Entrepreneurship is in Shannon’s blood. His father worked as a contractor in the transportation industry and his mother was also an entrepreneur for several years.
Before operating Valet Transportation, a wheelchair and non-emergency transportation business, Shannon compared the necessities and possible risks with his family’s experience. A graduate from The University of Texas at San Antonio, Shannon says, “My father and I felt confident that we would be successful.”
In May 2012, Shannon and his parents began the business, offering reduced rates and “increased quality care.” He says because they have a small number of clients and one van, he and his family can offer more personalized customer service.
Valet Transportation doesn’t have a website or social media page but runs completely off word of mouth and direct marketing. “We have an agreement with nursing homes and an emergency transportation business which calls us when they have overflow,” Shannon says.
A client can pay $200 to $300 for a stretcher van, which is how most emergency vehicles work, since they may not be equipped with wheelchair harnesses or ramps. His company charges $80 round-trip in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) certified van equipped with wheelchair necessities.
Shannon found out about Accion Texas Inc. six years ago during a UTSA seminar about how to generate operating income. “I never deleted that number from my phone,” Shannon says. The loan will repair the van and be used as cash flow. “We bill the nursing homes and they take 30-90 days to get to us,” Shannon says. “Our invoices show we make a monthly profit, but we don’t see it until they pay.”
The loan eased the family’s financial worries and freed them to complete preventive maintenance. Shannon says, “We wouldn’t have been able to obtain more clients without these procedures. We would have had to wait two to three months before making that money ourselves.”
Valet Transportation also provides services to grocery stores, clinics, pharmacies and any other places their clients need to go. “Our service is a lot cheaper than calling a cab,” Shannon says. “Our clients rely on us instead of other means.”
Shannon’s goal is to purchase another van and employ two full-time drivers by summer 2013. Without the help of an Accion loan, Shannon would need to wait before extending services, and would have to pay out of pocket for daily operating expenses.
Shannon says, “I had a good experience with Accion. The rate we got was a lot lower than expected.”
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.