Gabriel owns Green Dog Services, a business that specializes in pest control service. Gabriel, who has over seven years of experience in the pest control industry, launched his business in early May, 2011 after months of planning and preparation. The grand opening of his business is timely, as it marks the beginning of the summer season, the busiest time of the year for the pest control industry.
Born and raised in Mexico, Gabriel came to the United States 14 years ago. Before working in pest control, he worked for several years as a salesman in the music industry. This experience took him all over the state of Texas and Northern Mexico. From his accumulated experience, Gabriel half-jokingly says that if there is one thing he has learned about Americans, it is that they love good customer service. Knowing this, he sees excellent customer service as being as much a part of his business as the expertise he provides. He says that it is crucial to build and maintain customer relationships, because satisfied customers are the cheapest form of advertising. As he points out, someone can look up pest control companies in the phonebook, but they are most likely to work with a company recommended to them by a friend.
As a native Spanish speaker, Gabriel says that being bilingual is helping him find a niche for his business within the Hispanic community. “There is a lot of competition in this industry, but Hispanics are looking for someone they can speak Spanish with, and I think that helps me. I’m not the only one (who speaks Spanish), but I’m one of the only ones with his own company.” Though he wants to continue building relationships within the Hispanic community, he also wants to connect his business with the greater community. One way he is doing this is by going through neighborhoods, meeting people, and making them aware of the services he offers.
This loan from ACCION Texas-Louisiana helps Gabriel pay the necessary fees for registering his business. He says that the government has strict requirements for pest control, and that navigating through the paperwork can be as expensive as it is time-consuming. It is important that he be officially registered and certified so that he can offer all of his expertise. For example, he has yet to receive approval to treat termites, leaving him unable to provide one of the key services his business offers.
Aside from helping Gabriel receive all of the necessary certifications, this loan is helping him purchase business cards and launch a small marketing campaign. He wants to advertise his business in local newspapers and magazines. Gabriel has already undertaken a less expensive form of advertising by walking through neighborhoods and handing out business fliers. Before receiving this loan, Gabriel financed his startup costs with his personal savings and credit card.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.