Holly Howard

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Holly Howard

Holly Howard is the founder of Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company focused on helping creative people turn their passion into profit. She is also the host of a monthly small business book club at McNally Jackson. When she's not helping small business owners build their businesses, she's typically contemplating how she can live out her life on a yacht, drinking champagne.

11/04/14 2:00pm

Small business consultant Holly Howard has helped over 30 businesses and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn to map out their vision and achieve their goals.

Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books.

Dear Holly,

I’m a stylist who’s a partner in an up and coming fashion label.  We’ve had some moderate success and the future looks bright.  I’m having somewhat of a problem when it comes to customer service and complaints.  My partner and I tend to have differing attitudes about how requests and feedback should be handled.  I tend to be overly accommodating and go with the old motto “the customer is always right”, while my partner tends to pull more of an attitude with them and disregard their complaints.   

Do you have any advice on best practices when it comes to customer service?  I’m sure it’s not a one size fits all across every industry, but we have to come to an agreement on how we handle these things or else we’re going to lose our following.   (more…)

10/23/14 2:35pm
Samuel L. Jackson's body language is WAY too aggressive for a good negotiation.

Negotiating with Samuel L. Jackson’s is no picnic.

Dear Holly,

I own a small construction company here in Brooklyn. I often sub contract services so I’m constantly negotiating and managing contracts.

I can honestly say that I hate to negotiate, and that it’s probably the most challenging part of my job.

Do you have any advice on how I can become a better negotiator? I know that this piece of running my business is not going away, and I’d like to improve it so that it doesn’t feel like such a burden.

Thank you,

Non-Negotiator
(more…)

09/24/14 5:00pm

Red Hook Winery

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from Red Hook Winery. 

Hi Holly,

This hasn’t happened recently, but it has happened in the past, and I think it is a growing problem/concern with businesses…the dreaded Yelp review!

As a small business owner, the reviews often feel out of balance or focused on things that can’t always be controlled.  I hear lately how small businesses struggle with this topic.  It seems like consumers tend to write reviews when things are negative, and often they focus on bizarre parts of the experience. There are frequent tangents that may be off base or even just one side of the story.  

Any ideas on how to better address how to deal with Yelp reviews? (more…)

09/18/14 2:00pm

rothreview4Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from the owners of Sunny’s.

Dear Holly,

What are the best sources where I can look for employees? I have people recommended to me all the time, which is good, but I feel I need to broaden my horizon a little and look for people that can meet a specific need for my business. I have only hired one person through an interview. I’m not sure about craigslist because I feel like I’m not sure what I would get. I also do not want to be overburdened with applicants. What is in between craigslist and friend recommendations, and what is a reasonable number of applications that I should review? (more…)

09/11/14 1:33pm

599461_383773011685728_1995640762_nHolly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from the owners of The Good Fork.

Dear Holly,

We’re working on our marketing strategy and trying to refine the tactics we use.  Part of our strategy includes sending out email newsletters.  Our question to you is how often should a restaurant send out an e-mail blast to its list?  We want to stay in people’s minds but we don’t want to pester them!   (more…)

08/22/14 1:27pm
Photo: Fort Defiance

Photo: Fort Defiance

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week, she fields a question from the owner of Fort Defiance, St. John Frizell.

Dear Holly,

If servers at my restaurant want to get one or more of their shifts covered, there’s a very simple procedure—they simply have to find someone to cover their shift, and email the general manager.  This has worked great until this summer, when several of my servers went away at the same time.  Even though they had found other servers to cover their shifts, unforeseen but inevitable events left me shorthanded.  I can’t let the same thing happen over the holidays.  Is there a better way to handle this—one that still allows my servers to be flexible while protecting the best interests of the business?

Best,

St. John, owner, Fort Defiance (more…)

08/14/14 3:06pm

photo (4) (1)

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.  Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week, she fields a question from the owners of Home/Made.

Dear Holly,

We have built our business with all of our own resources, and credit, not even a family loan. So, while we know a bit about running our business, we know nothing about partners and investors, and smart ways to structure those relationships, beyond the extreme things we see on TV, like “Shark Tank”!

We realize to grow, or to take on some of the projects we’d like to undertake, we need to consider bringing in funds from another source.

While we know every deal is different, we’d love some advice on standard relationships between “Partners” or “Investors”, and the differences between the two!

Does an investor get paid back, or do they just purchase a percent of the business, for better or worse? Splain us Lucy! How does it work??? (more…)

07/25/14 10:08am
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The owners of Red Hook Winery face a dilemma–accommodate customers who arrive at the winery after closing, or kindly ask that they return when they’re open. Photo: Red Hook Winery

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.  Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week, she fields a question from the owners of Red Hook Winery.

Hi Holly!

With Red Hook in general and the winery specifically “off the beaten path,” we face many exploring customers in the area.  While we are closing up shop, we often have customers who show up and approach us about coming inside because they’ve made such a long trek to get here and didn’t realize we were closed.

We feel awful turning them away, as we appreciate both the interest and the trek they’ve made to get here, but we also struggle with reopening the store after we have closed.

What’s the best thing to say/do to have customers leave happy and not frustrated?

Thanks!

Sandra and Mark
Red Hook Winery (more…)

07/17/14 1:29pm
Kevin, setting up at Little Eva's on Governor's Island. Photo: @kevinsRedHook via Twitter

Kevin, setting up at Little Eva’s on Governor’s Island. Photo: @kevinsRedHook via Twitter

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.  Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well.

Hi Holly,

As we have described to you, Kevin and I knew this summer was going to be our busiest
season with two restaurants open simultaneously and parties being booked and planned. In addition to the Red Hook schedule, we’ve added Thursdays and Fridays to Little Eva’s Governors Island’s weekend schedule.

Honestly, there are improvements we want to make to our business. We recognize the need to articulate a solid vision statement for the future. Kevin and I agree on where we want to take it, but we haven’t always been good at sharing with our customers and staff a picture of who we are and where we’re going. Also, we’ve talked about clarifying the scope of the catering, perhaps hire a manager for just that piece. We thought these fixes could be tackled after Little Eva’s closes for the winter season, the wedding season ends, and we’re tucked into Red Hook for the holidays. (more…)

07/09/14 2:00pm
A Roquette-catered wedding at The Foundery in Long Island City. Photo: Roquette

A scene from a Roquette-catered wedding at The Foundery in Long Island City. Photo: Roquette

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red Hook, New York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.  Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well.

Dear Holly,

My partner and I own a small restaurant and catering business in Red Hook.

In many ways since Sandy we are starting over again, almost from the beginning!

We are looking at what we do, and why, and we realize there are many things we could improve upon and do better for ourselves and our customers.

One area we are examining is the pricing of our catering services.

We know to factor in cost of product, and our time, but what we aren’t including is the more intangible value added factors: creativity / design/ skill….

People come to us because we will create a unique and special event, beautifully designed and curated.  So how do we define, and then quantify and price the thing that people are really hiring us for???

I know what we do is special and distinct, but because it is so personal, it becomes hard to honestly value and price ourselves appropriately.  Because of the extra creative effort and time we expend to accomplish this, we often end up overextending ourselves, and feeling frustrated and unappreciated.

It’s a gray area that a lot of creative people struggle with, so we’ve never found a “formula” per se to use. We’d love your advice about how to approach pricing so that it’s not just a made up number that changes regularly depending on our confidence level, and who the customer is!

(more…)