Mary Roszel – Co-Founder and VP, Biggby Coffee

Mary Roszel

The Miracle Worker: At least one entrepreneur is making money these days. Find out how she did it – so you can do it too.

By Taylor Mallory

‘Tis the season to be worried about going out of business. But the holidays are happy for at least one entrepreneur. Her company had a record year in 2008. Revenue is up 37 percent, October saw the highest sales in the company’s 12-year history, and they’ve added 22 locations this year alone. Her secret? “Focus, focus, focus on customer service,” says Mary Roszel, co-founder and vice president of store developments for the franchise company Biggby Coffee “It’s all about creating an inviting experience for the customer.” Today the company has more than 100 locations in nine states and another 75 under contract to open over the next two years.

Roszel, who raised two children by herself while working, getting two college degrees and starting her company, shares her company’s success secrets.

PINK: What is the biggest challenge you’re dealing with right now?
Mary Roszel: People perceive that the economy will negatively affect their business and finances. In difficult times like these, you concentrate on making sure that your customers are getting the best possible service. The key is to reinforce your values and marketing. There’s no point in standing in the back room wringing your hands. Get out there and talk to people. Find out what your customers want.

PINK: You went to school, worked and raised two children on your own. How did you balance all that?
M.R.: I’ve had a lot of support. I didn’t have any money when I moved to Lansing [Mich.] to get my paralegal degree. I was standing at the bus stop with 10 cents to my name when one of my instructors pulled up and asked if I needed a ride. I told him I was trying to find a job. He asked if I typed. I said yes, which I would have said even if I couldn’t. I started working for him at the Michigan Supreme Court part time, got my degree, worked my way up and was there for 13 years. Neighbors would help with the kids until I got home from work at 5:30. Now I reach out and help other women like people have helped me. I provide some scholarships to single parents and contribute to the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, a support group for women looking for employment.

PINK: What’s your best advice for other professional women?
M.R.: Take risks. If you try something and it doesn’t work, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You have to get another job. People who are afraid to take risks are never going to own their own company. That’s OK. That’s just not me.

I also make sure I have a lot of personal time to myself. I don’t need to take home a bag of things to do every night or on the weekend. You need to refresh yourself, get exercise, get out and help in the community. Take care of yourself. If your health is gone, you’re not going to help yourself or others.

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