1) Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
Our customers are primarily homeowners and small businesses. We believe that they deserve the best, even if their financial resources are limited. We pride ourselves on our high standards of excellence for every job. We only use highly skilled technicians who are trained to be the best in their field. They are career professionals who are experienced and fully dedicated to their work. They focus on the specific and unique needs of each customer. Our approach helps us stand out from our competitors. Our priority is to build community relationships and to be known as a company of integrity. With 25 years of accumulated experience, we can repair almost anything related to plumbing! We also provide residential and business installations and place a high priority on innovative and energy efficient solutions. None of our competitors offer the kind of customized attention that we offer.
2) What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
During my apprenticeship, I observed different ways that customers were handled and decided that if I ever owned my own business – the people I served would be my highest focus. The advantage of being an entrepreneur is that I can develop my own code of business ethics. I believe that the success of my business is based on trust – trust that the job will be done right, trust that the materials and products will be the best, and trust that the price will be fair. I personally visit every site to check how the job is proceeding; and I always give my customers the opportunity to provide feedback so that I can continue to improve my services. I like the fact that my success is predicated on building relationships with my customers. The biggest challenge has been securing start-up funding and initially attracting customers. My greatest achievement is that my business has grown every year through primarily the referral process – a true testimony to my high standards.
3) How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
We are on track to align ourselves with Habitat for Humanity as one way to give back to the community. Our intent is to offer pro bono hours of service and product discounts. We also hire our staff primarily from the community and use local supplies when possible. In addition, one of the most meaningful ways of giving back to the community is when we sense that a customer is experiencing a crisis or is having financial difficulties. In those cases we provide our services at a deep discount or pro-bono. Our “giving back” philosophy not only brings us loyal customers, but it also connects us more closely to our neighbors. We donate time and dollars whenever we can and are constantly on the alert for more opportunities to help the disenfranchised members of our community.
4) What would a $150,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds?
Now that we have firmly established our business presence in the local community and our operational expenses are well within our control, we would like to execute a plan for long-term growth and stability. We would like to establish additional business agreements with distributorships and/or dealerships so that we can remain ahead of the curve in terms of cutting edge products. And although we are proud of our marketing-via-referrals success, we would like to extend our reach to a broader base through focused advertising (including social media, print and radio), all within a comprehensive marketing and branding campaign. We also need an extra vehicle to keep up with our growth projections, as well as more office space and two additional employees.
5) What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
Our short-term growth plan is to expand beyond our local base and increase profits without compromising the customer focus approach that is the essence of our business identity. Within the next year or two, we will conduct studies of our competition, develop questionnaires for our current customers to weigh in on what we do best and how we can improve, develop focused marketing strategies, and improve our website presence. Our long-term growth plan is to increase our customer base by 100% within 5 years and increase our revenue by (200%) during the same time period. This grant will give us the funds necessary to develop a solid plan and finance its execution.