Mercedes (Polaschek) Steffes and her husband, Marc Steffes, received assistance from the Iowa Small Business Development Center at Iowa Lakes Community College in developing a business plan and financial projections so they could get financing to open two frozen yogurt shops in Northwest Iowa.
Mercedes and Marc moved back to Spencer, Iowa from Arizona and quickly recognized an opportunity to open a frozen yogurt business like the one they had frequented often in the Phoenix area. They first met with Kelly McCarty, Regional Director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Iowa Lakes Community College, in December 2011 to begin the process of developing a business plan and financial projections.
Many hours were spent by Mercedes and Marc researching the market, putting together information for financial projections, developing their business plan, and discussing financing with both a local bank and a revolving loan program. They went back to the SBDC for a review of their business plan and all the data they’d gathered.
With everything in order Mercedes and Marc were able to secure financing directly with Norwest Bank and, together with their own equity, they were able to purchase new equipment and inventory, make leasehold improvements, and provide funds for other costs and expenses. Their Spencer store, located at Gary’s On the River, opened in March 2012. The business is completely self serve, from the yogurt dispensers to the 40-plus toppings, which range from cereal and candy to fruit and nuts. The public has been extremely supportive of the new business and during the summer a front patio is opened for customers to sit and enjoy their treats while viewing the nearby river.
In February 2012 Mercedes and Marc decided they wanted to open a second location at Arnolds Park near Lake Okoboji, so they went back to the Iowa Small Business Development Center once more for help generating revised cash flow projections, updating their business plan, and some additional market research. The couple worked very hard remodeling and purchasing additional equipment and opened their second store in May 2012 at the Queen’s Court in Arnolds Park on Lake Okoboji. This seasonal shop is located on the lake front near the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in order to take advantage of the full tourist season.
The Spencer store currently employs an average of two full-time and four part-time employees. The Arnolds Park location, a seasonal operation, averages one full-time and five part-time employees. The Spencer store had great first year sales and so far sales in both stores have matched or exceeded projections.
Mercedes is very appreciative of the assistance provided by the Iowa Small Business Development Center saying, “The Small Business Development Center was a great help during the start up of our frozen yogurt business. Due to the plethora of information provided by Kelly McCarty we were able to put together our cash flow projections and business plan quickly and efficiently. We know if we ever decide to expand our business the SBDC will be there to answer any questions we may have.”
The business has a Facebook page as BonBon Frozen Yogurt, Spencer, Iowa – at https://www.facebook.com/BonBon.Froyo. Be sure to check out the daily specials. Yum!