A long-time Arlington technology firm has a new solution for those times when you can’t decide where to have dinner — or get your nails done or have a prescription refilled or find unique gifts, among other activities that require decisiveness.
Ouli is a free app that helps narrow your selection to three nearby, viable choices that become more refined to your needs and tastes the more you use it.
“Ouli is a mobile concierge in the palm of your hand,” said Pierre Malko, CEO of Dante Inc., the Arlington-based software company that’s been building technological innovation since 1998. “It reduces the time spent to have a great experience.”
Malko got the idea for Ouli after being frustrated by the limitations of existing consumer-feedback based services. “You may find good reviews and have everyone agree on trying a restaurant, for example, but you’ve wasted your time because it’s booked or not available, and in the end you are disappointed,” he said. “The search function doesn’t know what your intent is — an anniversary, a birthday, happy hour? They are devoid of context as to what you want to do.”
With Ouli, released in January, you quickly fill in a checklist of when, where and what it is you want to do — and why. The why is a key factor in the Ouli difference.
And when you make your choice, in the future, Ouli will book it for you.
When a customer accepts an Ouli offer, at that point the merchant is charged a small fee, which is why local merchants are eager to sign on. Ouli increases foot traffic and automates customer engagement for the merchant.
At the moment Ouli has some 100 Arlington merchants in the database (expansion to other regions, as well as even more functionality, will come in the near future.)
In addition, Ouli has a handy option that uses your location to offer reduced prices and specials to users as they walk by a member merchant.
“Ouli has two ways of engagement,” Malko said. In addition to “learning” your wants and needs with your data input, Ouli also takes initiative to inform you of deals at favored merchants when you least expect it.
“When you walk by establishments of interest to you, you may be notified of special deals. But the notifications are made only if they are pertinent to you — you are not bombarded with notifications that may not be of use.”
Ouli can be downloaded here for immediate use.
This is a sponsored business profile written for ARLnow.com by Buzz McClain.
Rarely have the words “orthodontist” and “fun” been used side by side, but the newest orthodontist in Arlington specializes in more than just fixing smiles, she creates them.
Which explains the monkeys in the office suite.
“We have a really fun atmosphere,” said Dr. Crissy Markova from her office at Virginia Center for Orthodontics at 1600 Wilson Blvd., near both Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. “Our patients travel to us from all over the United States and the world–they’re always coming and going–so we give them our office mascot, a stuffed monkey named Bob, that they can take to travel with them.”
Don’t think the monkeys are just to keep kids smiling: Grownup patients getting Invisalign have been known to adopt them as well.
You would think monkeys and lively music in the waiting room would be enough to set a business apart, but Dr. Markova, who opened the practice just last June, said “the biggest differentiating factor from other practices is that we are really convenient. We’re here up until 7 o’clock at night to be really accommodating. When a practice closes at 4:30 or 5, you have to take off work or school, and we want to help avoid that.”
After completing her Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Markova, a Michigan native, relocated to Northern Virginia when she was a resident at Washington Hospital Center and, as a resident team leader, at Children’s National Medical Center Cleft Lip and Palate Craniofacial Clinic.
“I discovered I really loved the area,” she said, and that’s when she decided to hang her shingle in Arlington, with high-rise views of the city and Georgetown across the river. It took a year-and-a-half to build a state-of-the-art the office from the ground up–“with all the bells and whistles,” she said. “There is nothing in the field of orthodontics that we don’t have in the office.”
Her favorite new gadget, if you can even call something this high-tech a gadget, is a 3D scanner that eliminates the need to make uncomfortable impressions or molds of teeth. “We can do 3D modeling of anybody’s teeth,” she said. “And I get to geek out on the 3D scanner.” And this comes from someone who owns two patents for orthodontic bracket designs.
Besides stuffed monkeys and cutting-edge technology, Markova prides her practice on community involvement. “It’s a really big focus for us,” she said. The Arlington Soccer Association, Discovery Elementary, Gunston Career Day, Girls on the Run, and Arlington Little League are some of the events and organizations she’s supported.
