:05:18] Well, a lot of people may, again, people think it’s a fun industry. You, number one, you have to be there when you open up a restaurant, you really have to be there most of the time, especially if you’re independent. If you’re working with five and six other restaurant groups or you own it, and you have the luxury of hiring people because you’re a very profitable organization, you will have less time within the restaurant and more time operating the company because somebody still has to run the company. But the options are, is that people don’t see the hard work, the sacrifices that go into owning a restaurant. If it’s your kid’s birthday and you own a restaurant and you’re opening and it’s Friday night, you probably have to be there. It just depends on what people’s version and definition of fun and excitement is, but there’s a lot of hard work that you have to be there all the time.

Rico: [00:06:09] You know, I remember when we did a podcast, not too long ago, about your travels to Italy. Yeah, that was fun. I mean, you shared some pictures. You talked about the food and all that. Do you miss any of that? Do you miss being, you know, I know it’s only been a
little while. You know, but sometimes I feel like people leave a business and it doesn’t take long for them to miss it. Like a few days even.

Cliff: [00:06:34] Yeah. It’s interesting. You mentioned that if somebody asked me that the other day, just yesterday and he said, Well, are you going to get back into it? And I said, listen, I’ve been doing this for about almost 40 years. And, I’d love to say that I want to jump right into it, but I have to tell you I’m having a good time not being in it right now. So, you know, what you do realize is all of a sudden you realize all those things that you really couldn’t do over the years and you missed, all of a sudden they’re back at you. But you do miss the, you know, the fun of the excitement on a nightly basis, meeting all the different people. Because you do meet a lot of people in the restaurants and you have a lot of friends in the restaurants or acquaintances. But the other thing you miss is you miss the good food. So we cook at home all the time now.

Karl: [00:07:22] I’m curious when all, COVID-19 started to happen, where did you first hear that something was happening? How soon did you hear something was happening? What was your first thoughts and reaction to that?

Cliff: [00:07:35] Well, I’m involved in investments and financial side as well. And I’ve been, I started watching it in December to be honest. And, so in December I really watched it and in January I became obsessed with it. To a point where, I was up at three 30 in the morning, reading news from other countries, from that all the way to the East or the West, wherever it was. That was already happening and I was watching it. So for the month of January, I watched it and I read. I read a lot of information about it and I kind of warned a few friends of mine. I said, you know, if this comes over here, restaurant wise, we may end up having a big problem. Now I didn’t know how big of a problem it was, but watching it escalate, I took a lot of screenshots basically when the John Hopkins first started tracking. It had, there was two people. I have a screenshot with two people in the United States have it. And then it continued to go up and up and up. So, you know for me, I started watching it in January really, really, more so than December. But when I had over at Noble Fin, I did tell my staff in January. I advised them I said, listen guys, if this comes over here, it’s going to affect everybody. So start saving your money. And actually quite a few of them thanked me later on. And they said, man, I can’t believe that. But we did save our money and thank you very much. So I watched a lot of it in January. And then obviously in February when it started to pick up, you know, it just continued. I think the financial markets, in my opinion, kind of ignored it in January. You know, just paying attention to it, wondering what was going to happen on the hospitality side. It took a mind of its own and obviously where we are now today.

Karl: [00:09:19] Yeah. I remembered you actually being one of the first ones to talk about it and, you know, we were chatting and you were starting to do that early March, late February, early March. But I don’t know that people really understood how long this would be around. And we all didn’t know enough information about how we responded and how many. There was a time there were country that had a spike and then they got it under control and everyone thought that that’s what happens. But decisions and choices and behaviors and all these things played in.
And we’re a big country with a lot of complexity to it. 50 States, a lot of different approaches to tackling it. So, when you knew that it was going to impact your business, I know there are things you can do generally. Is there anything looking back, you’d advise the restaurant industry as a whole or people that are leading large in the food and beverage space, things that a year ago, you know, hindsight’s always 2020. Things that a year ago, things that could be done to prepare, if something like this were to happen. What would be some of the things in the food and beverage space that good business people could do? Could have done?

Cliff: [00:10:38] Well, one of the most important parts really for me, was making sure you had enough cash flow in a situation like this or any emergency situation. And, you know, I’ve worked with my accountant and it’s very interesting. Making sure that you have enough cashflow for three or four months. And most people in the, you know, we’re all in the same boat. Most people in the United States only have two or three months worth of a fund saved. In a restaurant the same exact thing. You do have to treat it as a business because that’s exactly what it is first. The fun of the restaurant has to come second. But having the cash in bank and making sure that you have enough for an emergency situation, honestly, it helped me tremendously this time. Now obviously you can not predict what’s going to happen how far along this is going to go. But, there still are, you know, we’re still in the pandemic. There’s still restaurants that are having challenges, especially in different segments. So you know, when it comes down to it, in my opinion, no matter what business you’re in you always have to plan two, three, four, five months worth of cashflow to make sure that you have that. Because when you need it and you don’t have it, you can’t get it.

Rico: [00:11:46] Let me ask you something. You know, I don’t think the restaurant business. Is immune to things, right? They’re listeria outbreaks, the salmonella outbreaks. Those are common. Every day there’s always a recall somewhere in the country for something. Especially romaine lettuce. Well, romaine lettuce from Arizona, I guess, or wherever it comes from. It’s like that one place, you know. So you have all that going on and then you have the pandemic on top of that because you have the normal stuff like that. So do you see this coming back? I mean, they’re talking about it coming back again. You know should restaurants are planning out for this type of thing beyond the money? You know, how do you plan the health wise? How do you keep things clean? And not that you know, a pandemic this may not matter, I guess the cleanliness. But how do you, what do you see there?

Cliff: [00:12:42] Well, I wish I had a crystal ball. I really do, but you know, restaurants in general are clean. You know, we clean them all the time. You have a cleaning crew or you have an outside company who comes in and cleans it. So it just, it really depends, but you still have to remain diligent on what you’re doing and you have to continue to train your staff.That’s there and make sure the management is on guard. Make sure that everybody’s paying attention. Because it, you know, what happened to me over at Noble Fin is really the reason why I ended up closing the first time in March was because somebody walked in. And then they had a party of 10, but they came from out of town. They called up two days later and they said, Hey, by the way, I think I may have COVID. You may have to tell your staff. So that was a real big
eyeopener for me when I’m dealing with hotel guests from the Marriott locally here, and, you know, the international companies that are around Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett. That was a big eyeopener. So you know, keep being diligent about listening and watching what’s going on and listening to your staff because your staff will tell you a lot of what’s going on. But more importantly, you have to continue to remain diligent and be clean and make sure you’re paying attention to everything around you. You can’t just be paying attention to your four walls within that restaurant. You have to be paying attention to what’s going on in the business world as well, because it does affect restaurants.

