Growing a Business

SCORE has compiled this list of useful resources for business planning and managing.

AllBusiness
AllBusiness.com is a Web portal for small and growing businesses, with how-to articles, forms, agreements, questions-and-answers, solutions and services. 

SCORE Mentor Advices Atlantic Property Maintenance Towards Success

Changing the services allowed Atlanic Property Maintenace to succeed in spite of the poor economy.

My Successes

Joseph Sepe had a problem.  His Palm Coast company  was providing landscaping and janitorial services to homes and small businesses and it was losing customers due to cut-backs resulting from the bad economy.  Expenses had been cut to the bone but it was still very difficult to see how he could keep his company going. 

Joseph decided to seek the assistance of the SCORE Chapter in Palm Coast in early 2009 and met with Roger Leverton, Branch Manager and one of his counselors, Ken Harple.  They did an analysis of the services he provided and together they realized that he had far more to offer than just landscaping and janitorial services.  In fact, he was effectively able to offer a one-stop/one-call building maintenance service .

According to  Joseph, “Based on Roger and Ken’s review and recommendations we changed the name of my company to reflect the wide range of services we were able to provide.  We printed up new business cards and flyers and set up a web site.  They helped me realize that there was a new opportunity to work with local banks to fix up their repossessed mortgage properties and keep them properly maintained on an on-going basis.”  Roger and his counselor  pointed out that this same kind of service could be offered to local Property Managers and Realtors both in the Residential and Commercial markets.  This opened up a whole new opportunity for us. We now run 3 divisions Landscape, Janitorial and Construction Services which is more of a building maintenance division. We have been marketing these services and it has really become a strong side of our business.  Roger and the SCORE Organization have really been a valuable asset to my company”.

So far Atlantic Property Maintenance has grown from 2 employees to 5 and the future looks promising for further growth.  We are happy that we were able to assist Joseph and wish him nothing but continued success and rewards for his hard work and willingness to make changes as they are required.

SCORE has compiled this list of useful resources for association and nonprofit owners.

American Management Association
The American Management Association provides information, seminars and e-learning courses on business management topics. At the top of the home page, AMA features an article or series focusing on a current business issue or topic.

SCORE Mentors Service West Delivery Express to Success

There was a time when Sandra Lowe, self-described “owner, operator, manager, president, CEO, floor sweeper and toilet cleaner” of Service West Delivery Express just threw up her hands, unsure of what to do next. Just a few years after purchasing her new business, Sandra faced the reality of a rise in gas prices and interest rates, and to her knowledge, the “first-ever truck-driver shortage in the history of the United States.”

Owner/Founder
Sandra Lowe
My Location
Phoenix AZ
United States
My Successes

After coming out of retirement to purchase Service West about 10 years ago, Sandra, now 65, quickly realized that the delivery industry was more than just picking up, dropping off and driving trucks—all of which she knew how to do. The company’s annual revenue dropped, increased, then dropped again, and Sandra was basically stumped on what to do next. “My biggest mistake was to think I knew what I was doing,” she says.

The economy has certainly taken its toll on Sandra and Service West, but with her crucial blend of energy, business knowledge and dependable employees, they are forging ahead. In fact, Sandra stresses the motivation to provide her loyal employees with an environment where they can continue to be productive and in which she can keep rewarding their loyalty are two of the things that keep her going, day in and day out.  

Sandra still works 12-hour days, and hopes to soon take her business to the point where she can either pass it on to her family or sell it. She also still meets with two members of SCORE at least twice a year, and acknowledges with gratitude their guidance and encouragement.

How SCORE Helped

Based on the recommendation of a close friend, Sandra came to the Greater Phoenix SCORE. As so often happens when SCORE becomes involved, the resulting plans and goals have provided invaluable clarity and direction. SCORE immediately set Sandra up with their SMART group, designed to look at every aspect of her business and makes recommendations on what to do next. Soon, seven members from SCORE came in and analyzed everything from Service West’s financial records and marketing to the company’s trucks, and came up with the report that would eventually stabilize them.

With the help of SCORE, Sandra was able to make a number of tough decisions and keep her business intact. She relegated almost all aspects of the courier service to focus more on the other facets of her business. She also now leases trucks instead of owning them, a move that helps to combat the constant cost of maintenance and the associated loss of delivery capability, as well as the loss of customer trust.

