LaChena Clark loves being in business. So much so she has started several companies. She owns two locations of laundry and dry cleaning service Sudsy Waters, that picks up and delivers. She is also part-owner of the location in White Plains. Now, her latest venture is Mia’s Bathhouse for Pets, located in Central Harlem. It features self-service, coin/card operated Evolution Self Serve Dog Wash Machines that customers can use to wash their pets.
“November 15 was our grand opening for Mia’s. Our family dog Mia passed away in December of 2013. Since that time, we thought of ways to honor her legacy and keep in line with our business model,” says Clark. “We believe service businesses that individuals need and require should have personalized customer service and outstanding experiences. Mia’s is a self-serve pet wash. We utilize the most current technology and equipment to give consumers what they require. The pet care/service is a $5 billion dollar a year industry. We believe we have created a niche product/service that is missing in Upper Manhattan.”
According to Clark, her newest businesses are complimentary to her other firms. “Both of our dry cleaning locations are located in Central Harlem. 2394 7th Avenue is our first location and 247 West 145th Street is our second location. We own self-serve laundry locations in White Plains, Bronx and Harlem,” she explains. “Because of the laundry business, we ventured into dry cleaning to compliment the laundry business. We offer pick up and delivery service for both laundry and dry cleaning. Our laundry and dry cleaning service is the only Harlem area business with a website, email connectivity and text messaging ability. We utilize social media to create business partnerships with our customers and to help understand their needs.”
Still, it would seem to be a heavy load to carry. But Clark says it’s all in the approach. “Juggling several businesses takes dedication, determination and drive. I have learned to become a better listener. Taking time to hear customer praises or complaints and listening to employee input makes the challenge a little smoother,” she explains. “I no longer think of bad experiences as a negative but as valuable lessons on how to grow and improve my business. Each experience has helped me grow and, in turn, teach my employees how to raise the bar and improve our customer relations.”
She has also created a process that helps keep things in order. “Owning multiple businesses is a challenge. As I said previously, juggling takes drive. You have to organize your time and stick to your plans. A daily tasks list works for me. Also, your team around you is very important. My late father, sister, cousins and friends jump into the mix when necessary. Honestly, without them my growth would have been a lot slower,” says Clark, who was recently named president of the Bradhurst Merchant’s Association (BMA), an organization of businesses in the Bradhurst area of Harlem.
“My role as president of the BMA has been to develop goals for the membership, plan fundraising activities, and seek new members. One of my most important goals is to help our membership market brand themselves. We also partner with area organizations that help to improve the area and support area business growth and opportunity such as the Harlem Business Alliance,” notes Clark.
According to Clark, small businesses should consider becoming part of their local business association. “Joining an association like Bradhurst Merchants Association is very important for small businesses. We meet monthly and bring topics that help improve your business and exchange information. Learning from others’ successes and failures is the easiest way to improve your own business,” she says. “At Bradhurst, we share topics like sanitation compliance, Con Edison’s green program information or how to create a Facebook profile for a business. Not only is the information from such organizations valuable, but you have a team to advocate for your business. For instance, one of our members who is a caterer receives all of the membership jobs as well as the referral if others ask for a caterer.”
Clark also believes in community service. Clark’s personal business mantra: I always say “we/or” because I believe in the collective. ?My business is a success because of my efforts and the help of others.