SCORE Mentor Helps Bellyrub Klub Find Success
Jobs beget jobs. When the Bellyrub Klub created eight new jobs to provide doggie day care in Lombard, a western suburb of Chicago, owners of the dogs were able to hold jobs they might not otherwise have been able to take. Sue Aikman is happy to make this leveraged contribution to our struggling economy with her growing business. And she is grateful to Bruce Zimmerman and Lee McFadden from SCORE for mentoring her through the process over seven sessions held over the past two and a half years.
“When I initially met with Lee and Bruce, I had started promoting canine care and training from my house and had developed a fairly sizable client base by word of mouth,” Sue said. “When I leased my first space for the business, I had to begin managing my time more effectively. No longer was I able to just say yes to everyone’s request. I had to start planning, putting costs together, hiring staff, creating pricing guidelines, defining services, making drop off and pick up schedules, etc.”
Sue quickly outgrew her first space and found a larger one that required a significant build out. “Lee and Bruce knew I was in desperate need of help managing finances, determining what services I could financially support, making budgets and business plans, and preparing loan documents for the bank. As they helped me prioritize, I was learning how to work ON the business instead of IN the business. They were also very good at holding me accountable.”
The Bellyrub Klub continues to grow, and Sue who comes from a computer consulting background, has proven to be a quick study as well as a dog lover. She is active in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Animal Behavior College as an ABC Mentor Trainer, and the Delta Society with two dogs on a Therapy Dog Team.
Sue now does a lively business in dog-related retail items, as well as dog-specific seminars and workshops. Her new facility even provides for overnight boarding. And she uses an e-mail newsletter to offer canine tips and promote an imaginative stream of special offers and events.
“Lee and Bruce are always just a phone call or e-mail away,” Sue said, “and it’s comforting to know that. I expect to need them for a while to come and hope that someday I can do for someone else what SCORE has done for me.”