While working full time, Nadine Mackle and her husband both felt the pull to start a small business they could make their own.

“We wanted the flexibility of having our own business – something we could work around family and have as our own to build,” Nadine says.

So one night, over a glass of wine (or two), the couple put their heads together to see where their skills could take them. From there, the idea for The Pool and Yard Man was born.

“My husband had been working in the pool industry for about five years at that stage, and I’d always had a bit of a background in business, so it just seemed like the natural progression,” she says.

The Pool and Yard Man’s service fleet hit the roads of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, in October 2014 with three offerings: lawn and garden maintenance; pool maintenance; and non-structural landscaping, like turfing.

“The idea is to help people save on hiring multiple trades, so somebody can have us come out and mow their lawn and service their pool at the same time,” Nadine says.

In the early days of the business, Nadine and her husband stored their equipment and tools at the family home to keep costs down. However, as business started to pick up and life events came over the horizon, they realised it was time to investigate alternatives.

Hear more about Nadine’s story:

Two birds, one stone

Their operating area has no shortage of swimming pools and lush lawns, and Nadine says the business really took off. As it grew, they began to think about what else they could offer their customers and the community.

This thought process coincided with another major life event: moving into a new house. The pair finished building their first home in mid-2019, and it was a smaller residence than the property they occupied when The Pool and Yard Man was founded. This meant they needed to find some extra storage space, and fast.

“We quickly realised we were going to have an issue with storing our equipment and other bits and pieces,” Nadine says.

As they began the search for a warehouse, an idea crystallised in their minds about how they could help grow the business.

“As we were going around and having a look at warehouses, we thought, ‘You know what? Maybe we should find somewhere that we can have a small portion of it set aside for retail’,” she says.

“It was part of the 10-year plan to add the retail side, but the opportunity came much sooner than that. We started thinking about what we needed to do to get that started, and the first thing was funds.”

They didn’t want to borrow from friends or family, Nadine says, because “it’s our journey and we need to accomplish this ourselves”.

On the advice of a broker, Nadine contacted Prospa for help with securing a small business loan. One of Prospa’s small business lending specialists guided her through the application process, which she says was simple and straightforward. Once she was approved, it was only a matter of hours before money was in their account.

“I explained to Prospa what we wanted to achieve and how much we needed to borrow, and it was about 24 hours between that conversation and being told it was all sorted and the funds would be transferred that day,” Nadine says.

Her experience of getting a home mortgage with a traditional bank versus accessing a small business loan through Prospa “was like night and day”.

“It was a breath of fresh air to deal with Prospa and a completely different experience,” Nadine says.

“There were only two or three weeks between making that call to Prospa, getting the warehouse space, doing the full fit-out and opening shop,” Nadine says.

The extra mile for customers

Nadine says adding the retail component, and offering a variety of pool and yard maintenance products for sale, has really elevated their brand perception and recognition within the community.

“I don’t know what it is, but when we opened our bricks-and-mortar store people’s mindset about our business really changed,” she says.

“It feels like we’re out there competing with the big guys, and it’s given us more buying power, which means we can bring better prices and products to our customers.”

The business experienced a period of growth off the back of these additions, and an extension on their Prospa Small Business Loan helped them cover the cost of hiring another employee, bringing The Pool and Yard Man’s total staff to three full-time team members and one casual.

“We were at that point where we needed to put on another staff member, so it just allowed us to make the transition with a buffer in place,” she says.

Right now, Nadine says she is very much in a growth mindset. Her wish list for the next few years includes opening another retail location and increasing The Pool and Yard Man’s on-road fleet of service vehicles.

The biggest thing she’s looking forward to is being able to offer that extra bit of value to customers and the community, whether that’s in the form of expanded services and retail options, jobs for locals or trusted advice for the DIYers out there in the form of a lawn and garden blog.

“Without Prospa there’s no way we would have been in a position to expand our business like we have,” Nadine says.

“It’s given us the foundation to be able to expand further in the future as well.”

A Prospa Small Business Loan helped Nadine and The Pool and Yard Man to:

  • Expand their business offering by adding a bricks-and-mortar store.
  • Purchase and fit-out an equipment warehouse.
  • Hire additional staff and look at future expansion.