Although many San Francisco small business owners are feeling better about the local economy, they understand the need to maintain a successful business.

(Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Ballinger)

(Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Ballinger)

While the small business owner can expect some problems along the way, there are plenty of resources available, from workshop instruction, to increase capital spending, to seeking advice from an experienced mentor.

Carolyn Bush Ballinger and her husband Larry are successful small business owners of Ballinger Restaurant Equipment, Inc. After more than 20 years of serving the North Bay, the couple has acquired a wealth of experience in running a profitable small business, while weathering the storms from the recession. Carolyn shares some helpful advice to individuals interested in starting a new business.

What is your title and educational background?

“I am the Vice President of Ballinger Restaurant Equipment Inc. I earned an A.A. degree in 1975 from Cabrillo College in Aptos, California and a B.A. in English with a K-12 teaching credential from Sonoma State College, now known as Sonoma State University, in 1977. I also have a background in accounting and handle the financial and administrative side of our family business.”

What type of small business do you run?

“My husband, Larry, and I own and operate Ballinger Restaurant Equipment in Santa Rosa, a food service kitchen design and commercial equipment sales and installation company. We have been in business for more than 20 years specializing in new projects and remodel of commercial kitchens for schools, restaurants and hotels. My husband has been in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years. Among the wide services we offer are on-site consulting, equipment choice, floor plans, equipment specifications and construction supervision.”

What type of advice can you offer for new small business owners?

“Timely response to all forms of communication to current and new customers are absolutely key to the success of a small business. No customer wants to have to wait unnecessarily for a response and any delay might prompt the customer to go elsewhere with their business. All emails, voices messages, faxes and other communications must be answered promptly, nothing over a day, even possibly on weekends.”

“Also remember to treat your customers the way you would like to be treated in a business relationship. Almost 100 percent of our business is with repeat customers or by referral.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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