When you walk into your home, can you smell the “Hope”? For Doctor Aromas, a North Miami-based small business that specializes in home perfuming, Hope is its biggest seller. Notes of lime, ginger, tea tree and rose waft through the air, via Doctor Aromas proprietary system that works through the air-conditioning.
Doctor Aromas was founded in 2007 by Rolando Epstein, the CEO, and Marcelo Zelicovich, who oversees research and development. Zelicovich invented the process in Buenos Aires and Epstein had the business experience so it was a great match, said Violeta Horne, who joined the company in 2013 as a partner. The small business grew, she said, because of the easy-to-use do it yourself product it sells, combined with great customer service.
“Since the two-man show it was at the beginning, we have grown into a 30+ employee company bringing joy to people with the best Home Perfumes,” said Horne, who oversees sales and marketing. She calls Hope the “Scent of Miami” because the common areas of so many of the city’s office towers, condo buildings and hotels use it, but the company also offers a whole menu of scents, from Caribbean Breeze to Spa to Euphoria and more.
Doctor Aromas services over 400 buildings every month, said Tina Mendez, who oversees commercial sales and customer care. Just in downtown Miami, customers include Brickell City Center, Icon Brickell, Jade, Epic, 600 Brickell, 700 Brickell, 801 Brickell and much of Brickell Key, she said. The company also services many of the high-end buildings from Miami Beach to Hollywood. “We have very loyal customers that we have been servicing for years. We have been working very good together throughout the [COVID-19] crisis and we were able to keep those clients, reduced in some areas, and provide some stability amid the chaos,” Mendez said.
Doctor Aromas’ proprietary system is so easy to operate, the company also does a lot of residential business, selling subscriptions for the DIY service through its website. “Today a huge amount of our revenue comes from the website. We have a subscription program with over 1,000 subscribers,” Horne said. Now 60% of the business, the website business has helped to buffer the slowdown in commercial business during COVID, she said.
Since August of 2015, Doctor Aromas has been working with Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center with the university’s College of Business. During this time, the FSBDC at FIU team has been instrumental in educating Doctor Aromas on international trade and consumer commodities as well as commercial channel expansion, Horne said. FSBDC at FIU offers no-cost business consulting to small businesses throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, and during the pandemic it has also offered many additional educational webinars.
The FSBDC at FIU team, including consultant Shelly Bernal, “guided us throughout the years and offered a wealth of advice to our CEO regarding sales expansion, and financial training that have been instrumental in our growth,” Horne said.
“Most recently, Shelly served as a very valuable guide and resource regarding loan programs that became available for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. She thought about our company immediately and provided links to all available loans and grants that we could benefit from in order to navigate our business and survive this global pandemic. Her continued support and education regarding PPP loan forgiveness, tax implications, and FFCRA rules are invaluable and we are grateful to have her guidance and support,” Horne added.
Although the company already has a smattering of clients around the nation, its goal for the coming year is continued expansion beyond South Florida. To be able to expand efficiently, Doctor Aromas has recently added a virtual scenting service, in which one of its technicians will do a virtual walkthrough with the customer and determine what’s needed in that specific space and prepare a proposal, without having to be present. The team had thought about starting the service before COVID-19 arrived, but it increasingly became obvious this was the way to expand. “Now everybody’s communicating virtually. We feel that this is the time in which people might be a bit more open to the idea of doing a video call and having a service that’s done virtually,” Mendez said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctor Aromas has been producing a hand sanitizer with its Spa scent and also Hope, because, as Horne says, “you can’t never have enough hope, now you can have Hope in your hands. We are selling gallons to the buildings and in the small sprayer on the website.”
What’s the key to Doctor Aromas’ success?
“We care about the quality of our product, our clients, our employees. Having a good product is essential and “Hope” also is part of our success — having a home perfume that everyone loves is very powerful. We are very proud of the reviews we get,” said Horne.
“We have a great customer service team,” Mendez adds. “We do everything we can to deliver the message that we care. We are very proud of what we accomplished as a company and a team.”