The practice accommodates an expanded list of insurance carriers as well as a zero-percent financing plan for braces and Invisalign. Find Dr. Crissy Markova’s Virginia Center for Orthodontics on Facebook, on the web or by calling 703-774-3070.
The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.
1600 Wilson Blvd, Ste. 101
Arlington, VA 22209
It didn’t take long after the merger of two high-profile Realty firms into one powerhouse brokerage to become a dominating force in regional — particularly Arlington — real estate.
Last year Rosslyn-based Optimé Realty sold more volume in Northern Virginia — more than $220 million — than any other realty team combined, says Dan Lesniak, founder of Orange Line Living. That accounts for 369 homes bought and sold in the market with the Keri Shull Team, headed by prominent realtor Shull.
About two-thirds of those transactions were in Arlington, he says.
The success of the firm, Lesniak says, stems from strength of the experience of the dual leadership of “combined teams that were young and growing, and we added to that.”
Optimé Realty, he says, optimizes on the proven systems and entrepreneurial ideas that he and Shull shared. The success stories — of which there are many — are the result of “a combination of innovative marketing, great people and hard work.”
Says Shull, “Our team does an excellent job of anticipating the needs of both buyers and sellers and thinking way outside the box to solve their problems, often before they even experience them.”
Innovations in marketing also can’t be overlooked, particularly the risk reversal program that assures home buyers that their existing home will be sold. New construction of more spacious, feature-rich homes replacing existing older dwellings also account for many of Optimé’s sales, for homeowners and construction firms. “We span the whole range, really,” Lesniak says.
Opitmé also works to find properties in advance of their market placement so clients have an inside track when it comes to beating the listing.
The two firms have a combined staff of 36, with three new hires in the last month. At the forefront of the brokerage are two standouts, Amy Harasz, the 2015 top sales person, and Elizabeth Rea Landeros, the top-listing agent last year.
They and the other representatives of the company have mastered the quirks and trademarks of Arlington real estate. For buyers, Lesniak says, “things can be more challenging because the inventory is pretty low. But it helps to be educated on different neighborhoods, be specific on what you want and make sure you have your paperwork into the leader and are pre-approved.”
This is key, he says, because in Arlington’s fast-paced market, “things do come up with competing buyers, so you want to be able to close quickly so there are no surprises.”
As for sellers, Arlington is famous as a “sellers’ market” where the buyers have to do the cutthroat dirty work to outbid the other party. Still, Lesniak says, “sellers need to get the house in its best shape and properly stage. We’ve seen similar homes go on the market at the same time, and the one that gets sold or gets the best price is the one with the best presentation.”
The preceding was a sponsored local business profile written by Buzz McClain for ARLnow.com.
Atlas Home Inspection
A home inspector needs to be knowledgeable in everything between the foundation of a house and the roof. They need to be willing to cram into creepy, dark crawl spaces looking for compromising cracks, and they often need to climb onto dangerously high roofs to check chimney masonry at the topmost point, something many home inspectors decline to do.
Ed Snope, the sole proprietor of Arlington’s Atlas Home Inspection, has been doing all those things, and everything in between, for three years. His business is the culmination of more than 30 years in all aspects of home building, beginning when he was a teenager learning the fine points of landscape construction with a contractor.
“We built retaining walls, decks, patios, that sort of thing,” Snope says. “I learned about grading and how to control water flow outside of a home, which is one of the most important issues I deal with as an inspector.”
Snope says his skills and interest in home construction “always led from one thing to another. People would ask, ‘Can you fix this?,’ and that led to home repairs.” The handyman career led to high-end house painting–which requires more knowledge and skill, not to mention effort, than most house painting–and that led to historic restoration, which found Snope expanding his knowledge about wood preservation and historically accurate construction methods.
Once he bought his own 1930s Cape Colonial in North Arlington, Snope spent his time restoring his own home, after which he decided to give home inspection a try. “It’s a good way to wrap up all my experience in one package,” he says.
His reputation has spread among Northern Virginia Realtors — the primary source of referrals for most home inspectors–rapidly, and after his first year his business doubled. “Things are going in the right direction,” he says.
