Guest is Samantha Morales of Mother-Daughter LLC
Thank you so much to PCSgrades for allowing me to be on this platform to speak to our military spouses and just to our military community as a whole, we’re just so appreciative of it. Again, my name is Sam Morales. I have been a military spouse for a long time so my husband was 24 years active duty as a Marine. I did not get married until he was in already 11 years so technically I did 13 years active duty with him. However, that included a lot of PCS moves, and it also included an opportunity for me to work for the Marine Corps in different capacities, I worked as a volunteer. I think a lot of us know what the Key volunteers are, so I was a Key volunteer many many moons ago. I also worked for MCS, I worked for them for 12 years, and I was the program manager for Marine Corps Family Team Building for I think four years out of that but in Family Readiness for seven.
I love the military community, more than anything in the world. I’m so passionate about it, and it’s probably because I came in a little later in life, and just realized quickly what some of those challenges were, and I took some of those challenges and I embraced them, and I’m always looking for ways to help military families so when I was allowed to work for this amazing company Mother Daughter I jumped at the opportunity. There was no way that I was going to say no to being able to provide additional services, and help not only for our service members but for their families as well so that’s a little bit of background about me. I absolutely loved being a military spouse! My husband is now retired. We are in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which is just a beautiful location, and I have a daughter that just turned 18, and will be transitioning out and going away to college soon so I’ll be able to have a little more time on my hands to, to give more to the company that I work with, and. And it’s just been a very fulfilling life for me as a military spouse, so thank you.
Can you just tell us about Mother Daughter LLC?
Absolutely. So Mother Daughter LLC is a small business, and it primarily came out of a need, and necessity. The owner and the CEO of the company are both military. The owner’s a military spouse, and the CEO is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. So they’ve been there, done that. They’ve done moves with kids, animals, you name it everything, but the genesis of Mother Daughter really started with Cindy Janae, who is our VP of operations she’s the owner of the company. She worked with government contracts for many years and primarily on food contracts for the Army. Out of working and doing that, she kept seeing a need and a trend, the constant need for lodging for event management and so forth. She looked at it, she was like this is a great business opportunity for us so she went ahead and ran with it. So, what she’s done is she’s developed this amazing company that provides services for the military. We do Yellow Ribbon events, we do Strong Bonds events, we do events for the state here in Virginia, we help the Department of Health Department of Education. We have event managers that help execute these events. But most importantly, what we do is, two things: we build very very very strong relationships with our vendors, our hotels and our clients, that’s important to us. We’d like to know you on a personal level, we want to know what do you need, what do you want to do we can get that for you. The second thing we do very well is we negotiate pricing. So for example, you know, anyone can go to a hotel and make a reservation. However, if you want to get the best pricing possible you work with a company like Mother Daughter, because we’re going to negotiate that for you. We’re going to get you the best price with the best, best value. We know which hotels are great, we know which locations are fantastic, we know which locations are kind of slim. So we’ve got a little bit more research and we have to find something for you, but that’s really what the genesis of mother daughter is. We found we saw a need, and we ran with that need.
Can military families use this, what you do, while in route to it the next duty station? If I’m moving from here to California, can you help me with that?
Absolutely. So, this is what happened during the pandemic of COVID-19, right. I think every small business had an opportunity to pause and really strategically look at what’s next in their business model, so that they can stay relevant, consistent and gainfully employed. And so as a team collectively and collaboratively we all just put our heads together and we thought of what are other opportunities that are out there that we haven’t really tapped into, but we know that the need is there. And so we figured, our military families: they’re constantly moving.
I remember, oh my goodness, driving cross country with a toddler, a dog, you name it, and I’m probably dating myself a little bit because this is 2005, when we moved to Virginia, and I’m like, in a car with a map, because GPS were like $900, so I couldn’t afford that right? And also a book and the book was Days Inn. I was looking for any Days Inn hotel that we can stay at. And then I would look at okay it has a pool, it has this.
What a great opportunity for us to help you, our military service members. We know these hotel teams, we know which ones are going to be the ones that have hotels, which isn’t going to be the ones that have kitchenettes, which ones are going to have extra amenities that you really didn’t think of but we know you need it because we’re military families and spouses also. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know but we’ve been there, done that.
So we can certainly help you absolutely as you’re driving if you’re driving cross country, you give us a call and tell us “Hey, I’m going to make these pit stops, can you help me find a place?” That’s where we build our personal relationship with you, and we ask you: what are your needs? How many children do you have, are you traveling with pets? You tell us all this great information, and we will find that place for you. That may mean that we find you a hotel that has a great pool, a sliding pool for these kids you want to wear them out because you want them to sleep at night. Also, you want to make this PCS move enjoyable. There’s nothing more stressful than already knowing that you’re going to the unknown. Let’s make that transition from here to there, a nice one. Let’s say we want to help you do that and that’s our goal.
Is this for international moves too?
