Hearing feedback from our #Funded family is what makes us tick. Listening to the heartwarming stories of local Small Business Owners – how business funding has transformed their enterprises, boosted their bottom lines and allowed them to make a meaningful impact on their greater communities – never fails to leave us inspired to continue paving the way for the future of funding in the SME sector.
Chief Brand Officer, Erin Louw, sat down with Co-Director of Car Service City, Wendy MacDonald, to hear how Business Funding from Retail Capital saved their automotive business from the jaws of defeat, and has allowed them to not only survive, but thrive despite the odds.
ERIN: Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for taking the time to catch up with us today.
WENDY: Hi Erin, thanks so much for the opportunity!
ERIN: As we all know, the past year and a bit has been one of the toughest times for Small Business Owners and the South African economy as a whole. How was your business impacted?
WENDY: Our company was doing really well as a relatively new business until the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit. The biggest problem we faced, especially in the initial few weeks of hard lockdown, was that if we couldn’t trade, we simply wouldn’t have income. We were at a very high risk of being forced to close the company and retrench staff. We are first and foremost a family-run business, so a closure would mean no household income whatsoever for our family, making the threat really close to home.
ERIN: Spoiler alert: I know you managed to turn the ship around! How were you able to grow despite the challenges and take your business to the next level?
WENDY: Well, we initially approached just about every bank to secure funding so that we could at least support our staff while we waited on tenterhooks for things to return to normal, but no one would help us because we were still a fairly new business with a very limited credit history. We eventually heard about Retail Capital and they immediately offered to help! The application process was completely online, making it very simple to submit the required information without standing in line, endless printing or being limited to office hours. Within days, the money was in our account, meaning we could continue paying staff full salaries, and keep our doors open once trading resumed.
ERIN: That is amazing! What do you think has been your biggest success since acquiring funding?
WENDY: Not only were we able to keep all our staff and pay full salaries, we went on to hire two additional staff members! And due to the boost that allowed us to stay open and continue trading, we were able to bring in enough business to open a second branch, which was almost unheard of in 2020. Without Retail Capital, we simply would not have had the means to grab these opportunities. Out of 76 franchises nationwide, we have consistently ranked in the top 10, which was so motivating and uplifting for our team.
ERIN: That is so lovely to hear. Allowing our clients to not only achieve their business goals, but to also use their success to make an impact in their community is something that sits very close to hearts. How do you think business funding made an impact on your team and the broader community as a whole?
WENDY: I think Covid was a curveball for everyone, Business Owners and employees alike, so it was very important to us that we were able to create a sense of job security for our team, especially during the uncertainty posed by the pandemic, and thereby ensure that each household connected to our business could depend on at least one stable income.
ERIN: We conducted a number of surveys over the course of Lockdown, the latest of which revealed a surprising number of green shoots in the economy as it currently stands, illustrating the power held by local SMEs. Why do you think the automotive industry in particular has thrived despite the odds?
WENDY: I think that initially a lot of the essential services relied on transport, not only to render their services, but to also ensure staff were able to get to and from work safely and without disruption. We also saw a large upswing as soon as trade started to reopen across sectors, since people once again needed to service and repair their vehicles after standing for a number of months.
ERIN: I know you mentioned the ease of application you experienced when using our online Client Zone portal. Is there anything else that you think makes Retail Capital different from more traditional financial institutions?
WENDY: Oh my goodness, it was such a breeze! We went through countless loan applications through all the big banks and the amount of paperwork required, only to ultimately be unsuccessful upon submission of the application, was truly gut-wrenching. Retail Capital made the experience so quick and simple, and their customer service was unmatched. Even our payments are less complicated since they can be linked to our turnover, meaning we are never out of pocket.
ERIN: We are so glad you had a positive experience! I would like to know what you found to be the most profound lesson learned as a Business Owner during the past year?
WENDY: Definitely placing major importance on customer service. Being honest, open and upfront with customers really goes a long way, and we have found that customers really appreciate flexibility and compromise, especially during these difficult times. At the end of the day, if customers are impressed, they will recommend you, ultimately building your customer base. And the best part is that good customer service doesn’t cost a cent!
ERIN: Finally, I have to ask – would you recommend us?
WENDY: Absolutely! Yes!
ERIN: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Wendy. We are firmly in the business of assisting and facilitating the growth of the South African economy and we understand that local Business Owners like you are at the coalface in terms of making that a reality.
WENDY: Thank you! We really wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for Retail Capital.
ERIN: Any last words for other Business Owners out there?
WENDY: Without the risk, there is no reward! You need to think big to achieve.
Here, here, Wendy! Have you got a #FundingFeedback story that you’d like to share? Let us know and your business could be featured on our social media platforms!