“Everybody who asks, I say, ‘You’ve gotta go to SCORE,’” she says.

Compass Rose Financial Planning

Bob Machado of Compass Rose Financial Planning recently tried something new in hopes of helping his business grow. He hesitated and procrastinated and even did some hemming and hawing until finally sitting down for a consultation meeting with SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. He thought, “What can they tell me that I don’t already know? I’m the one with 30 years of business experience”. Then he took a second look at the price (free) and knew that fresh eyes, guidance and a good listener would certainly be welcome during what is a tough economic time for most.

Owner/Founder
Bob Machado
My Successes

“We were in a bit of a business log jam. We have so many things going on in our business, so many facets, Ned and Dennis of SCORE helped to focus, prioritize, give guidance and structure. Specifically, they helped us to hone in on our target audience and we’re now starting a new marketing plan. They were excellent listeners and validated some concerns as well while keeping very organized in the meeting session. We’re definitely coming back. Feel free to contact me directly about the SCORE counselors and our meeting. No more shotgun approach to business, use SCORE instead."

Consuelo’s Travel

Consuelo Castillo knows a few things about long-distance travel. Like many other Latin Americans who have come to the United States, the native of Peru had experienced the difficulties of making travel arrangements and dealing with immigration issues while also trying to overcome a language barrier. With the Hispanic population in and around her new home in Lakewood, NJ, growing steadily, Consuelo set her sights on starting a travel agency that specialized in serving Spanish-speaking customers.

Owner/Founder
Consuelo Castillo
My Location
Lakewood NJ
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

Consuelo realized that she had much to learn first. She spent several months working as an unpaid part-time employee for another travel agent to gain experience while also building her English skills. In 1998, she felt ready to take the plunge.  Drawing on her personal savings and the part-time assistance of her husband, Orlando, she launched Conseulo’s Travel.

“We soon found that customers were asking for help for other things such as money transfers, translations, tax returns and immigration counseling,” Consuelo recalls. “My husband and I quickly learned as much as we could about them so we could add those services.

Consuelo soon found it necessary to hire another part-time employee, and to seek financial assistance for new equipment and leasehold improvements. While researching information at the local library, she saw a notice for a SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups. That led to one-on-one mentoring with Bob Miesemer, the former president/CEO of a business machines company.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“We needed help developing business plan, our marketing strategy, and legal requirements,” Consuelo says. “Bob took us through each one step by step, showing us what elements were needed and why they were important.”

With Bob’s help, Consuelo received her loan and continued to grow her business. Unfortunately, the rent on her leased space began to take off as well. That challenge simply created a new opportunity. In 2002, the couple purchased a three-story building ideally located across from the Lakewood municipal building. Consuelo’s business occupies the ground floor, with the remaining space leased to tenants that include a lawyer, employment agency, and a newspaper. With her fully bilingual staff, which includes Orlando, Consuelo enjoys steadily growth in both her revenue and customer base.

One frequent visitor to her business is Bob Miesemer, who drops by to check on their progress and answer questions. “I really appreciate his counseling and support,” Consuelo says. “When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.”

How SCORE Helped

“When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.” says Consuelo Castillo.

With Bob’s encouragement, Consuelo is working on becoming a SCORE volunteer so that other Hispanic entrepreneurs will benefit from her experience. “I tell them that if I can succeed after being in the United States for only seven years, anybody can,” Consuelo says. “You just need to be sure of what you want to do, and where to go to get help.”

SCORE Mentors Haas Media LLC

“I wish everyone had a Howard!”

That’s how Kim Haas, president of Jersey City, N.J.-based Haas Media LLC feels about her SCORE mentor, Howard Geltzer.  For the past three years, the communications and community outreach entrepreneur has relied on Geltzer’s business expertise to market her skills in the busy and competitive New York City market.

Owner/Founder
Kim Haas
My Location
Jersey City NJ
United States
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

Originally from Philadelphia, Kim combined her love of languages and cultures with communications to start her own business while living in Milwaukee in 2003.  Clients relied on Haas’ multi-lingual capabilities to reach an increasingly diverse population. 

Her work included the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s first Hispanic marketing campaign; public relations, community outreach, translation and educational initiatives for several multi-billion-dollar Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) highway reconstruction projects; and an award-winning WisDOT educational initiative called  “Careers in Motion,” which introduces elementary and middle school students to the wonders of science, engineering and transportation.

