Sarasota Native Fulfills a Local Need Within the Community
Sailor Girl Transport of Sarasota County
In 2017, clinician Jeanine Johnson recognized an unfulfilled need within her community that she felt called to resolve. She noticed that the demand for non-emergency medical transportation was higher than what was available.
With her medical background and her desire to diminish this problem, Johnson decided to start Sailor Girl Transport, a service that offers high-quality transportation to various destinations for ambulatory, wheelchair, elderly, and disabled patients within Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Through the process of creating the business, Johnson realized she needed some outside assistance. That’s when she reached out to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida.
“I had never started a business, and I needed some guidance as far as my business plan, and some business management advice,” Johnson said. “So, I reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF, and they helped me develop my business plan as well as giving me lots of mentorship.”
Shortly after connecting with the Florida SBDC at USF, Johnson met Scott Carpenter, a business consultant who specializes in marketing branding and strategy.
“Originally, when I worked with the Florida SBDC at USF, I was the driver, the owner, and the operator of Sailor Girl Transport,” Johnson said. “Through the consultation of my mentor Scott Carpenter, I was able to hire two additional drivers and develop my business plan. I also received information about some of the federal programs. I was a recipient of the PPP loan, and I was able to grow to three full-time drivers. So now, we have four full-time employees and I have been able to retain them, so we are very grateful for that.”
Because Sailor Girl Transport began operating in 2020, COVID-19 did have an impact on the business, but Johnson says she reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF at just the right time.
“Right when I reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF, it was just before COVID hit this area,” she said. “It was very hard, however, my mentor Scott helped me with everything I needed. It was very slow in the beginning, but we just stayed the course. We developed a business plan, and eventually things started to come back.”
Despite the ups-and-downs she and her business have faced thus far, Johnson is proud of how far she’s come in working with the Florida SBDC at USF and looks forward to future expansion.
“Moving forward, I will use the mentorship, the marketing advice, and the additional resources and programs that are still being developed,” Johnson said. “It helps me meet the needs of our local community. I feel as though I’m not quite ready to walk away from my consultant so I’m definitely going to continue working with the Florida SBDC at USF, more specifically, with my mentor Scott.”