First-time home buyers — and that includes those of cozy condos as well as vast McMansions — can be forgiven if they’re not sure what a home inspection entails, or why to even bother with one.
In short, once you make an offer on a house, the buyer needs to be certain there are no structural surprises to deal with once the sale closes. A home inspection report will detail everything the buyer needs to know about the house’s and the appliances’ deficiencies and strengths. If a problem is significant, the buyer may be able to negotiate with the seller to repair it or pay for the repair before closing.
“You will know by the end of an inspection if you want to proceed [with the purchase],” Snope said. “Most of the time I recommend the buyer ask for some money off as opposed to having the seller fix things. They might do it on the cheap and it may still need to be fixed by the buyer later.”
Snope also instructs the buyer on how to operate the house — “I show them shut-off valves, safety disconnects, how to operate the equipment” — as well as pointing out major or minor defects. “I’m looking for safety issues, proper installation and energy efficiency,” he says.
The one thing he hears from his clients more than others, he says, “is that I’m a lot more thorough than people expected. If you see my reviews [on Angie’s List, Yelp and elsewhere] you always see the word ‘thorough.'”
Osteria da Nino
2900 S. Quincy Street (Shirlington area)
“Old-world charm” is one way to describe Osteria da Nino in Shirlington.
But that’s not commentary on the interior of the Shirlington restaurant, which is clean and modern. Rather, it’s a reflection of the personalized service you get from owner and Sicily native Nino Pino.
Arrive at Osteria da Nino for lunch or dinner and most of the time it will be Nino warmly greeting you at the door. If he’s met you before, he’ll ask about your kids, your dog, your house. He remembers those things.
Nino greets customers, supervises the staff and makes sure your meal has met or exceeded your expectations. But those expectations are getting higher with each Yelp review.
For an unassuming Italian restaurant tucked away outside Shirlington’s main drag, Osteria da Nino has attracted plenty of attention from Yelp users. The restaurant currently has a 4.5 star average, from 107 reviews. Most of the reviews laud the authenticity and rich flavor of the food, along with the personal service.
Nino grew up in Italy and started his first restaurant, a pizzeria called Il Papiro, at the age of 18. After working as a waiter on Royal Caribbean cruise ships in the ’70s, he came to the U.S. and settled in Northern Virginia about 30 years ago, continuing to work in the hospitality business. He’s managed numerous well-regarded restaurants in the area, including Primi Piatti and the former Fellini in D.C., Palio in Leesburg, Zeffirelli in Herndon and, most recently, Zibbibo 73 in Stafford.
It was at Zeffirelli that Nino first met Jim and Margaret Manchisi, natives of Queens, New York, who loved the experience at Nino’s restaurants. Jim’s grandparents, it turns out, are also from Italy – a small town in the Southeast called Bari. The Pino’s and Manchisi’s became great friends.and that friendship would become a business partnership, helping to fulfill Nino’s dream of opening his own neighborhood restaurant. Osteria da Nino started serving customers on April 3, 2015.
With his namesake restaurant, Nino has focused on freshness. Freshly-made pasta, fresh fish, fresh oysters, fresh sauces like his mother, Agatina, used to make in the picturesque town of Letojanni, Sicily, just outside of Taormina. It’s the freshness that stands out, helping to earn Osteria da Nino its stellar online reviews.
On the evening ARLnow.com stopped by, Nino had just been beckoned to the bar. Two customers wanted to talk to him.
“I was just going over the menu and I’m like, oh my God, there are all my favorite foods,” said Brandy Schantz. She and her husband, who live in Rosslyn, had first met Nino when he worked at Palio, and were pleasantly surprised to find out he had opened a restaurant in Arlington.
Not only is Osteria da Nino a neighborhood restaurant, it’s truly a family restaurant. Nino’s wife, Joginder, works as an accountant but helps out at the restaurant on weekends. She usually helps with the “front of the house” — greeting customers — but she’ll go into the kitchen and whip up a mean lasagna or tiramisu, if needed.
