When Nancy Kotowitz first considered buying Shaker Farms Country Club, she had plenty of challenges to overcome.
Not only would she have to take out a loan of more than a million dollars to do it — the golf course was in bad shape, the club house was outdated, and the parking lot looked like a sand trap. “When I started, the few golfers that played the course asked for their money back,” she recalls. “It was that bad.”
Someone at a SCORE event had talked about their own million-dollar loan to start their business, and “That was all it took,” Kotowitz says.
Kotowitz has worked with several mentors over the years and continues to attend workshops on topics like marketing. “The good thing about SCORE [is that] they will match you with someone who can help you with a specific issue,” she says. Her staff was crucial, but club members have also volunteered their time to bring this club back to life — a testament to the good bones the club had retained over time.
“As the company explodes with holiday parties, golf tournaments, weddings, and concerts, my new challenge is to not do the day-to-day tasks, but rather train great people to be accountable,” Kotowitz says.
SCORE mentors helped with the important first step: determining whether the business could ever be profitable before Kotowitz committed to buying the country club. SCORE helped Kotowitz set up a business plan that focused on seven existing and potential profit centers for the country club, along with a marketing plan for each one in turn.
SCORE connected Kotowitz to the SBA to secure financing, and she got to work. “One by one, each profit center began to take shape,” she says. She installed a point-of-sale system, paved the parking lot, replaced the septic system, fixed broken equipment and water leaks, replaced old wallpaper with a fresh coat of paint, and more. “Even the beer cooler was revamped,” Kotowitz says. After several months in the permitting process, a new sand pit was approved for Shaker Farms Country Club and various other improvements were made to the golf course as well.