Meet Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, Partner – ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba
Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is)
ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba provides disaster restoration and cleaning services to home and business owners in Chicago and the suburbs. Our clients include property managers, condo associations, insurance companies, restaurant owners, and retail managers. We specialize in water damage restoration, flood restoration, fire damage cleanup, and mold removal.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner means that I’m in a position to help other people. I always wanted to run my own company, but I didn’t think about personal financial success. Instead, I thought, “I want to help my parents when they get older.” This all happened during the 2008 recession.
I wanted to make a difference, but I was stuck in a nine-to-five job. My employer valued my abilities, but there wasn’t any room to advance professionally. I wanted to grow and help others grow too. I’ve always wanted to be a coach and leader, but my previous job just didn’t give me the freedom I needed. That’s what eventually inspired me to become a business owner.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My parents came here from Mexico. My dad owned a restaurant, and he was really driven. He taught us important financial skills. I developed a strong work ethic and learned how to save money. My dad also taught me about the real estate business, and I made my first investment when I was 18. Sadly, his business eventually failed. Seeing how hard that was for him became a big part of my motivation to be successful. I wanted to take care of my family.
As I started my own company, I was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor. When I had an idea, she encouraged me to pursue it. If I faced a problem, she walked me through it. She was always supportive and constructive. She passed away recently, and I miss her very much. Everyone who wants to make it on their own should have someone they can trust for real-world experience and good advice.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment was becoming a business owner at 25 in the middle of a recession. My company is still going strong. I’m also proud to say that I’ve developed into an effective leader and coach. When I run into people who’ve worked for me in the past, they tell me that I’ve made a real difference and helped them professionally.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
The best advice I’ve ever had centers around faith. You have to keep your faith because it gets you through anything. Sometimes, you just need to surrender and accept that you’re doing the best you can. No one else can do it like you. It’s really okay to fail. You just get back up again and try harder. You don’t need to be perfect.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Digital marketing initiatives are great. They’ve been very effective for my company, and social media is important too. I attended Crain’s Leadership Academy in Chicago, and that’s allowed me to network with like-minded individuals. I enjoy mingling and connecting with other business owners.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Be humble. You can’t have too much pride. It’s important to be humble because pride gets in the way of a lot of things – making sound decisions, dealing with clients, staff and contractors – when you’re in an industry like mine. Our clients expect to be treated with compassion and care.
So often, we come across very difficult situations like completely flooded homes that need water damage services. You have to feel real compassion in order to deal with these situations. When you reach a certain level of success, you need to be driven by the person you are and not by the money you’re making.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available).
Of course, WE Magazine for Women is always an excellent resource for women who take on the challenges of running their own company. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program has also been a tremendous help. It gave me a great starting point. The program enabled me to structure my company and refine my business growth plan. Lastly, the National Association of Women Business Owners is an outstanding organization with a great community of women who help each other.
Do you have any new projects coming up ?If so, please tell us about it.
We’re just about to open up a second office and headquarters for ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. Our newest ServiceMaster location in Skokie, IL, is a huge milestone for us. The expansion is happening right at our five-year mark. It’s so wonderful to have accomplished so much and enjoyed such success over the last five years.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I treat myself to spa days. I go all by myself and just spend a few hours enjoying some “alone” time. It’s really therapeutic and gives me a chance to reflect and refocus. I also go out with friends at least twice a month. My husband and I love to take the kids to the movies, so that’s our favorite thing to do for family fun.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Come 2017, I plan on hiring more people so that I can continue to grow my business and still delegate more than I do right now. I hope to develop an internal staff so that I can focus on the bigger picture and not be so operationally involved. I’m currently in the process of certifying my company as a Woman-Owned Small Business. That’s always been an important goal for me.
You want to write a book on ….
I’d like to write a book on how to run a business with your husband. A husband-and-wife partnership is great if you can make it work, and we do. I’d write about defining roles and combining skills and strengths. I’d include a section on how to raise a family while running a business. It would be great if it gets turned into an audio book.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
As a woman business owner, I’m in a unique position because my company operates in a male-dominated field. I’m so encouraged to see the progress that we’re making. It’s my hope that every woman who starts up her own business can benefit from the experiences and collective wisdom that we all share in online platforms like WE Magazine for Women.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you (feel free to include the links to your social networks and websites)?
The best way to reach me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org