SCORE Mentor Helps Faciliate Business Plan for Adirondack Coffee Company
After former welder turned coffee shop owner Kevin LaPlante realized his gourmet coffee shop and bistro had lost a significant amount of money in an eight month period, he was beginning to wonder if there really was a problem or if he was just a bad business man. Kevin remembered his positive experience with the UTICA chapter of SCORE when he was trying to get his idea of the ground four years earlier and called on them once again for some help.
A great idea for a gourmet coffee shop and bistro came to fruition with the Adirondack Coffee Company in Clinton, NY. Owner Kevin LaPlante was able to make his business successful thanks to its ideal location, unique product, and growing number of loyal customers.
After a SCORE mentor was able to assist Kevin in exposing a stealing employee, Adirondack Coffee Company quickly regained its financial health and Kevin LaPlante was soon able to begin considering various opportunities for expansion, such as opening new branches and selling his products on the Internet.
The Utica chapter of SCORE named Adirondack Coffee Company its Small Business of the Year for 1999, giving the company some valuable newspaper exposure in the process. "That story generated a lot of calls about my restaurant, but also a lot of questions from other prospective entrepreneurs eager to learn more about SCORE," Kevin says. "I'm glad the story generated that kind of response because SCORE is a great, yet often overlooked resource. I'm always happy to talk them up."
Volunteer mentor Frank Mitchell helped Kevin in the initial stages of starting his company and was able to counsel Kevin and point him in the direction of another SCORE mentor, Andrew Trinkaus, the former owner of a highly successful local restaurant whose experience and guidance helped Kevin crack the case of the missing money. Kevin is able to contact his SCORE mentors on a regular basis as he evaluates financing, location and marketing issues.
Volunteer mentor Frank Mitchell assisted Kevin in formulating a solid business plan that impressed even the most discriminating commercial loan officers in order to get Adirondack Coffee Company started. Also during a time when Kevin had a very specific need in the operation of his business, Frank was able to recommend another SCORE mentor with the experience needed, Andrew Trinkaus.
Andrew carefully scrutinized Adirondack Coffee Company's books, scheduling and inventory procedures, and agreed that that LaPlante was doing everything possible to control costs. His gut feeling was that there were two possible explanations for profit loss: either products were leaving the store without being paid for, or worse, one of Kevin's employees was stealing. It turned out Andrew was right and Kevin was able to confront the employee and put an end to the stealing.
"You can't afford to make a mistake with a business because your name and your family's welfare are at stake. I needed to talk to people who have been in the trenches. I had confidence in Frank Mitchell and Andrew Trinkaus because they didn't just know about business; they've lived it." In reference to nailing down why his business was losing money and how SCORE mentors were able to help, Kevin says "I knew I could trust Andrew's judgment because he had experienced these and other problems while running his restaurant for many years. He offered some ideas for modifying my financial controls, and encouraged me to be more observant."