Backyard X-Scapes takes SCORE Lessons

Jamie Kocher and Steve Raketich relied on the agency for guidance.

As many small businesses struggle with sales and financing in the current economic climate, San Diego-based landscape retailer Backyard X-Scapes uses SCORE San Diego’s free counseling and low-cost workshops to remain financially sound and profitable.

While setting up national distribution of faux waterscape products more than six years ago, Jamie Kocher and Steve Raketich became convinced they could streamline the process by purchasing direct from the factories. As a result, they started Backyard X-Scapes, a landscape retailer/wholesaler specializing in fountains, pottery, bamboo fencing, bamboo products, thatch palapas, thatch products, artificial turf, artificial rocks, and rock waterfalls.

The partners also sell accessories including fountain pumps, lights, pond supplies, and much more. Utilizing over 70,000 square feet, Backyard X-Scapes is now the largest supplier of outdoor products in San Diego County.

In need of financial planning and marketing guidance, Kocher and Raketich contacted SCORE San Diego and attended several workshops, including Internet Marketing, Small Business Marketing, and Business Plan I: How to Develop Your Competitive Advantage.
The internet marketing workshops proved beneficial as the Backyard X-Scapes and their Bamboo and Tikis Websites currently account for more than 25 percent of total sales. To further expand their horizons, Backyard X-Scapes has hired an online marketing team to increase sales and awareness of the Backyard X-Scapes name.

Kocher and Raketich also received financial planning guidance from SCORE San Diego counselor Paul Hollenbach.

“Paul explained how important it is to have open lines of credit for future expansion.” says Kocher. “We supply bamboo fencing, carved tikis, and faux rocks to more than 120 Home Depot stores nationwide, and when The Home Depot wants us to supply more stores, we now have the ability to finance this expansion immediately. Having great cash flow and this solid line of credit has also allowed us to purchase our products in container load quantities directly from the manufacturer and sell at wholesale prices, which gives us an advantage over any and all competitors. We guarantee the lowest pricing of everything we sell.”

Kocher and Raketich continue to use SCORE San Diego’s services to stay in touch with the latest developments in the business world.

“Six months ago, Steve and I handled most aspects of the day-to-day business, but with Paul’s guidance, we hired Ray Valdez as controller and general manager to solidify operations for the future,” says Kocher. “SCORE has been a great source for information and guidance. I cannot say enough good things about them and how much they have helped us.”

Even in the current economy, Backyard X-Scapes continues to prosper, with sales up 27 percent this year. Because of its success, Torrey Pines Bank has nominated Backyard X-Scapes for the Small Business Association 2009 Small Business of the Year award. For more information about Backyard X-Scapes, visit the website at http://www.backyardxscapes.com/ or http://www.bambooandtikis.com/. The company’s showroom is at 10835 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego. The phone number is (858) 643-9030.

For more information about the SCORE San Diego workshop series and counseling, call (619) 557-7272 or visit http://www.score-sandiego.org/.

SCORE is a national association of active and retired bsuinessmen and women who volunteer to share their expertise with small business as well as new business startups at no cost. The objective is to help America’s small business grow and prosper. SCORE San Diego offers its services to the entire small business community and consists of more than 90 couselors from diverse age groups, ethnicities and business backgrounds.

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