A lot of folks have been seeing a heavy ad campaign for this grant from Chase. Yes, it’s 100K. Yes, I had to answer a few questions to apply. I figured I’d disclose those answers to those answers here in order to sway a few people to vote for us. Thank you for all your support!
Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
We truly are a mom and pop shop, where the owner is on site while the work is being done. Our employees value us because we work along side them. We genuinely care about the quality of workmanship we provide our clients as landscapers. From routine maintenance to designing and installing patios, walkways, retaining walls and gardens, we are very attentive to every last detail. There are always other landscaping outfits out there from the one man show with a truck and trailer to much larger multi-million dollar companies. We don’t focus on things like that though. Our attention is focused on one client at a time, providing them and their project with the individual attention they deserve. It’s what’s lead to our growth and small business success.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
My husband started Algiere’s Landscaping in 2007 because he decided he was ready to take ownership of the work he was already doing for someone else’s business. When we meet in 2009, he hadn’t done too much with it as he quickly learned it takes a lot of time to do both the physical and mental component of landscaping. In 2011, he gave me half the business because I told him I’d make it “go”. I was ready to make the leap from punching a time clock to controlling the hours I worked. I own a huge dept to the small female business owners I worked for as a teenager all the way up to my early 30s. They are the true inspiration for me making the decision to be self employed. Heading into our fifth season, our gross sales have grown steadily, we’ve gone from a one man show to five employees and three trucks, and we’re continuing to grow. The biggest challenge we’ve faced is how to manage that growth from cash flow, to adding employees and equipment, to developing a marketing plan to sustain and support our continued growth.
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.
As small business owners, we feel a sense of obligation to our community and the need to give back. For years, we would shave my husband’s winter beard; asking for donations to a local non-profit health care provider. This year, we’re involved in starting a community garden to help provide fresh produce to our local soup kitchen. We are also committed to buying our supplies and materials locally whenever possible in order to help support our local economy. It’s because of that practice we’ve developed great working relationships with other fellow small business owners. We also have instilled in our business growth plan to hire above minimum wage and provide our employees with benefits including health insurance and paid time off. At this time, we are able to provide our employees with three paid holidays and all are paid at least one dollar above minimum wage. It is our goal to be able to provide our employees with a livable wage and the benefits to ensure a quality of life we are all entitled to.
What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
The grant would do so much for our business. As of today, we own the business outright and are very reluctant to take a loan to help with growth. The grant in part would be used to support a solid marketing campaign to help continue our growth. The marketing campaign would consist of advertising across multiple platforms including radio, print and internet. We would continue to develop our online presence by investing in a website, and enhance our social media.The grant would also allow us to invest further in our existing employees by accelerating our timeline to provide health insurance and a livable wage. Lastly, we would purchase equipment including but not limited to a tractor, a dump kit for one of our trucks, and other small handheld equipment such as leaf blowers, etc. Lastly, we would work on developing property to create a store front.
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 goals are for the next one to two years include expanding our part time crew that currently works three days a week to five days a week by this fall. Our second goal is to increase profit by decreasing certain operating costs including how our materials are purchased. This would involve negotiating a better price point with our current suppliers, which in turn would be invested in our employees. Our third goal for the next two years is to increase sales by twenty percent through a strategic marketing plan that would open up two new markets we are currently not in; water gardens and vegetable gardens. The revenue generated from the increased sales would be used support the first two goals. Our long term goals are to develop a store front which clients can visit by using property we own, adding another crew in three years, and increasing our service area by 15 miles.
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