Right now we are not in the international market, but that’s not to say that we would not expand. We just don’t have those resources right now, to help us kind of build that. We are always open to expand, no matter what. And that’s probably going to be our next step as we strategically look at how else are we are going to market ourselves and place ourselves in the industry. But for now, the answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
At what point in the PCs process should a military family contact you?
As soon as you know that you’re going to be PCSing! And I say that because, you know, there are different seasons in the hotel market industry as well. So, right now, a lot of families probably haven’t had to worry about it too much because of COVID, but pre COVID, you’ve got families traveling all year long, so the sooner we know that you’re going to be traveling and where your locations will be, the easier it is for us to find you the perfect place, and also to get really good pricing for you–really good negotiated pricing for you with all the amenities that you want. That’s not to say that we won’t take a last minute request, because we certainly will. We will try to help you as much as possible to find that perfect place, but it makes it a lot easier for us to build that rapport, establish that relationship with one another so that we can anticipate your needs, before you even know that you need them when you start telling us what your plans are as you’re traveling.
It’s very rare that anyone is even able to anticipate military family needs to include us, because you know not all of us are seasoned at moving and even if we are, every move is different.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean I had one PCS move, where I did not expect two things happen: I lost my military ID on the way. I didn’t realize that I was going to need my military ID. Then I got really sick and I had to go to a clinic in Yuma, and I didn’t have my ID. I mean, thank goodness I have my service member with me, but I had strep throat, we ended up having to stay in Yuma a little longer than we wanted to, because then our daughter got sick, so you know it’s all these unanticipated things that we can help you with. If you plan on being at a certain hotel, but something has come up, we can call that hotel and tell them “look they’ve had a family emergency” and we can more than likely get you out of any requirements for payment or anything like that, because we can help that way. That’s what our specialty is.
What do you help with exactly with healthcare or special needs?
So for example, how many of you have a family member that is a diabetic and has special needs for their illness? We make sure that the hotel that we find for you has a refrigerator in that room, so you can store your medicine appropriately. You know those are those are the things that we can do for you as far as healthcare is concerned. We also look for hotels if you have a service member who is disabled, an amputee or, and so forth, we will work with that hotel to make sure that one it’s an ADA compliant facility too. We will also check some of their amenities like their swimming pools so they have one of those wheelchair things that are gonna help that service member. We also try and see if they have some of the tools that are used for people that are deaf, so we want to make sure the hotel has that if someone may be hearing impaired. So we asked for those things in advance, when we build that rapport in that relationship with you and you’re telling us what your needs are. So those are things that are crucial that you don’t necessarily think of because you’re like “I just need a hotel room as I’m driving cross country.”, But these are all little things that when you get to the front desk and then you’re asking these questions: “Can I have this? Can I add that?” And they may say, “We don’t have a refrigerator for you in the room.” So we we try to anticipate what those needs may be for you, depending on what your situation is.
Can you tell us the difference between a military family that would be utilizing Mother Daughter to secure lodging versus someone on the military side of things doing it for us?
Sure. I think it’s a great compliment to one another, no matter what, our service members are extremely accustomed to working with that resource that they know has really helped them throughout the years. You know I see Mother Daughter as an additional support to them, not replacing one. We would never want to do that! But we can augment what they do. I think that’s the beauty of it. With the military they’re gonna find you a hotel they’re going to find whatever they think you need. We’re gonna do the personal approach to it, and we’re gonna really give you what your family needs. You know, especially if it’s a long term type of deal if let’s suppose you’re going to stay at a hotel for a month because your housing won’t be ready for a month. We’re gonna try and find you a place that also has maybe free appetizers in the evenings, sometimes that happens at some hotels. We’re gonna try to get you that best rate for the entire month. So I don’t want to say that we’re replacing what the military can do, but we will certainly augment and help out as much as we can in any way that we can.
It doesn’t have to be an either or, right?
Absolutely. And you could say we’re gonna drive cross country from California to New York. These are the pitstops we want to do. These are some of the sites we want to see while we’re there because we’re going to make this a vacation, we’re going to make it fun. We’ve got the kids. And we’re like, Okay, great. So we’re going to help you find those perfect places along the way as you get there, so you know they’re gonna do the big piece of it which is your, your, you know, flights and so forth and then your final destination. Let us help you in between. And then if you get to your final destination, and you don’t have a place to live yet, let us help you find that extended place for you to stay for a while.
We ask the hotels very specific questions as well about the safety on their property. We asked them, “Do you have sufficient lighting in your parking garage?” We ask them, “are you in an area that has no crime or low crime, no prostitution no drugs?” We asked all of those questions. And then we also do our research. We pride ourselves on giving our servicemembers and their families the very best at a very good value. And so we will never give someone a rating of less than a triple A rating. Whenever we propose a hotel, we look at what is their rating. You know, we do our research on TripAdvisor we look at how many complaints have they had, what were the complaints about, and you know sometimes you have to take those with a grain of salt because sometimes you know you’ve got a guilty person who walked in in a bad mood and nothing was gonna make them happy, no matter what. However, we take the time to really research these properties. So because we want our service members to be very very safe, no matter what that is primary, but we also want them in a very good hotel that’s going to take great care of them. And I can tell you a lot of our hotel partners love our military. So many times we hear it over and over, and they tell us “thank you for your service” because everyone in our company is military or prior military. We have our military spouses. So, if there happens to be a retired service member who wants to work for us. So really we make sure that their safety is definitely taken into consideration for sure.