Karl: [00:14:07] That’s a good point. Early on information was flowing from so many sources to help guide you on restaurant safety and protocol. What was the right source to listen to? How do you figure out who to pay attention to?

Cliff: [00:14:24] That goes right about now too, we’re still trying to figure it out. You know what? The Georgia restaurant association has a great page on COVID. So, you know, any restaurant, or individual, or an employee of a restaurant or hospitality field, they can go onto the Georgia restaurant association webpage. And they have a great COVID, it’s a webpage with all types of resources on it. So that was something that I really paid attention to because they were very keen on keeping that up to date on a daily basis. Even though every day something came out differently. They were very good at keeping their website up.

Rico: [00:15:01] What did you, did you find useful the other resources that the association provided? I mean, obviously the restaurant industry is different than other industries because of the employees. And just the nature of sustainability and all that product. When it came to the Cares Act, to PPP, to loans, to payroll. You know, when business is not happening, was that any of that useful to you? I mean, I know you did a lot for your employees. God knows. I think anyone that lives in Peachtree Corners knows that Cliff Bramble, Noble Fin. You guys really, you really employed your employees as long as you could.

Karl: [00:15:39] And the community.

Cliff: [00:15:41] We did. We did. I honestly, I mean, we did pay attention. You know, when the Cares Act came out, I was very much aware of that coming out four or five weeks ahead of time with my fingers crossed because I told my staff the same exact thing. Hey guys, this is, if this comes in, I’ll be able to help you guys for this much longer. And to be perfectly honest, I mean, I kept a lot of the staff on. I couldn’t, I think 26 staff members on for the nine weeks that we were closed and they got their paycheck. You know, and that was important to me because we opened back up, everyone of those employees was back there to work. Which is a great feeling. So, you know, so yes. The other items that were out there and the people that, you know, friends of mine in the business world also. You know, from my banker to my accountant, we were all kind of talking about the same exact thing. So, we all help each other. And, there was a lot of guys in the restaurant business that I spoke with as well. We had a few, what do they call the zoom meetings, right? We had a few of them. Which were pretty cool because everybody
really helped each other. And I think that’s what the industry is really needing right now, is people to help each other being in the same industry.

Rico: [00:16:50] Well, was it a little scary at one point when they were sort of changing the rules of the game a little bit? Like you had to spend it all in eight weeks and then you could spend it in 24 weeks. Maybe some of it’s forgiven, maybe not some of it, that formula was changing. Was any of that scary?

Cliff: [00:17:07] You know what scary could be a word, but confusing is more of the word. There’s no question about it. I mean, you try to become an expert at this stuff because you know, you’re learning about it, but you’re trying to learn as much as possible. And, I have several, you know, several email friends that would send me information. Hey, this is what’s going on. My banker would send me information. I would go to treasury.org. I would go to all the different government websites and pull down the latest information. But man, confusing is the word, because, you know, one day you go, wow, this is fantastic. And next day you’re up and down. And honestly, you know, you think you lose sleep when you have a restaurant? Go through COVID and own a restaurant, you’ll really be losing sleep. And that’s probably with any business too.

Karl: [00:17:52] Right. I wondered when you reopened and people started coming back, what were some of the, you know, the response the community gave as people started going back out to restaurants and as you walked around town? What was your general sense and feel on how people felt about it?

Cliff: [00:18:10] You know, we opened back up May 25th. It was eight weeks after we had first closed. And I think we were one of the earlier ones that we opened up. And I felt that at that time it was probably a good time because I didn’t know how long this was going to continue. But the people who came in, I have to tell you, we had a very, very supportive clientele and a lot of the people who had frequented the restaurant over the years, they were the first one’s back. Yes, there were some people that came in with masks. Yes, at the very beginning. But we did everything that we possibly could to make the people feel comfortable. But when it comes down to it, you know, the people who came in, they were very supportive. They were very happy that the restaurant was back open. They enjoyed the food and they came back a couple of times. But as the confusion set in, you saw less and less of them.

Karl: [00:18:57] Yeah, yeah. I know people are happy now. If you fast forward to today, restaurants are open and people are going out to eat. Yes, the world’s changed a little bit, there’s a little bit more spacing and so on. But I’m looking in the future, there’s a short term where, you know, until, vaccines are available and so on. We’re going to school dealing with this, we’re working dealing with this, we’re living our lives dealing with this. What do you think the restaurant industry is going to look like over the near short term? And I’m going to ask you, what do you think it’s going to look like a little bit further on? How does this change how
business owners approach food service, delivery, in dining experience. How do you think this could change it? And any of them for the better?

Cliff: [00:19:42] You know, the restaurant industry, I think right now is changing on a daily basis. But, you know, we’ve gone through a lot of different changes in the last six months. Let’s face it. We went from being like, for example, you got quick service, you got full service, you have fine dining, you have fast food. And what happened for me, for example, was you know, we went through the whole process of, okay, let’s see if we can continue with the sale. So we started to-go stuff immediately. And then from there you started selling stuff online and then people started ordering it online. But now you go into the future and all that stuff is still happening. Where there’s a lot of people eating outside. But let’s face it, it’s 95 degrees outside. At nighttime it’s fine. I know a couple of places that they set up their patio and outdoor front, and they look really, really cool. And people do dine in them. But the future-wise, I mean, you’re looking at home delivery. You’re looking at more chefs cooking at home, chefs from restaurants maybe doing meal preps. And that’s already happening. You know, and there’s also a lot of virtual cooking classes as well that’s going on. Where chefs or restaurant owners are doing the virtual cooking classes from their kitchen or they’re doing a zoom cooking class, basically. So the nice part is, is it’s working and people are going with it. What’s going on in a year from now? I don’t know. I mean, there may be some consolidation, but there’s also a lot of companies out there with some pretty deep pockets. That are looking for good brands to purchase with great locations because the restaurant industry, it’s not going anywhere. It will consolidate, it will change, but it’s going to come back. Sooner or later it will come back. But we are dependent on the hotels, just like hotels are dependent on us. And I know in Peachtree Corners there’s still one, at least one hotel that I know of that is not open. But this is people in this area, the less traveling we do, it does provide a challenge for what’s going to happen now or in the future as well.