One thing that’s unusual about Osteria da Nino is something it lacks: a general manager. A common position at other restaurants, Nino says he doesn’t believe in it, at least not for a restaurant this size. The owner should be willing to do anything a general manager would do, especially when it comes to ensuring that customers are happy.
After decades in the local restaurant industry, Nino has seen plenty of things change. Fellini, for instance, used to turn into a jacket-and-tie-required nightclub in the 90s. But then again, some things never change.
“The basics are the same,” Nino said. “My secret has been welcoming people and helping them personally.”
The preceding was a sponsored profle written by ARLnow.com.
2350 Clarendon Boulevard
When Fire Works opened its first urban location, in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington, the owners thought it would be best to start from scratch, to create a space to suit the needs of both the restaurant and the community it’s in.
Fire Works was built from the ground up, taking the same ideas of the wood fired pizza restaurant’s successful Leesburg location, and going bigger, upscale and trendier. The construction included bars inside and out, a huge patio and glass windows.
To take on this project, the owners of Fire Works hired Jon Hoffmeyer. He’s been in the business for 25 years, but this was the first time he took a restaurant from conception to operation.
Hoffmeyer worked with engineers and the restaurant owners. He says because the restaurant is family-owned, he got more autonomy than he would have with a corporate owner.
“I took it from a shell,” Hoffmeyer said. “It’s been rewarding actually, because it was something I hadn’t done in that scope before, and got to go from the ground up.”
Once construction was completed, Hoffmeyer hired and trained the staff, and opened Fire Works in August 2010. Training is very important to Hoffmeyer, because in his philosophy, the staff come first.
“First and foremost staff is well trained and equipped, and they can take that to the guests,” Hoffmeyer said.
When employees are well-trained, they can take a positive attitude and transfer that to guests, he says. When the focus is only on the guests of restaurants, staff members don’t love to work there — and it shows.
The restaurant business tends to be transient, but Hoffmeyer has been pleased at how many staff stick around. He says some bartenders and servers have been there since day one, and a good portion of the kitchen staff.
“It’s a fun place and a good place to work and people can make a living at doing it,” Hoffmeyer said.
The pizza at Fire Works is very good, but is not the sole reason people come back, Hoffmeyer says. With music on and a crowd inside and out on the patio, the atmosphere is lively. It’s the energy, he says, that really sets Fire Works apart.
Something that makes Fire Works fit into the Northern Virginia restaurant landscape is its interest in finding locally-sourced foods.
It’s something that has become popular in recent years, but Hoffmeyer says “farm-to-fork” eating has been a priority of the owners since before the idea was trendy.
The standards for farm-to-fork mean it’s harder to make it work from the Arlington location — the meat comes from about 100 miles away, for example. In Loudon County, where the owners’ other restaurant locations are, it’s easier to get local foods.
Fire Works has now been in Arlington for more than five years. Hoffmeyer appreciates how businesses in Arlington look out for each other. He says the mix of business and residential spaces nearby make for an interesting balance.
He says Fire Works gets a chance to interact with that community, partially because of the glass walls of the building. When there’s light coming inside, guests can see out and pedestrians can see in. Because of that, he says the dining area isn’t removed from the outside world, and it feels like part of Arlington.
The preceding was a sponsored profile written by Eleanor Greene for ARLnow.com.
You may have heard the Sagatov name around Arlington, especially if you’re house shopping. It graces signs in front of new homes and work trucks traversing local streets.
The man behind the name is Lou Sagatov, but he’s no longer in charge of his eponymous design-build business. Lou passed the business to his son and has started a new career as a real estate agent.
Lou, who also has a daughter-in-law who works in real estate, is proud of his family business. He’s also proud to treat his clients like family.
“One of the things that I offer personalized service to people. I’m not trying to capture the whole world, I just like working on a one to one basis with people and helping them reach their goals,” Sagatov said. “I’d rather work with less people and have a full relationship than try to be so stretched out that I can’t fully service the people I’m dealing with.”
