Lockdown opportunities unlocked for a commercial tiling business

On Time Developments

Andrew Wallace hails from solid small business owner stock. His father worked for himself, so for as long as Andrew can remember – that was what you did.

Note: Prospa’s Back to Business Loan supported by the Government’s Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme is only available until 30 September 2020. 

“I’ve never actually had a boss,” he says with a chuckle that reminds you even in such strange and unusual times as the COVID-19 pandemic, a positive attitude is one of the things that can see you through in business.

Andrew’s Melbourne commercial pool tiling business On Time Developments, which he runs with business partner Lee Stevenson, is one of a handful of businesses that found exciting new opportunities opening up during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Despite many of his commercial clients – aquatic centres and large commercial pools – being forced to cease operations for an extended period, many have seen the closure as an opportunity to do much-talked about (and often long overdue) renovations.

So Andrew and his team of 30 have been busier than ever.

Be what the customer needs, not what they want

Andrew’s business philosophy is simple: “Be a one-stop shop for anybody who calls”. This customer-oriented approach, along with a commitment to providing the best quality equipment and top-level service, has stood his company in good stead for 25 years.

“You need to set up your business around something people NEED, not something they WANT,” says Andrew. Adopting that approach, and doing it well, Andrew has found that customers just keep coming back.

In fact, before COVID-19 hit, On Time Developments had reached the point where a customer would think “we need to get our pool fixed” and because they trust Andrew and his team would do a good job, and do it in good time, they often wouldn’t bother getting another quote.

While a good reputation and happy customers are every business owner’s dream, the prospect of a tidal wave of work came with a range of challenges.

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money

On Time Developments uses only the highest quality materials imported from Germany, and there is only so much stock on hand in Australia at any one time. So, with the sudden influx of additional job opportunities, Andrew needed to order extra stock from overseas.

Which in turn meant paying for it up front.

“Getting funds can be a long, drawn-out process,” Andrew lamented, thinking back to times past.

Andrew initially approached one of the major banks to discuss funding opportunities but found the process just too hard. He could see it taking up to 6 weeks and felt the amount of paperwork required was overwhelming.

“You want someone to have a look at your business and say I think we can do it or I don’t think we can do it,” says Andrew.

Time is money

For a small business like On Time Developments, time is money. And when it comes to finance, Andrew says: “I need to know quickly so I can look elsewhere or maybe not take on that extra job.”

And so, recalling a radio ad he’d heard one morning, he approached small business lender Prospa to apply for a Back to Business Loan supported by the Government’s Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme. Prospa worked closely with Andrew and his bookkeeper – and got him a decision in 24 hours.

Not only did the funds allow him to take on the extra jobs, he could get on with starting sooner. Plus, no repayments for the first 6 months under the Back to Business Loan gives him some extra breathing space.

“I couldn’t believe how quick the turnaround was,” he says. “I was really impressed.”

Now, with 18 months’ work set in place, Andrew is relieved and On Time Developments is thriving.

“We’ve got 30 employees and having all those guys look up to you feels good. It is great to look back and realise you helped that person buy a house or a car or put their kids through school.”

“I can see this won’t be a one-time thing,” Andrew says about his relationship with Prospa (who he is already referring to as a “silent business partner”). He looks forward to working with Prospa again as his business continues to flourish in this most unlikely of times.

A Prospa Back to Business Loan helped Andrew and On Time Developments to:

  • Confidently and quickly say “yes” to 18 months’ worth of extra work.
  • Pay upfront for the stock which needed to come from Germany.
  • Get on with business knowing he didn’t have to make loan repayments for 6 months under the Back to Business Loan, as part of the Government’s Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme.

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