Kimberly Beckford’s father was retiring from a lifetime in the cleaning industry when he was presented with an independent cleaning contract prospect from his employer. Beckford, who was unsatisfied with her current job as a university fundraiser, saw an opportunity to take a chance. Beckford and her father won the contract and co-founded commercial cleaning company OZGLO in the winter of 2002 with funds from her father’s retirement. Based in Connecticut, OZGLO currently maintains cleaning service contracts with several local schools.
“We had to be fully operational in weeks, and neither one of us knew anything about running our own cleaning business,” Beckford says. “We had to stumble a lot—pull together friends for staff and go through the yellow pages and try to figure stuff out.”
Startup costs were a challenge. “We didn’t know what to expect,” Beckford recalls. “But we knew if we had a little bit of seed money, that would carry us and help us get a few pieces of equipment—vacuums, cleaning carts and t-shirts.”
Kimberly Beckford, Owner of OZGLO Cleaning Company
Beckford quickly discovered that her biggest problem was meeting payroll. The demand for her company’s services rose and fell because of seasonality while the cost of materials steadily increased. Her cash flow was constantly in flux.
She ran into serious issues in 2009 when the economy collapsed and she lost smaller clients who wanted to take cleaning services in-house.
“With our largest client, we had a 30 percent cut to our account, which left us short $5,000 every month,” she recalls. “I had to figure out how I was going to make up $5,000 a month.”
The recession demonstrated to Beckford that her clients wouldn’t always appreciate the cost of cleaning services, which meant she always needed to be prepared with backup funds.
“We’ve had to battle that before, and it’s still a challenge,” she says. “It’s been very difficult to pitch business services to a person or company that doesn’t place the same value on what you do.”
Even after the recession, Beckford’s company frequently came up short on cash. Too often, she had to ask immediate family for loans or turn to cash advances.
“I can remember a cycle where our reserves had been tapped so badly that we had twice as much money in arrears as we normally had,” she says.
It got to a point where timing invoices to meet payroll was so difficult that Beckford desperately needed a new solution. That’s when she discovered Fundbox through an ad on Facebook. Fundbox advances the full value of your invoice, and funds are available in your bank account the next day. These advances help business owners cover obligations like payroll and rent while they wait on payments to roll in. The unlocked cash flow can also help more enterprising entrepreneurs take on new projects and growth opportunities.
“My immediate thought was who in the world was going to take a chance on a business that’s so financially fragile?” Beckford remembers.
Even though she was skeptical, she figured she’d give it a shot. She was amazed when she was granted Fundbox Credit and used it right away to clear payroll.
“It’s real money in the account, and I can pay people while I wait for checks to come in,” Beckford says. “It’s been an amazing lifesaver.”
Now Beckford uses Fundbox in conjunction with Freshbooks to manage her cash flow. She covers her payroll and other expenses and no longer has to ask friends and family for help and extra funds.
“It’s good to know I have a viable financial resource that I’m very comfortable with,” says Beckford. “It gives me a sense of hope and encouragement to watch our credit grow with Fundbox.”
Beckford’s larger goal is to stabilize her business and to make some major equipment purchases and upgrades. She plans to use Fundbox to minimize her stress levels while she moves forward.
“Seeing where I started compared to where I am right now with Fundbox is mind-blowing.”