SCORE mentors often do more than just help their clients with the "how’s," "what’s" and "why’s" of starting a business. Sometimes they assist with the "wheres" as well.
Jeff Frank of Three Rivers, MI, discovered that quality when he first met with SCORE Volunteer Mentor Richard Ward, a retired management development expert. Jeff’s lifelong dream was to own his own automotive repair business. He had even left college for the opportunity to run a muffler shop in nearby Kalamazoo. But after 13 years in that job, Frank and his wife felt it was time for him to strike out on his own. That’s when a newspaper story led him to SCORE.
“SCORE is a great resource for anybody getting started in business. They can help you with just about anything.” says Jeff Frank.
Having extensive experience in managing an automotive repair shop, Frank had little difficulty preparing his business plan. But finding a suitable location to launch his dream was another matter. The equipment and regulatory requirements for such shops precluded many otherwise attractive locations. That’s when SCORE really came through for Jeff.
All it took was a little bit of rehabilitation, and Frank had the shop ready for his first customers. Although Michigan Exhaust and Brake opened for business on April 1, 2000, Jeff’s success is no joke. He has steadily built a solid customer base over the past year, and hopes to add a second employee this spring. "This is a great site," he says. "It’s perfect for what I wanted to do."
"We met with Mr. Ward for about an hour, and he was very interested in what I wanted to do," Frank recalls. "He showed us examples of business plans and explained what I’d need to put mine together."
"I was able to direct Jeff to a nice piece of city-owned property that was previously used as an automotive maintenance garage," says Richard Ward. "Although the property was not actually on the market, the city was able to work with Jeff and sell him the property at an attractive price. The shop is located in a neighborhood that is on the upswing, and will surely accelerate in value."
Ward still checks in with his client from time to time to see how everything’s going. "I really appreciate Mr. Ward’s help in pointing me in the right direction,” Frank says. "If I have any other business-related problems or questions, I know who to call on. It’s good to know that this kind of service is available."