Twenty years ago, Ozzie Calzada came to the United States from his native Cuba seeking a better life. Upon arrival, Ozzie found a job in hospitality as a chief engineer and over the next few years, he worked his way up to head of maintenance for an upscale hotel in Miami. When the hotel was sold, the new owners offered Ozzie a position, but instead he chose to take an offer from a friend who owned a ServPro cleaning and restoration franchise. Since Ozzie had extensive experience in many aspects of not only maintenance, but also customer service, he quickly proved himself as his friend’s right hand man. Within six months, Ozzie was sent to the ServPro corporate training center to learn the ins and outs of day-to-day operations.
It soon dawned on Ozzie that he could run his own operation, and he started the application process to become a ServPro franchise owner himself. “When I first came to this country, it was a whole different world. In Cuba, it was almost unheard of to dream of owning a home, let alone a business. But I started to have the dream and worked to make it happen,” says Ozzie.
It didn’t take too much to convince his wife, Vivian Toledo, that they could be successful entrepreneurs. In January 2005, after bootstrapping with savings, a second mortgage, and investment from some friends and family, Cleaning & Restoration Corp. opened for business as a ServPro franchise.
ServPro corporate provided initial equipment financing for the new business owners who had excellent personal credit. The initial loan of $58,000 was for a five (5) year term and was paid back on time and in full. Over the next ten years, Ozzie and Vivian bought and financed new equipment through the corporate program multiple times with no incident.
In 2015, the pair had new aspirations—to qualify for certification as a “Large Loss” ServPro franchise. This would allow them to take on much larger commercial projects of $200,000 and up singlehandedly instead of being required to share with other franchises. Not only did they need to buy additional equipment, but the business also needed to have a very large line of credit open and available for immediate use, according to the corporation’s requirements for consideration. When working with their accountant to get their ducks in a row to start the application process, they learned that even though they have had multiple loans with no late payments, the loans were privately financed through ServPro and weren’t reported to credit agencies. This meant that the company’s business credit was not growing and in fact, was pretty low in comparison to their personal credit scores. And this posed a problem.
It is very unlikely for small businesses with low credit scores to receive financing from traditional banks. Banks don’t like to lend to small businesses with low credit. Despite Cleaning & Restoration Corp.’s spotless repayment record and a number of loans with ServPro, they weren’t able to find traditional financing. Ozzie and Vivian needed to build their business credit, buy new equipment, and open a line of credit.
The solution? Financing the next round of equipment with a lender that would work with a business that was profitable but had low credit scores and that didn’t charge an arm and a leg. Fortunately for Ozzie and Vivian, their accountant knew a third- party loan broker who recommended Dealstruck, an online lender specializing in helping small businesses find capital when they otherwise can’t get loans from traditional banks.
Working with their Dealstruck lending specialist, Ozzie and Vivian were able to secure a term loan of $60,000 for equipment and a revolving credit line of $50,000 to start. They are continuing to work toward the Large Loss certification, and the loans are making it possible for the company to comply with the requirements. In addition, the credit line is coming in handy to help with cash flow. “Sometimes we get multiple jobs, one on top of the other, and insurance companies are often very slow to pay for the jobs we do. But I need to pay my 20 employees on time so the line of credit allows me to meet payroll while I’m waiting on my invoices to be paid. It’s very helpful.”
Cleaning & Restoration Corp.’s ServPro franchise continues to grow and expand, and Dealstruck is thrilled to be a part of Ozzie and Vivian’s story.