Nadiene Raia has 20 years of hands-on, leadership experience in the ever-changing B2B and B2C advertising, marketing and publishing world.
Throughout her career, she has developed and executed creative marketing and advertising strategies, increasing awareness, engaging new customers and retaining existing clients while driving bottom-line growth.
In 2010 when Nadiene left Creative Loafing she decided it was time to grow her own company. She purchased a Money Mailer Franchise and quickly developed the product in a new Money Mailer market to household brand for both consumers and advertisers.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
The responsibilities I endured when I was younger have helped me become comfortable in a leadership role. Starting from a very young age, my life became challenging and I learned that I needed to become strong and resourceful. Growing up, my parents weren't around much as they both worked multiple jobs. I was the oldest child and had two younger sisters to care for and a household so I was responsible for. Socially I was very competitive, fearless and outspoken always up for challenges and fun. The words "no" or "can't" are not in my vocabulary. I believed that if there was a will, there was a way.
I also had a very strong intuition about things that helped me keep things in perspective. I was also an optimist and knew I needed to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles were in my way. I loved to play school or business and be the leader and I really think I was a natural born leader, although I never saw myself as a leader, just a DOER.
I look at the challenges I faced when I was younger as a positive learning experience because without those challenges, I wouldn't be the strong woman and business leader I am today.
How has your previous employment experience helped you become successful at Money Mailer?
I have nearly 20 years of experience in the B2B and B2C advertising, marketing and publishing world, so the transition process to becoming a Money Mailer franchise owner was very natural for me. In 1996, I joined Creative Loafing Media, the country's second largest alternative weekly newspaper, and took on the role of sales rep where I quickly distinguished myself as one of the top 3 reps among 5 properties and 40 account executives. From 2000-2002 I served as the Advertising director. Then from 2002-2010, I took on the role as the newspaper's publisher where I helped transform a relatively new paper into a well-regarded and financially successful media property. However, in 2010, in the midst of the recession, I had to reinvent my career and break away from Creative Loafing.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Money Mailer?
When I opened my Money Mailer franchise in 2010, my first mailing was one of the most successful first mailings the Money Mailer franchise system had seen in the past 15 years. I had 34 customers included in the mailing when the average is 15 customers for first mailings. Furthermore, in 2013, during my third year in business, I was awarded entry into Money Mailer's President's Club at Money Mailer's annual convention. This was the first year that a franchise owner that young in the system had received the award. It is always an honor to receive recognition from customers and peers in the Money Mailer franchise system.
Also, it is always rewarding to hear from small business clients that Money Mailer has helped improve their business. For example, one small business client was able to add an extra truck to his company because of all the extra appointments he was receiving due to advertising with Money Mailer. I have also worked with a business owner who owns a TCBY shop in Florida who received more than 1,000 coupon redemptions from his first mailing with Money Mailer. Finally, there is an accountant I have been working with who, because of Money Mailer, received more new clients in 2014 than the last two years combined. This year, he completed 400 tax returns and about 10-15 percent of those customers were a result of Money Mailer.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own franchise?
Don't be afraid to go for your dream. Listen to your instincts and block out the noise from the people who are attempting to bring negativity your way. You should have a plan, stay focused and be flexible.
It is important to be productive, but not perfect. There will be time to go back and evaluate what needs improvement. In the meantime, just keep moving forward. As a business owner that works with other small business owners, I have gone through many of the experiences my clients are facing. Some days you will want to throw in the towel and wonder if it's all worth it. Other days you will be the happiest person ever. Just make sure not to sweat the small stuff and keep the big picture in mind by taking small steps to get there.
Furthermore, know the value of your product as there will always be competition in your space. Why should your product or service be the choice?
Finally, know your own value. Is your time worth $100 an hour, $200 an hour, more? If so, does it really make sense to handle tasks that can be handled at a much lower cost by a freelance employee? It is important to surround yourself with a team of people who will support your decisions. Don't be afraid to delegate work to other people who can help you reach your goals.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It is not easy. Owning a business can take over your life as there is always something to work on. I feel like I could literally work around the clock. That is why I have to schedule my social life just as I do my business life. After each monthly deadline, I try to take a three or four day weekend to allow me to focus on myself.
In addition, I work out at least five times a week. Exercise is my friend as it helps keep me focused, gives me clarity to make decisions, provides me with energy to get more done in less time and helps me maintain a balanced and productive life.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
There are many issues women face in the workplace, such as unequal pay or being perceived as as bossy when they are very driven and try to be dominant in the workplace. It can be still a boys club out there in many workspaces and women need to feel like they have value to stand up and ask for what is fair in terms of voice, position and pay.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've had a lot of mini mentors, key people that believed in me and they all have impacted my career. It seemed that any time I took a new position I would almost immediately have someone at a higher level notice me and start to advance me for more responsibility and advanced positions. My work ethic, ability to overcome challenges and persevere would most often open doors that lead to a direct line with the leaders in the company. So I was always around some of the smartest people to learn from.
Previously, Ben Eason President of Creative Loafing was a long time mentor of mine. He helped guide me while allowing me the freedom to make mistakes and strengthen my confidence in my decisions. He would always tell me that I really needed to understand the value I bring and how I underestimated what I brought to the table. He let me know that it was ok to share my ideas and not be intimidated.
Currently, I have a mentor in the Money Mailer franchise system, a very successful Money Mailer veteran franchise owner of 20 plus years.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have several icon female leaders, such as Ana Wintor, Oprah Winfrey, and Barbara Walters and Adrianna Huffington, as I tend to align myself with women in media. Right now I am very interested in what Cheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayor have been doing recently to shake things up and start conversations to get women thinking about the power they have within them and to never back down. They've empowered me to go after what I want and not be shy about it. They are the type of role models I aspire to.
What do you want Money Mailer to accomplish in the next year?
My franchise will be four years old this fall. The foundation is now settled some and is no longer the house of cards that I thought would tumble down if I did not keep my eyes on it every minute. That is a really good feeling that I am enjoying at the moment. Last year I doubled the size of my franchise and this year I am in the process of increasing my mailing frequency to 12 a year; will be added in the fall and first of year. This will help me grow my core client base by increasing their redemptions and market share while growing my market share and revenue. As I am still fairly new, building my core customers will continue to be a priority. Every year I will have a plan to grow.
Why did you want to start to be a franchise owner?
I knew I was ready to be a business owner after running a profitable business for 10 years for someone else. It was time to take the risk and I felt going with a strong brand leader in the advertising space was a smart way to go and I would not have to reinvent the wheel. I knew I would get the support I needed from the franchise system. I also felt that my small business clients would be more comfortable investing their advertising dollars with a proven franchise.