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Reliant Funding Case Study Q & A: The Little Dolphin School

Dec 18, 2017

B2B: A customized solution for an educational facility in need of upgrades and cash liquidity.

Background: The Little Dolphin School is an industry leader in early literacy and the arts, providing comprehensive Early Care and Education (ECE) services for infants, toddlers, preschool, pre-kindergarten, and private kindergarten. Steve Briar is the Executive Director and oversees both locations located in Maine.  We sat down with Steve to discuss his decision to work with Reliant Funding to attain the funds needed for expansion and repairs on the two school campus locations.

Tell us about the history of The Little Dolphin School.

“The Little Dolphin School is a non-profit, early education school that has been around for 40 years and currently employs 50 people. My mother, Sheila Briar, was a pioneer in early childhood education in New York. In the 1960’s she created nursery school programs for the local YMCA in Queens. By the 1970s women were flocking to the workplace which created a big need for childcare. And so, in 1977 she founded The Little Dolphin School. It was very diverse school that offered several multicultural programs and my mother required a four-year degree for all who applied to teach there. In 1999, The Little Dolphin School relocated to Maine and eventually expanded to two campus locations in Westbrook and Scarborough. To this day we are best known for our top notch professional teaching staff. We are referred to as the “Harvard of Childcare.” It’s one of the few independent nonprofit early education programs in existence today.”

What challenges did you initially face that drove your original interest in finding a funding solution for The Little Dolphin School?

“The challenges for our nonprofit school are mostly seasonal and occur during the summer. What really drives this school is occupancy and tuition, but we try to find a balance because so many families need help and we try our best to cover everyone who may have fallen on hard times. About sixty percent of families do pay in full and the others are subsidized. There are always mild seasonal changes in the summer enrollment and so we needed help on cash flow side.”

“Additionally, we needed to repair a leaky roof in our Westbrook location and upgrade the playground areas in both campus locations. We went this alternative finance route because credit cards are not cheap. As a small business owner, you must decide the least painful thing to do.”

Was there a feature or specific reason for choosing to work with Reliant Funding?

“We received a million offers in the mail but where it made all the difference was working with Armando on the front-end aspect of things and Katie doing everything else. They both were pleasant and were very knowledgeable. I was just impressed and Reliant stood out in a sea of non-impressive offers I was receiving. The terms were attractive and they dotted every i and crossed every t. We walked through everything. The process was easy, and in a world of SMB’s dealing with banks, there is a just a huge gap and that’s why companies are jumping. With Reliant, it was just a very professional and impressive experience.”

Prior to contacting Reliant Funding were you actively researching available funding solutions?

“We considered a merchant financing loan with our existing credit cards and found the terms were too expensive. We also tried a line of credit with our bank. They didn’t give us that much money and we needed more. You see, it’s hard as a nonprofit school. No one really wants you. Alternative business financing is exploding because banks have failed people like us. But Reliant was the fastest and the easiest, we also really liked their people.”

How long did it take to get up and running with our funding?

“I completed the application on May 30, 2017 and received a final decision soon after. We had closing documents complete on June 9th. I was approved for $100, 000 and I accepted $60,000.

Did that timeline and process meet your expectations?

 “Yes! It was incredibly fast. They are the UNbank. You see, banks give us (the small business owner) an umbrella when its sunny out and the minute it starts to rain they ask for it back, that’s how banks operate. I was very satisfied with the timeline at Reliant Funding.”

What would have been the financial impact for your business had you not identified a solution?

“I think it would have taken us a longer period to make the improvements to the roof and playgrounds we needed. We would have maxed out current credit cards to make it happen and it would have put more pressure on the family. No doubt it would have been harder. It would have taken years to do this, instead of completing everything over a three months’ time.”

How would you quantify the return on investment of the funds you received?

“We always want our facilities to look great as we are a higher-end educational institution. We offer high-quality programs and so maintaining that is important. We are able to continue to provide these services and really help families in both communities who need it the most.”

At Reliant, we know businesses are not a one-size-fits all. We work with many financial partners to create a variety of customizable financing options. Based on the needs and finances of the business, we will work together to find a number and plan that works best. Have questions?

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