Karl: [00:21:38] I’m curious. In New York I saw some areas of New York city shut down the streets and allow the restaurants to go out into the streets, where they get the advantage of spacing and they’re able to deliver a different experience. But also, do you think there’s a future and figuring out a way to leverage outdoor space and eating for the short term. And then I’m sure, you know, over time and it’ll go in there. Have you seen any innovations in that area?

Cliff: [00:22:10] You know, most of the cities and the towns have really eased the restrictions on the outdoor dining. I know Peachtree Corners has, so that has helped tremendously. You know, it’s really up to the building departments up to the coding and also how long this is going to continue. Hopefully there’s a vaccine where we can all say, okay, in six months, eight months, this is all done. And people are back dining in air conditioning, rather than sitting in 95 degrees.

Karl: [00:22:33] Yeah.

Rico: [00:22:33] Well, you know, I think that this has shown us though that this could happen again, right? I mean, this is just, this can happen again. And it doesn’t take long, right?
Transatlantic flights. I mean, by the time anyone really knew what was going on. We were already deep into it, you know what I mean? You were able to see it coming, maybe so were other people, but obviously some people ignored it. And it came and slapped us in the face. It was really bad in Italy and Greece and some of the other countries in Europe. But like you were saying things change, right? Yeah, I think there’s more ghost kitchens going on now.

Cliff: [00:23:09] Absolutely.

Rico: [00:23:10] Right. And to explain that to some people that don’t know what a ghost kitchen is.

Karl: [00:23:14] What is a ghost kitchen?

Cliff: [00:23:15] Well you know, there’s a place called Prep Atlanta over by Spaghetti Junction. They have, I don’t know how many, I’d like to say there’s about 75 to 100 different, 100 square feet. Some are 80 square feet kitchens. And I’ve been in two of them. One of my old chef has a food truck and he took me into one of his places and man it was pretty cool. But basically they’re doing all the prep there and then they basically will deliver it to somebody else. I know Elon Musk’s brother is heavily involved. He raised about, only about $500 million to start these virtual kitchens around the United States. So the virtual kitchen, it could be something where you have a restaurant where Noble Fin used to be, for example, and have four or five different kitchens only in there. And basically you order everything online and you just go pick it up. So it remains to be seen, but I think that that virtual kitchen definitely has a huge lifespan coming up to it.

Rico: [00:24:11] If you see what’s going on with like Domino’s pizza, right. The pizza industry is really good at this. There were set because most of their stuff is delivered anyway, right? So Domino’s is no, I think it’s Domino’s right. There’s no sit in, it’s all delivery, right? It’s all curbside or pick up or delivery. You’re seeing more of like what you said. And I’m seeing companies that are doing four different brands within a ghost kitchen. Like they own the whole thing, but they’re doing it for, so that pizzeria, mexican, chinese. They own all four brands let’s say and they’re in some hole in the wall place that’s conditioned for a kitchen and they’re selling right?

Cliff: [00:24:50] Delivery only.

Rico: [00:24:51] Yeah. And then, like you said, your chef started a food truck, right? So I’m seeing more of that.

Cliff: [00:24:58] And I’ll tell you, what’s interesting. He goes to neighborhoods too. He goes to different neighborhoods where, when all of a sudden when, you know, this whole COVID came in. Obviously the business parks had disappeared. Or the people, the parks are there, but the people weren’t. So he ended up going to neighborhoods where they would call him and they have 40, 50 people there and he’d serve them on like a Tuesday night.

Karl: [00:25:21] Yeah. We saw a few of those. Those are good. We ordered dinner, when they would pick neighborhoods from different restaurants, we thought that was fabulous. I’ve got a question that might be more technical. Since you, one of the biggest costs for restaurants is the space, the real estate, the space you’re in. Do you think this is going to have an impact on commercial real estate, being able to charge the same rates, if you can’t have as many people in a space. How do you think that’s going to affect that part of the business model for restaurants?

Cliff: [00:25:57] Well, you know, it’s interesting that you say that. But, you know what, when it comes down to the per square foot, you know, the restaurants are going to move out and restaurants live off of what you’re sales are per square foot and also what your rent is per square foot. And if you have a large restaurant and the rent is, you know, $40 a square foot. You know, in Georgia, in Atlanta, it’s probably a lot less than other parts of the country. But you also have a sales forecast for that specific restaurant square footage. So knowing what your sales are going to be or what they forecasted compared to what they are, the rent will be. And it’s, especially with only at 50% seating capacity, it’s going to provide a challenge without a question. So there are going to being landlords out there trying to charge more rent. It depends on how bad somebody wants a location. If somebody wants to pay for it and they want to be in a restaurant. If they have 4,000 square feet and they need to do $600 a square foot, which is on the medium level. They really want to do $800. So that’s three and a half million dollars in sales, but if they’re paying a low $20 a square foot, that’s great. But if they’re paying 35, your occupancy costs are going to be way too high. So it’s very important to pay attention before you go into it and know what you’re sales are what you think they’re going to be. But with COVID, you know, the next six months we just don’t know.

Karl: [00:27:20] Right. Yeah. And I see, I know with all the vacancies that are happening or projected to happen between retail, restaurants and others, it’s going to have an impact. I remember December, most landlords were pushing price increase in lease updates. Some may still it’s all very local. So it depends on laws, or people, or location. But if the model changes where you can’t drive as much revenue, whether it’s by people or the price you charge, you can’t get the sales volume. Don’t you think that that will force landlords to have to either face vacancy or build a model that allows, you know, business owners to be successful and come to the table. Now over time, like it happens every other time prices will increase again. But for the short term, it’s important that we, that somehow that gets figured out.