How do you wade through all those service-specific requirements that lodging facilities have to have for us to be able to stay there? Each service has specific requirements on where you can and cannot stay for travel reimbursement.
Sure, I can touch on that just a little bit, as far as orders are concerned. So in order for us to get you the best military rate, if you will, at any hotel, you will, you should have military orders in hand when you check in, because we’re negotiating pricing with them we’re telling them that we’re doing this for a service member and their family. So they’re going to expect those orders so if you’ve got military orders showing that your PCS from one location to another, then by all means you know have that available and ready for long term logging so what a lot of hotels require and this is from just my memory of PCS and so forth and long term what they require is not only the orders, but sometimes they require something showing that you’re not going to have housing available for X amount of time and that’s why you’re there. At the end of the day, you still should always go through your own chain of command to make sure that you are in compliance with whatever those requirements are, you know, and we will work with whatever it is that your chain of command designates and dictates in order to make sure that you have the best place possible, but also within the guidance and parameters that tip is set forth for you.
Can you give us an example of some specific lodging requirements that a family might need that you’ve been able to secure?
Sure, absolutely. So, you know, our military families, they’re not all the same. We all have larger families. Some of us have smaller rooms for our larger families, we can usually try to get them a large room, because that’s a challenge. So if you have five kids, or you’re traveling with pets, a specific hotel may not be able to give you one room for all those people, but we can help you find a suite, you may need a suite with two bedrooms, you may need cots, you may need cribs, you may need a pull out couch, you may need all those things in order for everyone to fit in that room, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in compliance with fire codes and restrictions that each hotel has. So that’s where we can provide assistance. We can get you a room that’s got the walkthrough rooms, you have two rooms, the conjoined rooms. So that’s definitely something that we’re we’re planning for events, especially Yellow Ribbons. We always have to make sure that we’re telling the hotels, you may have people that come with more than four people, you know it’s going to be a lot of kids. So that’s one of the things that we get often. Another thing is, parents are always looking for a hotel that can provide those additional amenities for the children. So there are a lot of hotels that have swimming pools, but they also have slides and they also have, you know, indoor play rooms, and so forth. So we try to help you and find that for them. If a family tells us we have a child that has autism, we need to make sure that they are able to play safely in this hotel. We’re going to try to find you a place that has that inside playground for your child. We can’t always find exactly what you’re looking for, because hotels, they’re all different. But we can try our very very best to help you find something that’s going to meet the needs of your family, and every family is so different in every challenge. Hearing impaired ADA compliant, we have families that have children in wheelchairs, service members in wheelchairs, so we have to make sure they can get in the showers. These are things that we need to make sure that you’re safe, but that you’re also having a good experience as you travel. We’ve built these great relationships with so many hotels to so they’re more than happy to help.
You mentioned that this is a free service for military families, zero cost that’s how we know this is legit. And where can the military community find you?
You can find us on LinkedIn. You can find us on Facebook, and we also have a website, so our website is www.motherdaughterLLC.com, all one word. And there you will find all of the services that we provide. There’s a bio there about each and every one of us, you’ll see how amazing everyone on this team is. I can’t say it enough, like I pinch myself because I’m so grateful that I work with such amazing human beings who really care and love our military, and they just do it because we have to get back no matter what, you know we always feel like we have to get back but what a great opportunity to do it with our military servicemembers and their families. And you know what the service is available for, let’s suppose that you decide that you’re going to have a family reunion. When you get to your new destination and you want to plan a big event, call us, we’ll plan it for you. We’ll find you the space will do all that for you, you know, those do require additional fees because we’re planning something for you that big. And so those are administrative fees, but I can guarantee you that you’re not going to be disappointed. We guarantee that right now, you’re going to get the best of the best. So, for a nominal fee I think you know it’s always worth it for sure. But yeah, our website and, you know, pick up the phone and call us, you know my personal number if anyone wants to call me on the phone or website, I don’t think. But, I talk to everybody all day long. It’s 540-429-2651. That’s my number, anyone can call me, tell me I’m the Director of Sales and tell me what it is that you need. And we can try to help you as best as we possibly can go on our website, look at the people that work for mother daughter. And you know, guys, we always also have opportunities for to employ some of our military spouses for sure there are locations where we don’t have a presence, you know we have, we have an employee in Oregon we have in Portland, we have an employee in San Diego, we have one in North Carolina, I’m here in Virginia, the owners are in Pittsburgh. And one of our event managers is also in Pittsburgh, so sometimes we may have an event in Miami. We don’t have anybody in Miami, but if we happen to have a military spouse there, and we need her to do a site visit and hotel and check it out for us. We’d love to pay you to go and do that for the day for us.