Eager to return to her East Coast roots and experience big-city living, Kim and her husband relocated to metropolitan New York City in 2006.  One of the first things Kim did was contact SCORE’s Manhattan office.  “I’d learned about SCORE while living in Milwaukee,” Kim says.  “I was so fortunate to get to work with Howard, who once owned his own public relations agency.”

Kim’s efforts are paying off.  Along with maintaining her presence in Wisconsin, she currently provides Spanish media training for the Toy Industry Association. She will soon begin production on a Latin American travel series.  Kim is also pursuing projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Kim’s relationship with Howard Geltzer had an immediate benefit, as he mentored her on a strategy to maintain her business in Wisconsin while establishing a new presence in New York. “I was afraid that I would have to give up all those great clients because I was no longer there physically,” Kim says.  “Howard showed me how to make it work.  It didn’t have to be an either/or decision.  I could do both.”

Over the past two years, Kim and Howard have met each month to discuss potential business development opportunities, strategize and plan for the future, and discuss trends and issues affecting the communication business.   “Howard holds me accountable on what I need to work on between meetings,” Kim says.  “He’ll then evaluate what I’ve found, and help me analyze what did and didn’t work.”

“I’ll keep working with Howard as long as he’ll have me,” she says.  “I’ve been richly rewarded by his experience and guidance.  And he’s so accessible; I can call or email him, and he’ll get right back to me.  He’s one of the best things to happen to me in New York City!”

How SCORE Helped

“Anyone even thinking about starting a business should check out SCORE. They give you great insights on things to think about. And, it’s always nice to have someone in your corner who’s always there for you.” says Kim Haas.

With the Help of SCORE Mentor, Upper Valley Stove Company, Succeeds.

A Successful Transition after a Very Rocky Start

Shawn Griffin had worked for Upper Valley Stove Co. for six years when Bruce Hennessey, the owner and  founder of the business some twenty years before, started talking about retiring and moving back to his native Canada. Shawn thought that he knew enough about the business - and had enough equity in his home for the necessary funds - to jump into negotiations to acquire it.

So, with the help of SCORE counselor Fred Thomas, who had worked with Bruce over the years, was actually a customer of the store, and had developed a comfortable relationship with Shawn, Shawn was able to pull off the deal and became the sole owner on January 1, 2007.  Fred helped Shawn with some financial modeling and tested his ability to handle the debt. Subsequent to the deal, Fred has helped Shawn with monthly mentoring and as a business advisor.

However, on a fateful day just one month into his ownership of the business, Shawn thought that he may have made a very big mistake. Carol Dunn, Shawn’s only employee, who had been with the company for many years and knew everything there was to know about the business, was killed in a horrendous, three fatality vehicle accident. Not only did Shawn lose a very good friend and a very key employee, he lost the company’s only truck. But, Shawn has an amazing network of family and friends and they all rallied around him in his obvious hour of need.

The Upper Valley Stove team now includes Shawn’s brother Eric Griffin, Dale Whitney, and Amanda Pero. But, the business would hardly be the success it is without Gordon Pero and his son Dave Pero as well as family members Ernest, George, and Larry Griffin, and good friend Phil Masterson who all volunteer in the evenings and on the weekends do whatever needs be done.

With Shawn’s strong work ethic and his desire to build a business that sons Brett, 9,  and Derek, 7,  might take over some day (“After they attend college,” said Shawn), Upper Valley Stove is already the largest pellet stove installer and pellet supplier in the Upper Valley. And, Upper Valley Stove is one of the top 30 distributors nationwide out of the over 800 dealers of Harman Stoves.

Shawn, who was born in Claremont,  raised in Lebanon, and married Heather Merrihew, a local girl, is committed to the upper valley and to keeping his friends and neighbors warm and comfortable in the long Northeast winters.

“We back up our products and our carefully chosen suppliers back us up,” said Shawn explaining one of the main reasons for his level of success. “Our plan is to keep serving customers in about a 45 mile radius of our store in Lebanon,” said Shawn. “That way we can provide the level of service that our customers demand.”

If your interested in learning more about having a pellet stove installed in your home or place of business, you can reach Shawn at Upper Valley Stove (located at 254 Dartmouth College Highway (Route 4) in Lebanon just off I-89, Exit 17) or you can call him at 603-448-4300 or e-mail him at shawn@uppervalleystove.com. To really get a sense of what Upper Valley Stove is all about, you should also check out their website at www.uppervalleystove.com.

