November 3, 2015 By Suzanne Robertson

Right before an upscale wedding in the Washington DC area, the bride was distraught. The pies she had ordered instead of a traditional wedding cake didn’t arrive. What would the newlyweds serve their guests?

See if you pre-qualify!

Enter small business owner Danielle Rozier. She was able to save the day by getting fresh pies and other desserts delivered on time.

This is just one example of how a busy mom and small business owner is wowing her clients.

Rozier is the CEO/Principal of Savory Gourmet Catering that serves the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland areas. Already established, she wants to expand her business, buy new equipment and add staff.

Danielle's story is one in our series of "Customer Success Stories." We introduce businesses that have worked with SmartBiz Loans to secure a low-cost SBA loan. If you're a small business owner seeking growth, check out SmartBiz Loans. Read on for the story of Savory Gourmet Catering's success.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Rozier has earned a degree in Culinary Arts and Hotel and Restaurant Management. Rozier wanted to start a business after graduation but was sidetracked when she got married and started a family.

Four years ago, she decided to give her own business a try.

“I woke up one day and grabbed some recipes and a picnic basket. I went out and started giving tastings and then word-of-mouth got me going. I started booking weddings, parties and corporate events.”

At first, her venture was self-financed. She spent about $1,500 for required paperwork. When she needed additional funds, she applied for a business credit card with a large bank.

“When I was approved, I thought “Oh my gosh – this is real – I am a business owner.”

Even though the interest rate was high, the available money helped her pay vendors up front and form important relationships.

Unfortunately, the fees and interest payments cut into her cash flow. She looked around at other funding options but she didn’t find the right fit. In the meantime, her business began to grow.

“I used the relationships I built to become a full-service organization. In addition to the food, I book photographers and DJs, get all of the tables and linens and anything else a client needs.”

More services meant more events, more vendors and more staff. Danielle needed additional funds to meet growing demand. She received a lot of notices about getting a small business loan but rates and fees were always too high.

Like many seeking an SBA loan, Danielle came across SmartBiz through Sam's Club Business Lending Center where SmartBiz is offering member-exclusive savings of up to 20 percent on loan fees.

“I buy a ton of stuff from Sam’s Club and it felt like this was a more legitimate offer than others I’d come across. I did my research and started an application.”

Danielle logged onto the SmartBiz website on September 17th and her $50,000 loan was funded on October 26th. She has already put the loan funds to good use by paying off that high interest credit card. Her next business decision was an equipment purchase.

“I was renting out trucks every weekend. I just bought a used van for $900 so I’m saving a ton of money every month.”

Other uses for the funds will help her operation run more smoothly, leaving her time to pursue new business.

“Thanks to the loan, I can purchase software that will help with event logistics and venue layout. The cost for both is over $2,000. I didn’t have cash flow available for that expense until now.”

Danielle would “absolutely” recommend SmartBiz to other small business owners looking for low cost funding. She especially liked working with Liz, a SmartBiz Relationship Manager.

“Liz never acted as if I was just another number. She got to know me and my business. I felt the warmth.”

She was also very happy with the SmartBiz online process.

“I’m a big fan of systems that are fast and easy. It was great that I was guided through each step.”

Danielle says that the hardest part of owning a business is being a “one man band” and doing everything herself. She hopes the new funding will take some of the load off.

“I want to hire a new full-time office person and create an environment where I can hand over the tools needed to get the job done.”

So far, her main marketing has been word of mouth. While that’s been successful, she wants to increase her reach by attending trade shows and advertising online.

What advice does she have for small business owners seeking an SBA loan?

“Have all of your paperwork in order. Don't be afraid and don't give up.”

Danielle is looking forward to the changes in her business thanks to additional funds.

“Every year, I give myself a goal then I look back and do an assessment. My goal this year was 25% new business. I hit that goal and brought in $250,000 last year. I’m excited to see what I can do in 2016."