Cliff: [00:28:19] Well, you know, listen, we all know there’s going to be a lot of retail space available within the next six months. It’s already happening. You know, whether it’s here in Atlanta, West side, downtown, you go to old fourth ward. I mean, there’s so much happening right now. You look at Alpharetta. Alpharetta is, you know, it continues to grow. Peachtree Corners, there’s buildings here, but there’s also empty buildings as well. So the more of these companies that are not letting or telling their employees to stay home until June of 2021, it provides all of a sudden empty space. Now they still have leases on them. Some of them maybe they own the building, but it’s all really dependent on whether they can work it out with the
landlords. I got an email today from somebody who’s closing a bunch of restaurants and one of the main reasons was because they could not work out a solution with their landlords. So ultimately the landlord is either going to have empty places for, until COVID is over or there’s going to be somebody else who walks in and says, Hey, I have five brands and I want to put them in that place. Maybe for a virtual kitchen. You just, you just don’t know.

Karl: [00:29:20] That’s gotta be. So what are your thoughts on someone thinking of getting into the restaurant? Just finished working at some restaurant, moving into the Metro Atlanta area. Any advice to folks that might be looking to step into it?

Cliff: [00:29:36] You know what, if they’re looking to get a job right now, you know, there are a lot of jobs out there where people are looking for, restaurants are looking for people. You look in the suburbs right now. Suburbs are pretty much doing better than in town. Because a lot of the in town, especially downtown is reliant on the hotels, downtown Atlanta. But the suburbs right now are the places to really find a job. Because the suburbs are coming back a lot more quickly in the restaurant side. Not as much as the hotel, but definitely in the restaurant. It’s coming back more quickly. So the jobs are out there. They’d have to look in the suburbs before they go in town.

Karl: [00:30:09] And as for a career path for someone that wanted to own a restaurant. What types of positions and roles would you recommend someone craft that they wanted to build a career to be an owner of a restaurant one day?

Cliff: [00:30:24] Well, you know, if they wanted to be an owner of a restaurant right there one day, they could probably buy a lot right now.

Karl: [00:30:31] And are they ready?

Cliff: [00:30:33] But they might not be ready. But you know what, it comes down to they have to continue to learn. They have to continue to work at another restaurant. They have to learn from somebody else who’s doing that. And you know, no matter what industry that you’re in, you have to learn and do the job before you actually become an owner of the job. Or owner of the business. So if somebody wants to get into the chef position, they have to learn how to cook. If somebody wants to learn how to do the business side, they have to learn the front of the house stuff. So it’s really important that they still have to be working for somebody to learn from somebody. They can do it in school, but they’re going to learn a lot more on property inside a restaurant.

Karl: [00:31:12] Well, I want to thank you for sharing some of your wisdom and experience navigating through not only just this crazy 2020, but an industry that already has its ups and downs and challenges, and you continue to be successful in all things you do. Anything you have coming up? So what keeps you busy nowadays? What type of stuff you get yourself into?

Cliff: [00:31:36] Man, you know, I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing a lot of pivoting you know. And when we had Nobel Fin, we pivoted to to-go, then we pivoted to online and, you know, ended up closing that. But I started a new company called Hungry Hospitality, which really it’s my main focus now. So I’m working on that and I’m working on these classes called audio business classes. They’re really business classes that are online and there’ll be subscription basis. There’ll be coming out probably sometime in October. And it’s really geared to the hospitality industry, but also the business industry as well. So it’ll be something a little different, but I think it’ll allow people to learn 24/7 and basically download whatever they need. So it should be interesting.

Karl: [00:32:16] Cool. I know a lot of people that would be able to really use some of that wisdom to share.

Rico: [00:32:21] Where can they find, what website can they go to? Where they, where can they find you if they want?

Cliff: [00:32:26] Yeah. Right now all my information is on HungaryHospitality.com. Right now that’s the consulting side. And the consulting side is really working with the restaurants, working with business owners, real estate people, realtors. And you know, a lot of people could use, they always say, man, I never knew this stuff. And you know, the nice part is if they want to learn how to open up a business, it’s better to have somebody who has already done it then trying and making all those mistakes and costing them a lot of money when somebody can guide them to it and help them immediately.

Karl: [00:33:01] Oh, absolutely. It makes perfect sense. Well, I want to thank you Cliff Bramble with Hungry Hospitality, local business leader. And I just want to thank you personally, for all the things you did in the community. Bread you were giving away during the time just being a voice.

Rico: [00:33:21] How many pounds of?

Cliff: [00:33:22] I was making that in the back kitchen and having a good time.

Rico: [00:33:25] You came up with 400 pounds of dough or more,

Cliff: [00:33:28] I think in total, almost 800 pounds of dough. But it was good, you know what I mean? It was a good time, the people enjoyed it. And you know what? I think that the people needed something like that. And, you know, you have to do something like that and get back to the community because the local people are the ones that helped you out in the first place.

Karl: [00:33:44] Well, I want to thank you. You’re a great example for the community and continue to wish you all luck on some of your new endeavors. Well, for today, I want to thank everybody for joining the Capitalist Sage. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business is to help business owners figure out what comes next in life,
whether they are looking to exit the business, sell, whether they’re looking to acquire a business to grow through acquisition or through franchising. We help people realize those dreams. You can reach us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, what do you have coming up?

Rico: [00:34:23] Sure. Well, I’m Rico Figliolini. I have MightyRockets.com and we’re a social media content creation company. But I also publish Peachtree Corners magazine so that’s six times a year. Keeps me busy. Talking about passion, I love doing this stuff. I have great writers with me. We’re working on the next issue right now. So part of that is pets and their people. We’re going to be running a, we’re launching a giveaway next week on that. We’re also doing, asking people to give us what they’re thankful for. So our hopes are accumulating 50 people and what they feel they’re thankful for this year. Besides family and friends, we’re all thankful for that. But what else are you thankful for? So you want to get a sense of what that is in Peachtree Corners. We’re curating that and putting that in the magazine. And we’re also wanting to be doing a bunch of other things, including backyard retreats. So we’re profiling five of those. Really some great looking backyard retreats that people can go to. There’s one place, I forget how many acres it is, smack in the middle of Peachtree Corners, has its own rapevines and place to just hang out. It’s kind of a neat place. That’s one of the places, but we’re doing all that. So and these family of podcasts we’re doing. Because you’re the heavy lifting, scheduling everyone on these podcasts and it’s kind of cool. You’re bringing in really good interesting people. Cliff this hour, this half hour was really, really good learning about you and the business. So all that, and we’re fortunate to have Hargray Fiber as a sponsor of these podcasts. So if anyone wants to find out a little bit more about what’s going on in Peachtree Corners or any of the podcasts we do go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll be able to find out all sorts of things.

