How our lives changed 

The Bar and Stool Shoppe
842 18 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hodgson Funeral Home
608 20 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Hughes Tire & Battery
120 E 1 Ave
Milan, IL 61264

IH Missiissippi Valley Credit Union
4206 5th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Illini Hospital
801 Hospital Rd
Silvis, IL 61282

Jerry's Market
1609 17 St
Moline, IL 61265

L & W Bedding
1211 16 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Southeast National Bank
3535 23rd Ave
Moline, IL 61265

State Bank of Orion
1114 4th St
Orion, IL 61273

3900 26 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

United Way of the Quad Cities Area
3247 E 35 St Ct
Davenport, IA 52807
355-4310 Bornhoeft Heating & Air Conditioning
620 15 Ave
East Moline, IL 61244

Dans Automotive
1504 16 St
East Moline, IL 61244

Derbytech Computer Works
700 16 Ave
East Moline, IL 61244

Achor Do-It Center
1505 1 Ave
Silvis, IL 61282

Bobb Chiropractic Center
813 1 Ave
Silvis, IL 61282

Ricks Lawn & Garden
1844 42 Ave
East Moline, IL 61244

Amador Chiropractic
924 1 St
Silvis, IL 61282

Customer service? Some people take it personally

By Pam Berenger, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

A long chat in their mother's bathroom turned five sisters into entrepreneurs.

``We were cleaning our mother's bathroom, each of us talking about our jobs and how we were looking for something else to do,'' Darla Jackson said. ``One of us said, `we could do this.'

``We sat there laughing and talking for an hour and a half about it. Then we called a family meeting. Our parents are entrepreneurs. I guess we get it from them.''

It was that simple, according to Mrs. Jackson, who along with her sisters, Cindy Ward, Lisa Frazelle, Tracy Corwin and Kim Corwin, created Maid Four You 2 1/2 years ago. They had just one regret: that they hadn't done it sooner.

It took them a month of planning to start. One sister printed fliers, which they passed door to door. The calls started coming in.

By the end of their first month, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Frazelle and Tracy Corwin decided they could afford to quit their other jobs. Mrs. Jackson had worked at her job 17 years, Mrs. Frazelle at hers 14 years, and Ms. Corwin had been at her job 10 years.

``I was worried,'' Mrs. Frazelle said. ``But I'm a risk-taker, and I believe that if you have a good plan, it will work.''

Owning their own business is something many people think about and a growing number end up doing. Most of those businesses are service-oriented -- cleaning, health care, temporary agencies, limousines, catering, and computer services.

Tom Austin, labor-market analyst with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said the service sector grew 30 percent from 1990 to 1998, compared to just 1.2 percent growth in manufacturing.

Those who do make the jump from employee to self-employed extol the benefits -- being their own boss and setting their own hours. However, it takes planning, Mrs. Frazelle said.

Connie and Joe Santarelli, who opened a Mail Boxes Etc. outlet, took time to explore their options before deciding on a franchise rather than a ``mom and pop'' operation. Mail Boxes Etc. was consistently in the top 10 of rated franchises, she said.

The couple visited different locations and surveyed businesses before making its final decision. ``It had to be something we could both live with,'' said Mrs. Santarelli.

She was unemployed at the time; her job was eliminated in the merger of United and Franciscan medical centers to create Trinity Medical Center. Mr. Santarelli had a job but was ready to move on to something else.

``Everyone thinks about owning their own business,'' Mrs. Santarelli said. ``But very few are so unique that it will draw people in. It's bonding with the customer that keeps them coming back. You can't expect that they will come back regardless of how you are.''

Service is success, the small-business owners said. Whether it's a massage, a laundry, or sending a package, if the customer isn't satisfied, there's no business.

The Santarellis call it ``front-line service'' -- meeting customers by the time they've taken two steps into the room. Their personalized service also extends to wrestling with customers' heavy or awkward packages in the parking lot, and greeting them at the car with umbrellas.

Mrs. Frazelle said she and her sisters call it a partnership between Maid Four You and their clients. ``They get to where they depend on you. We do what we say we're going to do. Service is a high priority.''

The service economy has been good for the Quad-Cities, not only stabilizing an economy hurt by manufacturing cuts in the 1980s, but helping it grow. According to figures provided by Bi-State Regional Commission, from 1990 to 1996, retail sales went up about 20 percent.

Making dreams into reality isn't only a matter of saying ``I'm going to do it.'' There is help available through the Small Business Administration, which has a variety of loans available and tips on getting started. Much of the information is available on the Internet at

Locally, the Service Corps of Retired Executives -- SCORE -- is available to help develop a business plan, cash-flow analysis and much more.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.