North Port couple encouraged by business assessment results
Presto Air of Sarasota County
Bill Ginn has spent the last 20 years of his life in the air conditioning repair business. For the past five years, he’s done that while running his own small business with wife, Melissa. During that time, he’s learned a lot, including the fact that sometimes you have to reach out to others for assistance in growing your business.
“We started out as grassroots as they come,” Bill said of starting Presto Air, in North Port.
To start the business, Melissa said, “He traded in his [truck] for our first van and we scraped together $5,000 and just started saving.” Since then, they’ve invested their earnings back into the business and continue to remain mostly debt free. Even so, being caught up in the day-to-day operations makes it challenging to know how your business is really faring.
“To be brutally honest, I fixed air conditioners for 20 years,” Bill said. “I’ve never ran a business and have very little business sense. I was at a point to where me and Melissa had done everything we could to get the business where we wanted and we needed some outside help – someone to take a look at our business and see what we could improve upon because I wanted to take it to the next level.”
That’s where Ed Davis, a certified business consultant with the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, came in.
As active members of the community, Bill and Melissa participated in the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s Lunch and Learn Program, a monthly no-cost seminar series that attracts approximately 40 entrepreneurs eager to hear from various business experts on a variety of topics that can help them grow their business.
“That’s when we asked Ed to step in and take a look at our business to see what we could improve upon,” Bill said.
As part of the consulting services offered by the Florida SBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Presto Air underwent an in-depth business assessment, to see just how good or bad business is. The complete assessment was presented to the couple with recommendations for how to become even better.
When Davis presented the results of the assessment to Bill and Melissa, they were surprised at what he found. “I wasn’t up to speed and once you see it on paper, it’s nice to get that pat on the back that all the hard work is paying off and things are moving in the right direction,” Bill said. “Ed has taught us to rise up above the day to day and look at the long term goal and operations. Our business really does go by the weather and there’s a lot of peaks and valleys but when you can get a budget and see what direction you’re going in, you can see past the small bumps in the road.”
Hearing such good news has the couple focused on their future goals, which include adding another field employee to allow Bill to focus more on sales and marketing, and getting Melissa out of the office to network more. In the long-term future, the couple hopes to allow qualified employees to run the day to day operations of Presto Air, so they can enjoy life a little more.
“What I’ve learned about business is it’s kind of like a snowball running down the side of a mountain and we got this thing moving and it’s taken on a life of its own,” Bill said. “That’s where the SBDC comes in – to help us manage that snowball coming down the hill.”
Davis will continue his work with Presto Air. Most immediately, that will include continued work on the financial documents so that Melissa and Bill are able to decipher them on their own, and developing a budget for 2015.
“When you think someone is going to do a free service for you, most of the time they just dip their toe into the pool and then they sell you all the extras,” Bill said of the Florida SBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee services. “That’s not the case here.”
Bill is excited to move forward with the FSBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee by his side. “There’s nobody that’s perfect at this,” he said. “He’s given us the tools to point us in the right direction and go back after awhile and have a check up and make sure we’re still going in the right direction. It’s like having a free financial adviser.”