That philosophy for real estate clients is influenced by Sagatov’s 28 years of previous experience in design-build.
When he works with a seller, he uses market analysis to help him determine the current value of the home. Then he helps the owners figure out if they need to make any improvements to maximize its value on the market.
“We do whatever makes the most sense so they can sell their house to meet their goals,” Sagatov said.
After that, he manages the marketing, using online promotion and open houses to help sell the homes.
With buyers, it’s important to set priorities, whether it’s to find a home that’s perfect today or finding a property that buyers can expand or renovate, Sagatov says.
Sagatov says what keeps his clients coming back and referrals rolling in is his transparency and personalized service.
There are challenges in working real estate, Sagatov says. He’s used to dealing with them, because they’re similar to those he’s faced before. It’s about communicating with clients and helping clients get what they want out of the experience.
“I’m working with a builder right now, there are a lot of new builders on the market, how do we get his product sold in a competitive market?” Sagatov said. “For clients, it’s how do we find the right home for them that will allow them to end up with what their dream is? For sellers, it’s how do we sell the house quickly so they maximize their net profit?”
From speaking with him, it’s clear Sagatov puts a great deal of thought into his interactions with clients, as he does with his family.
“I try to figure out how can I support my son and my brother and my daughter-in-law,” Sagatov said. “How do I support them in their business and help them achieve what they want to do too.”
The family is based in Northern Virginia, an area Sagatov has called home for decades. Whether working with a buyer or seller, Sagatov himself is sold on the Arlington area, because of the parks and trails balanced with cultural events and local businesses. Sagatov said Arlington “gives you all the elements you want,” but noted it wouldn’t be the same without the people.
“What I really enjoy about Arlington is the people, there’s a great diversity of people so that makes living here a lot of fun.”
The preceding was a sponsored profile written by Eleanor Greene for ARLnow.com.
Founder: Alison Cardy
Do you wish you had a group of fellow professionals who could help you with your career and personal goals?
Alison Cardy did, and that’s why she started Belleconnecta.
Cardy describes Belleconnecta simply as “A community of women who are interested in improving their lives in some way.”
What these women have in common is that they’re professionals living in Northern Virginia who want to increase their sense of community and make positive changes in their lives.
Cardy’s main work is as a career coach who specializes in guiding men and women through career transitions. Cardy has been doing this work for almost seven years, and while she enjoys helping people with their careers and giving specialized advice, she wanted to connect with clients and the local community in an ongoing way.
So in January, with the encouragement of several of her friends and clients, Cardy launched Belleconnecta’s first six month women’s coaching cohort.
The members meet once a month for a structured coaching workshop over dinner. Cardy provides frameworks and exercises that can be applied to any area of life, and members work through this material together and share their insights with one another. They also have a monthly group phone call to share updates and reconnect to the improvements they’re focusing on. Cardy says these two touchpoints mean clients’ goals are never too far from their minds.
“Most things in life improve with attention. This program is really about giving yourself the time and space to pay attention to your life, so that you can make the changes you want to see,” Cardy said. “In addition, the program emphasizes courage. A lot of what we want is on the other side of a hard or scary action. It’s so much easier to take those uncomfortable steps that will really move your life forward when you know there’s a group of wonderful women right beside you cheering you on.”
Cardy was pleased with the outcomes from the session that started in January. Healthy routines were implemented, closets were organized, boundaries were set, outlooks were improved, leadership opportunities at work were snagged, and cross country moves were embarked on. She is wrapping up her second cohort this December and will be launching a new group in January.
There is a second component to the Belleconnecta community. Cardy puts on a personal Self Care Day for Belleconnecta members and the general public a couple times a year. The next one is on December 12 at the Lyon Park Community Center in Clarendon.
“For most of us we think ‘self-care’ and wind up coming home and watching TV at the end of a long day,” Cardy said. “This is more active. It’s a time and space to reflect, a day to recharge and reconnect.”
Cardy knows hers isn’t the only group that provides space for area professionals to connect with one another. But these groups tend to be framed around industry specific professional development or networking events, where it’s often hard to get past small talk level connections.
