back from the ashes
relax the back
michael dean of relax the back
迈克尔·迪恩和他的“休闲产品”(relax the back)特许经营
photo by mike leeon dec. 6, 2006, the temperature in tulsa was hovering around 30 degrees, and the snowplows had just finished clearing out the parking lot of the eton square shopping center, where our relax the back store is located. then, one of our employees smelled smoke. a fire had started in a restaurant two units down from our store. while firefighters put out the blaze and there were no casualties, our unit--and much of our inventory, including beds, chairs, pillows and other ergonomic products--was destroyed from the water and soot.
照片由麦克·李(mike lee)拍摄于2006年12月6日。塔尔萨的气温在30度左右，清雪机刚刚清扫伊顿广场购物中心的停车场，即我们的“休闲产品”(relax the back)特许经营店所在地。这时，一个员工闻到了烟味。与我们相隔两家的餐厅起火了。尽管消防队很快扑灭了大火，并且没有人员伤亡，但是我们的存货，包括床、椅子、枕头等等，却因水泡和烟熏而损失殆尽。
then we went to work to save christmas. we negotiated with the landlord to take a new space in eton square, and over the next four days we moved all of the undamaged products there so we could reopen for customers. our four full-time employees--many of whom have been with me for years--and i worked in shifts to keep the store open despite the fact that we had no utilities and it was very cold. customers continued to come in off the street. we did our normal thing, and they almost didn't notice that there was all this mayhem going on.
we ended the month only 6 percent under our sales from the previous year. by 2009, our tulsa store had grown to the no. 2 store in the country. the season and the store were saved because of the relationships we've built. our employees and our customers stood by us and helped us rise from the flames.
thawing a credit freeze
we did everything right when my wife, beverly, and i bought our first shelfgenie franchise in late 2008. we had a solid business plan, a good cash flow and worked hard to get the word out. as a result, the richmond area's response to our customized glide-out shelving systems was so good that our 2010 sales were up 27 percent over 2009. the time was right to expand into three more locations, so we went to the banks for financing.
although our credit was good, we had double-digit increases year after year and they couldn't shoot holes in our business plan, we kept getting turned down. i spent a good five or six months talking to different banks. then, out of frustration, i asked the advice of someone who has been a mentor to me for about 10 years. he had been in the loop during this process, and when he looked at our business plan and track record more closely, he and his partner, who invest in businesses, decided to give us a line of credit to fund our expansion.
at first, i didn't want to take money from him; i wanted to do it on my own. but he really believed in the concept. while the 10 percent interest rate was higher than the 6 percent i would expect from a bank, we were able to structure it as an interest-only loan for the first year, which helps with our cash flow because the payment is lower. we expect our sales to be up 35 percent this year with the new locations, and i should be able to pay off the loan within five years. so, while we're paying higher interest, other aspects of the deal are actually better than what we could have gotten with a traditional loan from a bank.
tropical smoothie café
tropical smoothie cafe owners rich and paula studebaker.
热带冰品店(tropical smoothie cafe)所有者雷奇·斯图特贝克和宝拉·斯图特贝克(paula studebaker)。
photo by paul chin, jr.on a thursday night in february 2010, i was a month shy of celebrating the one-year anniversary of purchasing my tropical smoothie café franchise. that night, at the age of 38, i had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. my wife, paula, thought i was dying. at the same time, we had employees counting on us for their paychecks, and she knew she had to tend to that, too.
小鲍尔·秦摄影。2010年2月一个星期四晚上，距离我们的热带冰品店(tropical smoothie cafe)开业一周年只有不到一个月的时间。那天晚上，只有三十八岁的我居然中风了。很快，我被送到了医院;妻子宝拉甚至以为我要永辞人世了。员工们还要靠我们养家糊口，她知道自己必须接手了。
paula called both the tropical smoothie headquarters and our friend and attorney joel nied. while paula had no experience working in the franchise, it was our livelihood. over the next days and weeks, she worked with a tropical smoothie representative and joel to learn the business and keep it running.