Karl: [00:36:15] So I want to mention one more thing as we wrap up today. It’s great having folks like Cliff and other business owners all over the community, because I don’t know if a lot of children get to see business owners. They go in patron in the business, but they don’t know the people in the community that do it and some of these things. And so if this helps to prepare the next generation to be great business owners, small business owners I think, it’s going to drive the economy. So, this is a joy for us to do and we want folks to follow us on Facebook. And on Facebook, is it Living in Peachtree Corners?

Rico: [00:36:53] Well, it’s Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook. So if you like the page, right, and you’ll get alerts for it. If you go to YouTube and you search Peachtree Corners Life. Subscribe there and you’ll also get an alert because we’re doing these things live to YouTube simultaneously if we don’t get dropped. So I think we went about 27 minutes before we got dropped. So the full version will be up after this.

Karl: [00:37:17] Awesome. And then the website?

Rico: [00:37:20] Well, the website is LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. and on Instagram, we’re Capitalist Sage so check it out.

Karl: [00:37:29] Absolutely. Well, thank you everyone for tuning in and thanks Cliff again. Take care of everyone. Have a great day, everyone.

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Business

How an Adult and Senior Care Service Pivoted their Business During COVID19

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Aysha Cooper

How did one company choose to adapt and pivot their business and stay relevant, during COVD-19? In this episode of the Capitalist Sage, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini are joined by Aysha Cooper, the owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia. In the world of Senior Healthcare, professionals are looking for answers on how to pivot in business. Aysha has found some great solutions to the problems of today.

Resources:

Phone: (678) 691-1610
Website: ​https://mckinleyga.com
Social Media: @McKinleyGA

“And the one thing that we want to assist families with is being proactive versus reactive. You know, a lot of times we will get calls in crisis mode and then you’re struggling to pull all these pieces together. So it is how can we give them the tools to plan and prepare properly.”

Aysha Cooper

Where to find that topic in the podcast:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:52] – About Aysha and the Center
[00:04:53] – Initial Thoughts
[00:05:49] – Continuing Care After Shut-Down
[00:08:05] – Pausing to Reflect
[00:13:03] – Industry Changes
[00:19:56] – Technical Aspects
[00:24:32] – Sharing Advice
[00:28:07] – Closing

Podcast transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to help bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors. And my co host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:52] Hey Karl, good. Good. Beautiful day outside.

Karl: [00:00:55] It is, it is. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about our sponsors today?

Rico: [00:01:00] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. They’re a fiber optics company that supplies some of the fastest internet that you’ll see out there in the marketplace. They’re a southeast company that provides, here in the community and Peachtree Corners specifically. High end fiber for businesses, whether you’re small or enterprise size, doesn’t matter, they will provide the tools to do smart office with. We have to be connected to your teleworking staff, to your business. It doesn’t matter which it is, and they’ll create bundles and create packages for you to make you work the best you can in this COVID environment. So go check them out. HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business and check their current promotion of a thousand dollar visa gift card for those that become qualified clients. So check them out. They’re our sponsor.

Karl: [00:01:52] Alright. Thank you. Well, I know a lot of people are doing homeschooling and so fiber optics is becoming a really important part of the landscape for every week. But today I am happy to bring our guest Aysha Cooper who is the owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia in Gwinnett. We’re here to talk a little bit about, how businesses are navigating the pandemic in 2020, she operates, works with the elderly and operate various resources and services to help support that community. And she’s here to share a little bit about her background, her journey in that business, and hopefully share how other business owners can continue to evolve their business as things change. How are you doing today?

Aysha: [00:02:49] I’m good Karl. How are you?

Karl: [00:02:51] I’m doing fabulous. Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and how you got into your business?

Aysha: [00:02:59] Okay. Well about, almost 12 years ago, we launched an adult daycare center in Snellville, Georgia. And we have grown over the last 12 years, of course, from three participants to almost 45 to 50 a day. No vans to three vans, three employees to 20 employees. And, then the pandemic happened. So, but we have a love for our senior community and still want to be able to be here to provide care for them and their caregivers. But that is, that was the nuts and bolts of our business since 2010.

Karl: [00:03:41] Oh, so why don’t you, for folks that may not be familiar, what are some of the services and things you provided for our senior citizens and elderly and in the center?

Aysha: [00:03:53] Okay. Adult daycare centers are a day center for primarily seniors that can’t stay safely in their home. But it’s also providing peace of mind to their loved one, caregiver, maybe an adult child. If it’s an adult child that adult child may still work. If it’s a spouse, they may just need a couple of days, where they can go run errands with, you know, without their loved one with them. And so what we provide at the day center or provided at the day center was activities that were specific to stimulating them. You know, especially if they had a cognitive impairment, then we would provide activities, meals throughout the day. But we also had a medical oversight with, because we were an RN supervised center.

Karl: [00:04:53] So, I know most people know that when the pandemic came around, it really impacted elderly community. And those were some of the most at risk population. What did you think when you started hearing about COVID-19 back in probably late February or early March. Did you know who’s going to have the impact is going to have?

Aysha: [00:05:17] Oh, no. I mean, when we shut down, we shut down Wednesday, March 18th and I’ll never forget it. It came so fast. And, you know, maybe it was slowly turning and other people were able to be more on top of it than we were, but we knew people were still in crisis. And so we wanted to provide the care as long as we could. But once, you know, it was a state shutdown, then we had to make the choice to shut down. But we thought we would be back in a couple of weeks.

Karl: [00:05:49] Yeah. So what were the options to the family members of the caregivers once, you know, the center wasn’t available and open? What were some of the things that people were having to do to continue to give care and support to their loved ones?

Aysha: [00:06:06] Well to keep people safe just as we have done, most people have to hibernate in their homes. And, you know, they have the longest stay at home order and it changed often. You know, first it was 30 days away, and then all of a sudden it just kept getting pushed back. So, these people are still at home and doing the best they can with their loved one.

Karl: [00:06:30] So that raises an interesting question. I’m sure you keep in contact with others and in the same industry, same business. What were some of the things that people were doing and what are things that people are doing now in their businesses that specialize in caring for the elderly?

