When Louis Sherman stepped into Bristol’s grand Dominions House, he knew he’d found the business opportunity he and his partner, Lisa, had been looking for. With its rich heritage and prime position, this Grade II Listed Building was the perfect place to open an independent coffee house.
Meticulous market research proved his instinct was spot-on and the couple set to work on creating an ambience that was too good to resist: Dom’s Coffee House – the name a homage to its historic home. No surprise then that Dom’s soon became the go-to place for anyone wanting to swap the day to day grind for the more seductive roasted variety.
What did surprise them, however, was their bank’s unwillingness to support their business ambitions.
Finding funding was hard going
“We found that high street banks were reluctant to lend to start-ups with less than two year’s accounts; it’s the old ‘chicken and egg’ situation. I had a spotless record with my same high street bank for over 8 years, and they still said ‘no’.’”
But the couple weren’t taking no for answer.
“I think high street banks have all too rigid rules which prevented them from assessing our businesses impartially. So we shopped around for short-term finance solutions with competitive interest rates and picked Ashley Finance because we found that they were the best match for us.”
We were only too happy to help them realise their ambition: To grow Dom’s into a successful – and highly profitable – enterprise.
Funding that worked for them
As with any business, cash flow is key. We tailored a finance package that worked the way their business needed it to work. And it did.
“Funding from Ashley Finance meant we were able to employ the staff we needed and invest in growing the business. We developed the basement, created new office spaces and improved our stock control; we were also able to secure our alcohol licence, which was key to attracting nearby concert and theatre pre-show audiences into Dom’s.”
“It also gave us the necessary resilience in the months when business was slower than expected, as well as providing essential boosts to pursue market opportunities quickly.”
With an abundance of glowing online reviews, it’s fair to say that plaudits hailing Dom’s as a ‘shining star’ and ‘outstanding’ could equally be applied to Louis and Lisa’s business savvy.
Going from strength to strength
Now in their second year of trading, they’re ready to embark on the next stage of their growth strategy:
“We’re looking to increase our market share leading to higher customer volumes. It’s a challenge, not least because we’ve just had a baby, but what’s essential to us is maintaining that great ‘Dom’s’ experience’ as our business grows, ensuring that our customers not only return, but also recommend us to their friends and family. Dom’s is a constant cycle of analysis and improvement. Every day we’re thinking about how we can increase our customer appeal”.
For us, Louis and Lisa are a shining example of business people who know what they want. And more importantly, how to get it. Like many small and early stage businesses they couldn’t get the funding they needed from a High Street Bank. But like the hundreds of businesses we help day in, day out they woke up and smelt the coffee. And found the right solution with alternative finance.
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