 

 

Owner/Founder
Shawn Griffin
Year Company Formed
2001

Umpleby’s

 

The “Baker’s Muse” Takes Umpleby’s to Another Level

What is Umpleby’s you ask? And who is the baker’s muse? Well, Umpleby’s is Umpleby’s Makers of Fine Baked Goods on South Street in Hanover and the baker’s muse, as she calls herself, is Carolyn Begley, the charming Australian-born wife of baker and shop owner Charles Umpleby. What a team!!

A trained and experienced chef with a dream of running his own bakery, Charles and Carolyn spent several weekends traveling north from their home in Brooklyn looking for the perfect spot. They thought they found it some six years ago and opened their shop in the Bridgewater Mill Mall in Bridgewater, Vermont. The shop was doing well even though the business is that neck of the woods was quite seasonal, but Charles knew he needed some help. So three years into his venture, he turned to SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business - and fortunately Ann Hargraves was assigned to be his counselor.

With her strong financial background, Ann knew right away that Charles needed to get his arms around his finances and take advantage of various tax code opportunities that can be instrumental in helping small businesses achieve their objectives.

With the business doing better in Bridgewater, Charles began setting up every Saturday in the summer at the Norwich Farmer’s Market - with Carolyn by his side. The word spread. Umpleby’s was the place to go for exceptional baked goods including various meat pies with Carolyn’s Australian influence.

Then the call came. Dartmouth College was renovating the building at 3 South Street and looking for someone to open a bakery/café. Charles felt it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “Things were going well in Bridgewater, but Hanover is much more cosmopolitan and not as seasonal. I worked with the team at Dartmouth for several months and we opened the new shop and bakery last November.”

While that transition was underway, Charles turned once again to Ann Hargraves at SCORE for some guidance and support. This time, Ann turned to Alice Trent who for years had successfully run Alice’s Bakery in Norwich. Alice was kind enough to advise Charles on what it would take to own a bakery in the Hanover area.

“Alice gave me the confidence to go ahead with the project,” said Charles. “I wasn’t sure that Hanover really needed another bakery and another café, but so far things are all that we could have hoped for. I should mention that Gavin Davis, of Hartland, Vermont, who has been with us over 5 years and is in charge of the bakery, made the move from Bridgewater to Hanover. He’s a key member of our team.”

With an expanded menu to accompany the expanded seating to accompany the expanded hours, the new Umpleby’s is open 7 days a week with growth plans including a light café dinner menu.

You can reach Umpleby’s at 603-643-3030 or visit them on the web at www.umplebys.com or e-mail them at umpleby@vermontel.net - or better yet - stop into the shop. It is, after all, a bakery and nothing smells better than a bakery.

 

 

Candid Wines Finds Success With Help From SCORE

In 2005, Damien Casten and Scott Kerrigan were preparing to launch Candid Wines, an innovative new business built around organizing unique food and wine experiences for professionals and corporations. A lesson learned at a Chicago SCORE-sponsored presentation proved valuable in helping the two novice business owners grow their company.

Owner/Founder
Damien Casten and Scott Kerrigan
My Location
Chicago IL
United States
My Successes

Candid Wines put together an event with NBA Coach Greg Popovich which took place on November 5, 2005, and raised $25,000 for the Chicago-based Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, with a portion of the funds directed to families of cancer patients whose lives had been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The high-profile event garnered substantial local and national publicity, and put Candid Wines in the public eye just as Damien and Scott were making the final preparations to launch the business. “The event got us off to a flying start,” Damien says.  “Yet all that attention cost me nothing but my time and energy.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Damien recalls what he learned at a Chicago SCORE-sponsored presentation from guerrilla marketing expert Al Lautenslager about the importance of engaging the press. “Al’s presentation taught me the importance of telling the story to the press. The SCORE mentors who were on hand complimented his talk with great insights about tailoring a sales pitch to a particular audience, and being persistent.”

How SCORE Helped

“Because we don’t a have person here who’s done a lifetime of selling, SCORE provides our role model,” says Damien.  “Their insights have helped me guage the progress of our sales and marketing efforts, and how to adjust our strategy as the relationship develops.  They’re such a good resource, and I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity to learn from them.”

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