Aysha: [00:06:50] Well, you know, even the, you would have thought that people may still needed services. But I do know that it impacted the home health industry as well. People didn’t want individuals in their home, which is understandable. One thing that we did to pivot was, or at least just keep their loved one engaged, keep them stimulating with their loved one mental
stimulation, is we provided activity packets, we had to do that through our Facebook page. And we did send out an email to families. We had a pastor that’s been coming to our center, providing devotion. I had been open six months and he came and blessed us and had been providing devotion with our participants for all that time. So he also provided us a devotion to share with them. You know, and that was just ways that, you know, to help people stay mentally healthy, hopeful, and engaging. But it was very limited of what we could do, especially not being able to go in people’s homes.

Karl: [00:08:05] So once you’re in this situation and you can’t, you’re not allowed to reopen the center yet at that time, what were some of the things you were thinking of as the options? Walk us through some of the options that you might’ve considered, even if you didn’t go down that path. And what were some of the, what are some of the options you’re you’ve explored pursuing?

Aysha: [00:08:27] Well, to be honest Karl when it first happened, I was in my own space of mental clarity. You know, finding mental clarity. You know, letting go of 20 employees and almost 80 families that don’t have care right now. I mean, you can imagine the weight that someone has to carry with that and it being out of your control. So, I had to really just sit with that for, and it took me a couple of months before I could figure out what I really wanted to do or how we were going to pivot. But sometimes rest is the best place to get clarity. And so I got plenty of it for two months. You know, whether it was, you know, depression or just overwhelmed and, you know, a lot of fatigue, emotionally drained. But I woke up from that with a great perspective. I say, you know, God gave me a good download of how to move forward.

Rico: [00:09:37] You know, it’s funny. I’ve heard this, this remark about how covered has paused people’s lives, right? How they become more in tuned with their kids, with their family, because they’re forced to be in the same area, same place. And even how some people look at their work in their job and it gives them that forced retreat like you just mentioned. Where you’re able to look at life and what you’ve been doing, where you would not have been able to do that before, right? I mean, would you have been able to just sit down and say, you know what, I needed a three day weekend retreat, and just see what I’m doing with this business. Would you have done that before?

Aysha: [00:10:17] You said a three day or like two months retreat? Yeah, with just me and my son here doing digital learning and you’re right. You know, It’s interesting. A lot of people have, you know, you see posts and it’s unfortunate that people are going through this and it’s not been well for them. For me, I just wanted to find, the clarity in how to pivot in a positive way. And it’s allowed me to do that, allowed me to be with my family, like you said, Rico. And I’ll explain that with some of the services that we have launched. But that’s, those are the things that we can’t ever get back. Those moments.

Karl: [00:11:06] It’s true. Yeah. We, I noticed a lot of small business owners, when this started were not sure what to do cause they came so fast. And we had introduced a bridge plan to
people to just simply figure out your breakeven. Figure out how to reduce expenses that make sense for most people. We wanted them to figure out how to increase income and then that’s kind of stabilizing the base. The part that folks started struggling with is one, what kind of conversation, we called it disclosed. What kind of conversations do you need to have with your employees, if they had questions? Your clients and your customers, with your community, how do you stay engaged with them while no one knew how long you were going to be closed and what was going to happen. But then as people started to push their way out of this, it got back to G, get working. Get out there, start, don’t just sit in the turtle shell. But you know, your competitors and other people are doing that. And the ones that started hustling, working, figuring out so many new business models were being created. So many innovative ways to maintain their business, offer new services, find new clients. And the E, the last part of the bridge plan E, was talking about excelling and how do they prep themselves to excel going into the future. Now I know we’ve chated a little bit. How do you see the industry changing that you’re in and what opportunities do you think that you can start moving into to help service that client base that you had, but in a different way, with social distancing, and masks and all of these things that’s creating these barriers.

Aysha: [00:13:03] And, to mention the technical challenge with the population we serve. So we’re still a little bit, but it’s providing care for them in a different way. And that’s what we are doing. And so, when I woke up from my slumber, it was, I have a building, I have a commercial kitchen, I have vehicles, what can I do with it? And that’s what we started working towards was how can we use what we have? You know, to your point about cashflow and cutting back expenses and things like that. You know, it’s even though you’re reinventing the wheel, you still have to be cautious of the investment because of the limited cashflow. And so I had to make sure I was using what I had. And so that’s what we did and we started a home delivered meal service first that was just developed to provide meals for our previous families that were enrolled in the program. Because again, no one thought that this would last that long. So we still had all of their belongings at our center. So that was our way of just seeing them and being able to say hello, take them their belongings, take them a meal. Put our eyes on them. We tried to social distance as much as possible, but that’s hard to do when you have a center full of love and hugs, you know?

Karl: [00:14:45] Yeah.

Aysha: [00:14:46] But we’re moving forward and just looking at what is the need. And the need right now is caregivers are at home and they need support. They don’t get the respite care that they used to get anymore.

Rico: [00:15:08] And you find that, are you finding it easy enough to work with them to be able to do, with the caregivers? You know, with the existing care caregivers I’m assuming.

Aysha: [00:15:21] Is it easy to work with them?

Rico: [00:15:24] Right.

Aysha: [00:15:29] Yeah. It’s easy to work with them. You know, they’re at home. They don’t mind that phone call. They’re glad to have it.

Karl: [00:15:39] So if I hear, if I understand right, a caregiver would drop off their loved one at the center. They’re able to go to work. They are able to do other things and so on. And the center and your staff is able to fulfill different care needs that they might need. And so now that they’re also the primary caregiver and they don’t have that option. Are you describing a system where you support the caregiver? Arm them with the skills, experiences, tools to provide better care for their loved ones while they’re having to be the primaries to do that for the foreseeable future?

Aysha: [00:16:25] Yeah. Ultimately it will be a caregiver resource center. Where we have vetted resources that are available to them all in one place. Because right now it’s very fragmented. And which could discourage anyone from trying to find the resources and the care that they need. So it’s having a compiled list of care providers, vendors that want to support the caregiver. Within the center though, we’ll be able to provide some events, but we’ll have a limited attendance with the virtual component because there’s still a lot of people, you know, that aren’t coming out. But we want them to still be able to participate. And, what we will do is have events around self care. But also have experts speak to them on how to continue to care for themselves, a health care professional. And then there’s some education, that I have trained. One is powerful tools for caregivers and the other is dealing with dementia. Both I was certified through the Roslyn Carter Institute, because they do a great job at providing the education and the tools. So we’ll just be able to bring that to them. And again, still have both components an in person and virtual option for that. So I wanted to be that one place that you can go to and find your, what’s gonna equip you as a caregiver to better take care of your loved one.

