Nurse Sue Bailey has been a caring person all her life. So, when her family suggested she open a care facility, she did. Twice.
“My cousin had started a small place that she ended up expanding. It was a wonderful place. For years, she encouraged me to do it,” she said.
When she neared retirement, Sue and her husband Charles decided to try it. They found a large home on 2.5 acres in Cobb County suitable for an assisted living facility, got licensed to serve eight people, and opened for business.
“We catered to women who liked to be pampered and could afford the extra care,” said Sue. “We gave them a lot of TLC. It was very successful.”
In 2015, Sue’s daughter Janna, also a nurse, married Greg Webb. When she moved to their new home, Sue, Charles, and Sue’s son Jason West and his family decided to move near them.
Jason and his wife Tonya found jobs in Rome and moved first. Almost a year later, the Baileys had sold their business, Sue retired from her part-time hospital job, and they moved to Cave Spring to enjoy their second retirement.
“We didn’t talk too much about opening another place, never,” said Sue. “One day our daughter, who was commuting to Summerville, said, ‘Why don’t you open another place and let me run it for you?’”
Sue decided to open a new assisted living facility licensed for 24 residents, one that would be large enough to employ her children. She would leave it as their legacy.
“It took two years to plan it,” said Sue. “That’s when I found out about the UGA SBDC office in Rome. I made an appointment, and Matt helped me through the whole process. He’s been completely involved since then.”
Sue met with consultant Matt Pearce. She had identified a property and sought his assistance in obtaining financing to construct the new $1 million facility.
“Sue was able to base her financial projections on her experience with the earlier business,” said Pearce. “She had a good feel for her staffing requirements and cash flow, but she wanted some assistance in talking to the architects and builders for her business plan, as that was new to her.”
Cave Spring Manor opened the summer of 2015 with financing by the SBA 7A loan Pearce had aided Sue in obtaining. By January 2016, the facility was licensed and accepting its first residents. As its resident base grew, Janna quit her job to manage operations, and Jason became the business manager, on a part-time basis. Greg, a lieutenant with the Cave Spring Police Department, helps in his off time.
Staffing peaks at 10 full-time and 10 part-time, depending on occupancy. The business was profitable within its first four months of operations.
Pearce continues to provide ongoing business and marketing support. He has helped the family learn how to use analytics and SEO to improve their website. The Webbs have also attended the SBDC GrowSMART® program, a dynamic five-week program where they learned to identify company goals and apply strategies to achieve them.
“Sue’s experience was very helpful,” said Pearce. “She wanted it to be a nice facility, better than average, but not the Taj Mahal. She had a realistic vision of what could be done and scaled it down to fit within her budget.”
Pearce recently helped Sue develop a financial package to obtain refinancing for her original SBA 7A loan, to reduce her debt-service requirements. “After most new businesses get 2-3 years in, and have a positive cash flow and sales trend, they may then refinance with a more traditional commercial loan.”
In late August, Sue closed on her refinancing. The new loan reduces her debt service by $1,200 per month.
“With the SBDC, I learned it is important to have support and encouragement from the beginning. I knew enough about assisted living to do it again. But I couldn’t afford to do it by trial and error this time, because there was too much at risk,” said Sue. “It was a stressful ordeal, and Matt was there with us every step of the way.”