Before Dawn Plumitallo started her business, Kids First Evaluation and Advocacy Center, Inc., she was working at a pre-school that she didn’t think was run efficiently. “I thought, ‘I could do so much better than this.’”
She went on to open her own agency that assesses, diagnoses, and offers therapy for children with developmental delays. The goal is to help children achieve age appropriate development before they start Kindergarten. They have two centers where they offer services in a classroom environment.
Offering assessment and therapy service since 1997, as the owner of Kids First, Dawn has learned a lot about overcoming the challenges that come with building and growing a service-based business.
Challenge: You want to offer something different ─ and better.
Dawn wasn’t convinced that the way therapy services were traditionally delivered in homes was the best for her clients or her employees.
Solution: Set a new standard. She changed the way services were delivered, bringing both children and therapists into the office. The result was better, community-based, service.
Takeaway: Don’t be tied to how things have always been done. Follow your gut to find a better way.
Challenge: You need to staff-up to meet demand.
“Without a good consistent, dedicated staff, we are not a good agency,” Dawn shared. “You can have all the children in need, but if I don’t have the right person to service them and work with their family, and be flexible and agile, then I don’t have a business.”
Solution: Get creative with scheduling. Kids First has around 100 employees, but some may only work five hours a week, while others work 40. By being accommodating to therapists’ different schedules, Dawn has more flexibility and availability to match children to the professionals they need.
Takeaway: Your most important asset is your staff. Accommodating their schedules can create more opportunity in the long run.
Challenge: You need to communicate complicated information clearly and consistently.
When working with families, it can be hard to tell parents of young children what they want to hear vs. reality. To add to the confusion, school districts often talk in acronyms. “We act as translators for parents so that they can really understand what’s going on with their child.”
Solution: Training allows your staff to do it right the first time. Investing in training gives staff the tools they need to communicate clearly the first time. Having to go back to a customer and re-explain things is rarely a good experience.
Takeaway: Open and honest communication is key to building a solid customer relationship. Training your staff effectively can eliminate unnecessary back and forth.
Challenge: Your customers don’t always pay on time, creating cash flow gaps.
“The challenge for us, and why we’ve worked so well with Swift Capital, is when you work with municipalities, they don’t pay on time. Very often we’re waiting three to six months for reimbursement. We can get to the point where the county owes us, hundreds of thousands of dollars. It always comes, it’s just a matter of when.”
Solution: Have a back-up plan. Many service-based businesses will eventually run into this problem. They’ve done the work, but are waiting for payment. The best solution is to be prepared with a business funding option that can help you bridge the gap.
Takeaway: Whether it’s one time or ongoing, Swift Capital helps small business owners get funds quickly so they can prevent cash flow gaps.
Our mission at Swift Capital is to unleash the potential of every small business by providing them with fair and convenient access to working capital. We harness data and technology alongside personalized human expertise to see the true potential in every business. Did you like this post? Tell us what you’d like to see on our blog. Email us at [email protected]