Rico: [00:18:09] You know, that’s interesting because when my, God bless them they passed away, my inlaws lived with us, my wife had to find services. She had to call a dozen different places in the state of Georgia, different services, different senior services and stuff. And there was not one place that she could pull these things together from. There were individuals, that would say sometimes you could go here, go visit this website. But not someone that can actually do it for them or become the concierge. If you will, of senior care, to be able to provide that service to her. She had to do all the leg work. And it was I’m sure for everyone, it’s almost like reinventing it every single time, but it sounds like you are able to not only provide some of the services, right, but also be able to pull it together for them. I would imagine.

Aysha: [00:19:05] You know, these are things that we did for the family caregiver that was dropping their loved one off anyway. You know, if they came in with questions or needed assistance with something, then it was our job to find it for them. You know, because this is a challenging moment, you know, when you are taking care of a loved one with a cognitive or physical impairment and either you’re still working, you’re not taking care of yourself. And so it’s
not that we don’t want to take care of our senior, because we love our senior gems, but we do also understand the burden of caregiving and we want people to relieve themselves of the guilt and take care of their own mental health.

Karl: [00:19:56] I think you’re highlighting something really important for folks to think of. In the past year there’s been several business owners that I know that either had to sell their business or consider stepping away from it to care for a loved one. And when they didn’t know what options were available to them, they thought the only thing they can do is to shut down their business or to sell it. And, you know, as I started learning about the services that were offered, just more people being aware that there are options there that people could leverage that could help them with that, help them get the answers. But I would remember some folks spending hours and days going to the wrong place for the wrong information, struggling through that. And I love this idea of a center where this information is happening. And sometimes people could plan ahead. If you know, a family member is moving to town and has needs, you could start the training. You could start educating, start pulling those resources together. Especially as people tend to leave the cold of the north than move down south more. That’s something that happens and it’s hard to find good places where you can get that information and get that support and help. So I think you’re tapping in. I’m curious though, you know, every other business, restaurants started Ubering and different doctors are doing virtual appointments. How do you see technology playing a role in this? And how is there a specific thing that you have adapted to what you used to do live or in person, but have shifted leveraging technology in some way?

Aysha: [00:21:49] Well, we will have to of course have the virtual component. So we’re still working on that. I have a little bit of time, you know, we are figuring things out still. But putting down our systems and foundations and making sure we launch correctly. We’re still here to help in the meantime, but yeah, we’ll have to. And see in our challenge will be as not just being able to provide the virtual component, but then ensuring that the person on the other end has access to that.

Karl: [00:22:24] Yeah. Knowing how to receive it. Well, I know there’s a large scale experiment happening in the school system right now. Where they’re figuring out how to digitally learn and do things digitally. Just recently ordered are these pads where kids could write and draw on and it translates over to their computer. And that would normally be, it’s up to you if they could have the luxury. But now, I’m already seeing how the kids are learning digitally is starting to transform. So I’m a little scared of what the future is going to look like because we’re going to have really fully, digitally native kids that are learning once we get through this period of transition.

Aysha: [00:23:10] But thank goodness we have the platform, because if we didn’t even have the platform to build off of, we would have been in real dire straights.

Karl: [00:23:20] Absolutely. But I think you’re highlighting, we’ve been focusing on the kids. And maybe we need to expand that focus to the elderly and what services can be delivered digitally
and how do we help them cross that gap more effectively. But I could see people showing up and helping people navigate, you know, virtual reality, augmented reality, possibly and all sorts of cool technologies with new applications.

Aysha: [00:23:52] Yes. You know, I do want to, you said something interesting earlier about, helping families prepare. And the one thing that we want to assist families with is being proactive versus reactive. You know, a lot of times we will get calls of in crisis mode and then you’re struggling to pull all these pieces together. So it is how can we give them the tools to plan and prepare properly.

Karl: [00:24:32] What would you advise someone? If I had a family member that was, let’s say relocating to town, and what will be things that loved ones and children could do earlier to prepare. If they know that in the upcoming weeks or months or year, they may have to care for a loved one. What are some of the suggestions you’d give folks?

Aysha: [00:24:56] Well, I think sometimes people have to make that decision and their house isn’t ready for the parent. I mean, one of the first questions is how will mom or dad be able to navigate throughout the house if they are using a walking device. But even before that, we had a lot of adult children. You know, whether it’s, you don’t have the choice or not, there still needs to be a certain level of sensitivity to it. Especially when you’re moving a parent from their town, their friends, their church, everything that they know to a whole new environment. And so you have to be sensitive to their mental health and wellbeing. So it’s how can you get and keep them engaged and involved, no matter what stage it is. So, you know, if they are a fairly independent senior, but just can’t stay safely in their home out of town anymore, you know, how can you keep them engaged in the community? That stimulation helps people with cognitive impairment. It gives them meaning. So we need that. They don’t want to just sit in someone’s home. So it’s researching, first of all, you know, is your house equipped, but then what is in your community that can keep your parent or loved one involved. You know?

Karl: [00:26:33] That makes perfect sense. I like to think that, you know, there are resources out there that can help guide people through this. I’m always curious of, have you come across any instances where you know, you see people really do a great job of preparing that and stepping through that. Are there, is there a trigger or things that people might do and conversations they have with their parents sooner? How do you, how do they even begin that conversation?

Aysha: [00:27:11] You know, that’s a tough one, Karl. Because first of all, you find out how collective your siblings are and who’s the actual care, the financial burden. You know, we always recommend having a family meeting prior to. You know, so that you can identify which siblings are willing to take on what. But yeah, you and I both know those are tough conversations to have with your parents and they aren’t the generation of just sharing.

Karl: [00:27:47] Right. Yeah.

Aysha: [00:27:50] I think more importantly is what can we do now as we sit in our generation to make sure our kids don’t have to go through what some of the adult children are going through now.

Karl: [00:28:07] Very, very good point. Well, I tell you, it’s been fascinating listening to another business owner who’s journeyed through this. And, but I am really excited seeing how you’re figuring out new ways to serve the community and your clients and the families, the family members of those clients there. And as you continue evolving, I definitely want to keep in touch and just learn how it’s coming along. But if folks wanted to just learn more about this and learn what you’re doing, how can they reach out to you and learn more?

