A few stressful beach outings was all it took for Cecile DeMartini to start a service providing beach furnishings and set-up for beachgoers, weddings, parties and other events.
In 2005, after the birth of her second child, she showed up to the beach one day with baby gear and towels but no umbrella, and that cut her trip short. The next time, she brought an umbrella, but within minutes, the wind picked it up.
"It was that day when I had a whole ‘see a need, fill a need’ light bulb turn on," she recalled. "My years of touring resorts in Mexico helped me understand the basic needs of enjoying a day out at the beach, and I soon put together a business plan outlining how Beach Butlerz would make a day out at the beach easy and affordable for all to enjoy."
DeMartini, a Cal Poly alumna who fits in Beach Butlerz around her busy schedule as an environmental engineer for the state Water Board in San Luis Obispo, held Beach Butlerz's grand opening in 2010.
Q: What were the three most important ingredients to starting your business and why?
A: A thorough business plan reviewed by peers and revised several times, genuine encouragement and guidance from spouse and local business professionals and family money.
Q: Explain the toughest challenge you faced when you started? How did you overcome it?
A: Figuring out all the steps needed to become a legitimate business. I attended every single free workshop and professional mixer offered throughout the county having to do with owning or running a business. Entities that helped me the most were SCORE, Mission Community Services Corp., Collaboration, Toastmasters and some special local business professionals.
Q: What is the biggest priority for your company now?
A: We're in the midst of the heaviest service season we've ever experienced. We're also trying to get all of our finances organized into a manner that is easily understandable for potential investors for our upcoming expansion into other California towns and cities.
Q: What was your — or an employee's — best idea that increased sales, profitability or both?
A: The best idea that increased our sales and profitability came from our customers! They taught us that corporate and group events maximize the use of our beach furnishings and streamline the staff's hours of operation.
Q: Where would you like to see your business in the next five to 10 years?
A: Our plan is to provide Beach Butlerz services in at least five other cities/towns in the next 10 years. Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles are the first three locations that we plan to quickly roll out to.
Q: In what ways is your business using social media?
A: Social media has been an immense marketing tool for us since day one. We created a Facebook page and a Twitter account even before Beach Butlerz had its grand opening in March 2010. We're now on LinkedIn, Yelp and Instagram as well.