Local vet living childhood dream after securing business loan
All About Amore’ of Hillsborough County
Since she was a little girl, Susan Mango always knew that one day she would become a veterinarian. Today she is living her dream after opening her cat-only veterinary hospital in July 2013.
Though she has a love for all animals, Mango said she decided to specialize in cats when she was in veterinary school and noticed that none of the other students wanted to deal with the cats that came in. So she stepped up, cared for them, and fell in love working with the furry felines.
After spending nine years working in other practices, Mango decided to open up her own. She said that she knew there was a certain quality of care she wanted to give her clients, and it was pertinent to open her own business in order to do so.
Though she received her bachelor’s degree in business administration, she turned to the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County for assistance starting her business.
“When I first started to open, yes I had a business background, but I didn’t know where to start,” Mango said. “I didn’t know what kind of permits I needed or what professionals I needed to surround myself with.” She found the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County online, not realizing the extent of what the organization had to offer.
She started with an initial meeting, where she was told to start building her team and getting her professional group of accountants and lawyers in order. She then started scouting locations for her practice. In the meantime, she took several classes, such as Introduction to Quickbooks, Getting Your Business Online and Marketing Your Business.
“The class I found most beneficial was business plan writing,” she said. “It was the most helpful because it came with a book, so even after I left, I could use the book as a resource. Writing a business plan would probably have been the hardest to do on my own.”
“But she was able to do it in a day,” Jennifer Biles added.
Biles is a consultant with the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County and specializes in business plans and marketing.
The business plan that Mango developed is what helped her secure a $300,000 loan. She said she had trouble at first because she was a start-up and no one seemed to want to take a chance.
After being turned down at Wells Fargo once, she found out that they had a division dedicated to dentists, physicians and vets, so she tried that avenue.
“With that business plan I was able to go to Wells Fargo; they have a practice finance division for medical loans, and I was able to get a loan from them, using the business plan,” Mango said.
She used the money to buy lab equipment and turn a shell of a commercial space into a vet hospital where she does everything from wellness exams and vaccines, to surgery, radiology and lab work.
After opening in 2013, she turned to Biles again looking for help marketing her business.
“I don’t want to age myself,” she said. “Jennifer showed me just how powerful social media, Facebook and all of that stuff is. Facebook is where the clients are and that’s how they want to connect.”
“It is easy to market when it involves pets,” Biles said. “People are crazy about their pets. So if you can relate to their heart, you can get them in.”
Mango said the marketing efforts have paid off. Since opening, she said that she has experienced 45 percent in growth and client visits are up 51 percent.
Right now Mango has one full-time employee and one part-time employee, however is currently looking to hire two part-time employees.
“I would encourage other small businesses to go to the Florida SBDC if they need help or do not know how to do something,” she said. “There is guaranteed to be someone there that specializes in what they are looking for. It is a wonderful resource, and I don’t think enough people know that it is out there.”