Aysha: [00:28:45] Well, we are still in our same place in Snellville. We sit directly behind the Lowe’s off of scenic highway, so they can always find us there. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. But a phone call, I know people aren’t just getting out. So they can also give us a phone call at (678) 691-1610. And then follow us on Facebook at McKinley GA.

Karl: [00:29:18] Fabulous. Do you have anything coming up, that in the upcoming month or any, what do you have coming up for the community that you’ve made that they participate in?

Aysha: [00:29:29] Well, we are going to kick off and we will have this on our Facebook page. We’re going to kick off in October National Family History day. So the whole month of October, we’ll be surrounded around family history and learning about your family history and what you’re leaving as a legacy. And then in November, it’s National Caregivers Month. And that’s when we will have our ribbon cutting. So they can find that information on the Gwinnett Chamber website.

Karl: [00:29:59] Perfect. Perfect. Well, I want to thank you. Aysha Cooper, owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia, right behind the Lowe’s on scenic highway here in Gwinnett. And if you are interested in reaching out to her, you’ll see some of the ways to contact her on the website and the show notes for today. So I just want to thank you for sharing your journey through this. And I think you could serve as an inspiration if there was an industry that was hit hard by this, it would definitely yours. And taking the pause, which people need to do for themselves as well as to strategize. One good tip, and then really figuring out different ways to serve the community, putting a plan in place and going out there and doing it. That’s what I love about small businesses. They’re forced to be creative, to innovate quickly, fast. And they’re able to do that, and that’s why it helps drive our economy. So thank you for that and sharing today. I also want to thank our sponsor, Hargray Fiber, who continues to sponsor the family of podcasts. Rico, the podcast, that we currently have going, what do we have coming up on those.

Rico: [00:31:19] On the other podcasts? Well the Ed Hour is in, we’re looking for a guest right now to talk about COVID and the school opening. So we’re going to be scheduling something in the next few weeks on that. And how that’s working for private as well as public schools. And, for Peachtree Corners Life we have a few things in the works for that we’re going to be putting
together. But I know the Capitalist Sage has several more. We’re looking at the former owner of Noble Finn, Cliff Bramble. Also have a podcast Friday morning, actually that we were putting together with Link Dental Care, and Dr. Shyn that’s going to tell them about how the dental business took a hit pretty much during this COVID. But also on how they had to deal with work. You know, if you have it too thick, you really have to find the right dentist that can always do the right job safely for you. So yeah, a lot of good stuff.

Karl: [00:32:14] We have some marketing experts coming, joining us too later on in September, as well as working on some guests to talk to people about how to navigate their decisions around their businesses as COVID-19 is happening and everything else. So we’ll continue to do some of those really interesting things. The magazine Rico?

Rico: [00:32:40] Magazine’s out. I mean, it’s been out for a week. We had a great cover. Great story hit 19,000 plus homes, their mailboxes. So happy to be able to get that out. We are working on the next issue. So nothing ever dies here, right? The deadline continues. We’re putting out a pet issue for the next issue. But we’re also putting, so it’s going to be a pets and their people as a pullout in the magazine. We’re also looking at great backyard retreats because everyone’s sort of still stuck at home in a way they may not be traveling, but maybe your backyard is the best place to be for that time when you’re home. And we’re looking at pulling together a feature story about getting several dozen people or more, almost 50 people sharing what they’re thankful for this time of year. Even in this time of COVID-19, you know, we’re all thankful for our families, for close friends that we have. But what else are you thankful for? You know, and that’s what we’re trying to get, and we’re going to curate all that together and publish that in the next issue as well. So that’s, it’s going to be a good packed issue with a lot of stuff we’re working on. And that’ll be out the first week of October, which it seems like a long time from now, too. So I dunno, it’s going fine.

Karl: [00:34:02] And since you’re one of the hardest working with people in Peachtree Corners when you’re not putting out a magazine and when you’re not doing a podcast, what do you spend your time doing?

Rico: [00:34:13] Mighty Rockets where we produce those podcasts. We have the magazine, we do a lot of the social media product videos. A variety of things online. So digital content, producing blog posts and all that stuff. Pretty much, we find, we work with clients, see what they need. And then we put together a package that works for them. Because you know, you know how it is. Not every client needs the same toolbox or the same tool. You don’t need a hammer on everything. So we look and see what the client has and where we can help them to get further along in thier, especially in their online reach right now.

Karl: [00:34:49] Well, I definitely recommend. I said, I definitely recommend that people think about ways to market their business differently. We’ve moved to a virtual world and all of the things are evolving and getting your message out about the new things that you’re doing in your
business is really important. So figuring out how to do that and getting experts to help you with that is going to be really important.

Rico: [00:35:13] And Karl, you are the man though, that if someone’s looking for an exit plan or someone was looking to get into a new business, I mean, you’re the guy. So, you know, why don’t you tell everyone about how you work that also.

Karl: [00:35:27] Yeah, Transworld Business Advisors, where we help people with finding the businesses to buy, we help people that are in an existing business looking how to sell it the best way to do that, and more importantly, just help people planning through that. At the end of the day the best way for a business owner is to have a plan on how they want to exit, and we can help them walk them through that. We do evaluations for people. We help them consult on their business and you can reach us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Our office is in Atlanta Tech Park, so you can stop by there and chat with us. And we continue to want to serve the business community by producing and sharing these Capitalist Sage podcasts with folks so you can follow us on all of your streaming platforms, iTunes, you can follow us on Facebook, iHeartRadio. And the last thing I’ll say for today is we’re sitting here at the end of August in a few months. There’s a really important time coming up. And we just encourage everyone register to vote. It may be a little bit different this year. So if you want to request absentee ballots go on the secretary of state website and request that. A lot of the polling places will be open by now where that is. And this is a year where you should definitely participate in political process and make your voice heard. This country is going through a lot right now and every voice should be counted and we need to help support people to be able to do that, so.

Rico: [00:37:01] Or that if you’re going to be doing that mail in ballot, do it early. Don’t wait until the week before, because they ain’t going to be counted.

Karl: [00:37:08] So that’s right.

Rico: [00:37:09] Do it early on. Do it now, request that ballot now and put it out as soon as possible.

Karl: [00:37:16] Absolutely. Well, thank you everybody for joining us on the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Everyone be safe and be blessed. Take care.

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