The past two years have been challenging for many businesses, small and large. So when I heard that Ted Dennard’s Savannah Bee Company expanded from wholesale into bricks-and-mortar retail with its first store in the Fall of 2008, and then went on to achieve 33 percent growth in 2009, I had to ask him how he did it. His answer came in three parts: tenacity, optimism, and flexibility.
Tenacity: Ted started as a beekeeper, selling honey to local stores. Eventually, national stores started calling him, and in 2002, he incorporated the company. He called his early business strategy “trial by fire”: “In the beginning, I put everything into it, money, time, sweat, equity. I thought if it fails, it won’t be because I didn’t do everything I could. Dogged tenacity is what I’d call it.”
Optimism: “I have an innate quality of being ridiculously optimistic. I always think things will work out for the best, and that’s helped me to get through. As an entrepreneur you need that because things always take a lot longer and are more complex than you expect them to be. But once they pay off, it’s so worth it.”
Flexibility: “Nothing is going to turn out exactly the way you envisioned, so you need to remain flexible and open to new opportunities that arise. We didn’t expect to have the opportunity to purchase a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse when we did, especially when it was at the same time we were opening our first store. Of course it ended up taking longer for each, and the expenses were higher, creating our worst year for cash flow. But we got through it, and even made it into the Inc. 5000 that same year. So we’re doing pretty well.”
I asked Ted how Savannah Bee was able to manage the strain on cash flow, and he credited the flexibility of the PLUM Card. “We’ve always used the Platinum Card for as many charges as possible, including all of our shipping. We’ve loved using the points for travel to trade shows. But in the past year, we used our PLUM Card more so we could take advantage of the extended payment option.”* He’s now analyzing the benefits of the two Cards to determine which one benefits his bottom line the most.
Given the fact that Ted has recently opened a second and third store, launched a new website, and plans to open more stores and expand internationally in the future, I hope to speak with him again soon to share more of his story.
If you have a story about using your Card to manage cash flow that you’d like to share with OPEN Forum, e-mail me at email@example.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @marcyshinder, and follow OPEN Forum @openforum.
For more information on Ted Dennard (Cardmember since 1993) and Savannah Bee Company, visit http://www.savannahbee.com.
* If you pay at least 10% of the balance from new activity on your billing statement plus the entire amount of any previously deferred payment or amounts past due by the Please Pay By date on that statement, you may defer payment of the remainder of that balance until the closing date of your next billing cycle without penalty.