“I’m so attracted to the in-person format where you get to see the same people every month and talk about things that really matter, because it allows connections to strengthen much more easily,” Cardy said. “This is something the average professional can participate in, get a great result, have a good time and make new friends.”
To receive an invitation to Belleconnecta’s next coaching cohort Open House and a community discount to Self Care Day, join the Belleconnecta community at www.belleconnecta.com.
The preceding was a sponsored profile written by Eleanor Greene for ARLnow.com.
ASAP Printing is small, no doubt about it. But that’s kind of what owner Mohammad “Mo” Shiekhy likes about it: he has to take responsibility for everything.
He says his customer service is what sets ASAP apart from the others. But with a decline in paper printing — there aren’t many others like ASAP.
When Shiekhy took over the business from his friend in 1990, he says there were 13 print shops from Rosslyn to Glebe Road. Now, there are three.
What’s kept his business alive when so many have withered? That dedication to customer service and a willingness to keep up with new technology.
Shiekhy said being good to customers is the cornerstone of his business philosophy.
“I take [customer orders] very personally. I stay on top of the work until it gets done,” he said.
The business has a small staff of four, one to do each job — screen printing, offset, graphic design and front desk. Shiekhy says people who work for him tend not to last if they don’t take service as seriously as he does.
That said, two of his employees have been with the business for over 10 years. One of ASAP’s former employees started working the front desk in 1990 and worked there until she was 33, when she left to pursue accounting work. Shiekhy participated in her wedding.
Shiekhy explained that he includes consulting to make sure that the materials he’s making suit the clients’ needs and offers services at the lowest prices he can.
“I understand their goals when printing, the cheapest way and the best results,” he said. “They get marketing consultation, budget consultation, then they get their print done.”
As far as technology goes, ASAP is “101 percent up to date in that department,” Shiekhy says, talking about the new six-color screen printing machine he acquired last year. He also aims to keep up with whatever is best for the environment in both inks and fabrics in the screen printing industry.
Owner: Dr. Mehdi Adili
McLean Officee: 703-442-0442
Arlington Office: 703-528-0800
For Dr. Mehdi Adili, being a good dentist is about being a thorough educator.
The founder and owner of Ideal Dental Solutions is a firm believer in teaching both his staff and his patients. For patients, he says, knowing about their options makes them feel the most at ease when it comes time to get work done.
One of the reasons he came up with the name of “Ideal Dental Solutions” back when he opened his practice in 1995 was because it emphasizes that everyone has options that they should know about, and the ideal solution is different from person to person. That’s why informing each patient about all of the possible solutions to fix their dental concerns, including the pros and cons of each procedure, helps put each patient at ease.
“It’s so important to me that everything is explained and everyone is educated. I don’t want them to shy away from treatment, I want them to understand what their needs are.” Dr. Adili said. “We leave the door open for them to come in, call or email with questions. We do our best to make ourselves quite available in every sense.”
Part of this education process is offering free consultations to all patients, so they can know what they’re getting into before they get in the chair on the day of the procedure. Sometimes it takes up to two appointments before the patient can settle on what should be done, but Dr. Adili says it’s worth it to comfort patients so they know what to expect. Prospective patients can even have their questions begin to be answered online in Ideal Dental Solutions’ extensive FAQ section.
Prospective patients are often concerned about what their dental insurance will and won’t cover. The staff at Ideal Dental Solutions are committed to telling patients what their insurance will cover, and part of finding those ideal solutions is something that works within insurance, or within a budget if they do not have insurance, Dr. Adili says.
Talking to patients isn’t the only educating Dr. Adili does. Once a week, he meets with his 18-person staff in the McLean or Arlington office and talks to them about the newest procedures or technologies so that patients can receive the best and most modern care. He says he has staff in administrative work, insurance and dental assisting who know as much as most practicing dentists know. This way, all of his staff can answer questions and know what is going on with patient care.
Once patients move from the consulting or educating step in their dental process, and actually get into the chair, they are treated to the best in both dental technology and entertainment technology.
