When the COVID lockdowns hit back in 2020, Nick and Sharifa Ghionis’ award-winning photography business ground to a halt and, like most of the world, they were forced to sit and wait for the pandemic to run its course.
Only, Nick and Sharifa aren’t the waiting type.
When an opportunity presented itself for them to change course and add another string to their already impressive bow of successful businesses, they acted.
We sat down with Nick to talk about his and Sharifa’s experiences in the three years since Rooster & Co. opened their doors.
Establishing in turbulent times
Nick and Sharifa are no strangers to hospitality. Going back in Nick’s family are a string of successful chicken shops which regularly appear in the hallowed ‘top-10’ listings. Indeed, the couple even have their own hospitality venture under their belt with their former restaurant The Dark Room.
When COVID stymied their photography business, it only made sense for them to return to the familiar grounds of hospitality.
“We came across this shop and it was closed down. It was an old chicken shop and I was looking in it and my wife looked at me and she goes, ‘I know you’re thinking, just do it.’ And so we ended up going through the motions and opening this chicken shop right in the middle of stage four Covid.
“People thought we were crazy. But there was no other option for us. We didn’t want to just sit back and wait and see what happens.”
As with most hospitality businesses during COVID, things were far from ideal. A global shutdown which crushed many established venues, is up there with the riskiest times to try and start something new.
They knew they were in for a tough time.
Discovering Lightspeed Capital
“I don’t have to sit there and give you my firstborn just to get it. It’s been a godsend.”
For many businesses the early boom is something that, if managed correctly, can set you up to take the next steps in growing. But what if opportunities for such a boom were limited? What if, instead of enjoying what many other businesses took for granted, shutdowns and restrictions took it all away? Without the initial influx of trade, it’s difficult to build up the capital to be able to invest in growth.
“People say to me, ‘oh, you guys must have been killing it during Covid.’ Well, no. I think if Covid hit now, we’d be killing it because now we’re established and people know us. Back then no one knew anything about us. The slog has been hard.”Rooster & Co. turned to Lightspeed Capital to bridge that gap.
“It’s incredible. To go out and get an overdraft facility without having to jump through the crazy hoops that you need to do when you go through just to get a short term overdraft from the bank, I don’t have to sit there and give you my firstborn just to get it. It’s been a godsend.”
Data on-hand for easy approval
“It’s a one-stop shop.”
With the playing fields now levelled, Rooster & Co. are able to look ahead and grow, knowing that they have a reliable means to extra funds if cashflow does get a little tight in the future.
“I finished paying off the last (Lightspeed Capital advance) about three months ago and it was great. Using the data collected from Lightspeed, you can go backwards and go okay, back in November and December I had x amount of money coming in. This year, I’m already about 10% higher. I can probably afford to take x amount now, which I did. It’s a one-stop shop.”
With all of their systems communicating with each other, the process of approval for funding is streamlined. Thanks to Rooster & Co. using Lightspeed Payments, there’s no gathering of documentation to prove their earnings because the data is already there for all parties to see—everything is transparent.
“I can’t cheat, you know? Lightspeed can see I’m taking a certain amount of money consistently for a period of time. I don’t have to prove to Lightspeed I’m good for it.”
Improving with Lightspeed Payments
But Nick and Sharifa’s systems didn’t always communicate so seamlessly. It wasn’t until they switched over to Lightspeed Payments that all of the pieces began to fit together and Rooster & Co. was able to keep striving towards realising their full potential.
“People do not like change, particularly when it comes to something as important as taking money from customers, that is scary. So when (my account manager) followed up with me because I didn’t want to do it, he said, ‘you don’t have to pay for this because it’s part of your package.’ This is a no brainer.”
“Once I made the change, it was like, why didn’t I take that offer up earlier? I haven’t looked back since.”
Equipped for the future
With their business now firmly established, Nick and Sharifa are looking forward to exploring what Lightspeed can do to help them increase their profitability and continue to grow.“There’s a lot more now for us to be able to measure our inventory and our wastage, and I think that’s our next goal. It is something that I’m looking forward to using. I want to make sure that I have systems put in place to really measure exactly what we are, where we’re bleeding, where we’re not bleeding, particularly when it comes to the cost of goods with inflation. The cost of living is going through the roof.”
These systems make the day-to-day running and keeping track of their business easier, to enable Nick and Sharifa to keep their COGS in check and ensure that they’re not losing revenue that doesn’t have to be lost.
But trade is a fluid entity, subject to change at a moment’s notice. That’s where Lightspeed Capital can help.
“So I’ve used it (Lightspeed Capital) once and it really helped me go through the motions. I’m using it again.”
With Lightspeed Capital, repayments are based on your business’ earnings so you’ll never be handcuffed by unrealistic repayments. In fact, there’s no repayment schedule at all. Everything (including the flat fee) is paid back via a percentage of your daily sales and once the balance is settled, you’re free to go again. No credit checks, no compounding interest rates, just quick access to funds delivered straight into your bank account.
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