Three years ago, when her husband Mark passed away unexpectedly, Tricia Sutliffe inherited 30 employees, a fleet of vehicles sorely in need of upgrades and a company she didn’t know much about. With her slow season quickly approaching, Tricia needed to find a way to sustain her business, or it was going to be a long, cold winter for Finger Lakes Limousine.
A hairstylist by trade, Tricia tackled a steep learning curve after she inherited Finger Lakes Limousine. “I took over the company knowing some things, but not really knowing enough,” Tricia says. “I learned fast—some the easy way and some not so easy.”
As she picked up the intricacies of the limousine business, Tricia realized she needed help to address her cash flow. “My checking account was looking a little low,” she says, “and I’d just purchased a vehicle and I put some money down on it, and I was like, ‘UGH!’” So she went looking for a way to bridge that cash flow gap.
With a fleet of 14 vehicles ranging from motor coaches to limousines and luxury sedans, Finger Lakes Limousine has been serving Central New York and other select events around the country—including 7 Super Bowls and 11 Kentucky Derby races—through professional chauffeur services since 1991.
“During the winter months, there are less wine tours and weddings,” says Tricia. “But the payments and payroll are still the same.” She needed a way to bridge the cash flow gap.
Looking to keep the company’s cash flow high enough to cover payroll and meet her obligations, Tricia’s search for funding kept running into dead-ends. “It was difficult,” she says, “because I was viewed as ‘a new business owner’ who didn’t have ‘business credit.’” Though the company had been founded by her family, every business document was in her husband’s name, and the banks refused to count that toward the company’s financial reputation under new management.
The Right Funding From the Right People
Tricia approached several financing companies, but the numbers didn’t align with her needs. Eventually, she began working with business advisor Ryan Stoops and funding administrator Amber Thomas at Fast Capital 360, and they were able to connect her with the financing Finger Lakes Limousines needed. “Ryan worked with the numbers and it’s got me through.”
Since the initial round of funding, Finger Lakes Limousine has worked with Fast Capital 360 3 different times. “I work in the customer service business,” Tricia says, “you want to work with someone that’s pleasant. Ryan’s pleasant; Amber’s pleasant. A lot of it is customer service.”
Going and Growing
By taking out a merchant cash advance, Tricia was able to pay her employees on time, add new vehicles to her fleet while maintaining others, and invest in marketing to drive more business.
“The funding helped me immensely with the basic necessities of running our transportation company, as well as keeping our employees working,” Tricia says. “Fast Capital decided to give me a chance, and I have successfully been using your company now for almost 2 years for additional funding when needed. Thank you.”
Looking Down the Road
“It has been a hard road to travel,” Tricia says, “but I am grateful I have a fantastic staff to help me keep this company going and growing.” Her goals for her company are simple: To keep offering professional, luxury transportation; regularly upgrade a few vehicles at a time; and continue in this business, “as long as it will have me.”
Today, she’s exploring ways to purchase the building Finger Lakes Limousines occupies. “I’ve paid for this building twice now, with the rent that I’m paying,” she says. Between partnering with a friend or giving Ryan and Amber a call, she is keeping all of her options open.