Yes, entertainment. Every patient is different in what they find comforting, so each station is tricked out with personal audio/visual equipment that the patient controls, and a headset. Instead of reading an outdated magazine or listening to the dentist’s tools at work, patients can comfortably watch television or listen to music.
Though Dr. Adili has always had his practice in Northern Virginia, he opened his second location in Arlington in July, near the Courthouse Metro station (1920 Clarendon Blvd). He says what brought him to Arlington was that the area is “vibrant and the location will be helpful for patients old and new.”
The new convenient location has been working well so far, he says, especially because both locations are designed to be similar to each other, with the same technology and the same type of comforting color scheme and modern, clean design. This is another way to put patients at ease as soon as they walk in the door.
Dr. Adili says that what sets Ideal Dental Solutions apart from other dental offices is that they have such a strong emphasis on customer service — that good dentistry is more than about just fixing teeth.
“We make sure that the quality of work is to patients’ satisfaction and the results are predictable,” Dr. Adili said. “Everyone is taken care of, comfortable, even pampered. Dentists are patient-oriented, listen to patients to understand their needs, and provide them with the best service.”
It seems like good dentistry isn’t so complicated after all.
To book an appointment or free consultation, visit Ideal Dental Solutions’ website, or call the Arlington office at 703-528-0800.
The preceding article was written by ARLnow.com and sponsored by Ideal Dental Solutions.
Not everyone feels like they’ve been given the chance to live their destiny. But Beatriz Sampaio does.
Sampaio came to the U.S. from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1985 after studying at a university there. After less than a year in the states, she and a friend-turned-business-partner acquired a house-cleaning company based in Arlington. The previous owner was looking to leave the business, and handed over the keys to Sampaio and her partner.
Sampaio had no experience running a business but was eager to take on the challenge. She said she learned by working and watching.
“I was so young then, and so fresh,” Sampaio said. “I had the knack for it. I was born to be an entrepreneur.”
Sampaio’s partner left the business after five years, and since then, Sampaio has been the sole owner of A Cleaning Service, which is a residential and also a commercial cleaning service that serves Arlington and the D.C. area.
One aspect of her company that Sampaio says sets it apart from her competitors is that A Cleaning Service is not a franchise. When customers want to book an cleaning, have a special request or a problem, they can call her directly.
Sampaio says the direct line from clients to her office is something that hasn’t changed in the 30 years she’s been running the business. Clients appreciate her openness and availability in a world in which it’s often difficult to get a real person on the phone, never mind the business owner.
It’s these personal touches that make A Cleaning Service different from regular maid services. Sampaio is also proud of her employees, who have been called dependable, honest and responsive to feedback in online reviews.
The company does have notably consistent employees. Of her 50-person cleaning staff, Sampaio says many of them have been with the company for eight or nine years, and some many more. One woman, Maria, has been with the company the full 30 years Sampaio has owned it.
It’s her creativity as a business owner that Sampaio thinks makes her a good boss. Some of that creativity comes from connection to music. When she was 10, Sapmaio got her first guitar, and immediately fell in love with the sound. She’s particularly fond of classical and jazz music, and still composes and plays guitar today.
Sampaio likes that there’s low turnover in her company because the job gives workers a chance to really learn a how to do their jobs well, clients like getting to know the workers who often work in their homes.
The four-legged family members also appreciate a consistent staff in their homes too, says Sampaio, a long-time animal lover.
Sampaio’s love of animals goes back to her childhood, and it’s something she likes to incorporate into A Cleaning Service’s appointments. When her staff is friendly towards the animals they see every week or month, they also notice if something is wrong, and can tell the homeowners.
The direct line from clients to Sampaio is something that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years, though Sampaio says some things have changed. Like all businesses that have been around that long, she has had to incorporate computer systems and the Internet into her work.
The Internet has worked to A Cleaning Service’s advantage, connecting customers through forums to recommend their services. Angie’s List and Yelp reviews bring attention to Sampaio’s business because of thorough reviews from pleased clients. A Cleaning Service has won Angie’s List Super Service Award three times in the last four years.