If a couch needs fixing or a chair needs mending, chances are John and his team can bring that broken piece back to life.

As the founder and owner of Sofa Doctor, based in Auckland, he likes to think of his business as a mobile furniture medic.

Sofa Doctor’s fleet of vehicles provide services like leather, sofa, chair and upholstery repairs and cleaning to mostly commercial retailers, including Harvey Norman and Freedom.

“Basically, any furniture that breaks, we can fix it,” he says.

His career spans 22 years in the furniture industry, beginning first in Australia with manufacturing, before starting his own business in New Zealand five years ago.

Since opening his doors in Auckland, John has made a name for himself with retailers in the area through attention to detail and great customer service. However, when it came time to thinking about the future of his business, he knew he would need funding to help achieve his goals.

Hear more about John’s small business story:

Eyeing new opportunities

Since starting the business, it grew bit by bit, but John says he realised they would need some financial support if they were to make a bigger leap into new territories. About three years into the operation, he set his mind on expanding their services into Hamilton, south of Auckland, as it’s a large area and would serve as a jumping off point to expand further south. However, doing so required upfront investment in people and equipment.

“It’s a large geographical area, and we needed to purchase a vehicle, set up stock and hire another employee to be able to cover that area,” he says.

John reached out to his financial advisor, who recommended he contact Prospa for a small business loan.

“Due to our situation and what we wanted to accomplish, they felt Prospa would be a good fit,” he says.

“We needed quick access to finance, and with Prospa everything was completed in 48 hours, which made it very easy for us to make that move.”

John had initially contacted a traditional bank for help as well, but the process of applying for a small business loan was very labour-intensive, he found, and would take longer than he could afford.

“For small business owners, we’re working from early in the morning to late at night. We don’t have time to gather 200 pages of paperwork, submit everything and then wait two weeks [for an outcome],” he says.

“Our industry is all service-based, so being able to sort purchasing the vehicle and stock as soon as possible, and not have to wait made it easy for us. It’s about saving time, efficiency, great service – that’s what small businesses need.”

“With Prospa everything was completed in 48 hours, which made it very easy for us to make a quick move.”

John has turned to Prospa several times since to help both grow his business and smooth out cash flow fluctuations, including to help manage some of the uncertainties that stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I went through the unsettling feelings that I’m sure many small business owners felt, and still feel,” he says.

“Luckily enough, it didn’t affect us too much, but Prospa gave me that feeling of ‘I don’t have to worry as a business owner, and I don’t have to press pause on my business goals’.”

Expanding into new territories

John’s team currently consists of seven employees, but his future plans include growing the furniture family even more – he hopes to one day see his fleet of furniture doctors making house calls to every corner of the country.

“My goal is to make sure we cover every square kilometre of New Zealand, and just build a great team of people around us,” he says.

Being able to branch out into new territories has been a great success for his business, and John says they are seeing year-on-year growth of 40%. He credits a fast application and quick decision on a small business loan as crucial to helping the business achieve those numbers.

In addition to expanding into new locations, Prospa’s small business loans have helped the company expand in other ways.

“We’ve gone from dealing with retailers to also doing fit-outs for some of the largest restaurants in Auckland, so it’s just been growth on growth,” John says.

“For us, the future will be about taking on larger projects.”

Although the effects of COVID-19 are still front of mind, John says that nothing can distract him from his vision of being on call for all of New Zealand’s furniture-fixing needs.

“My priority is supporting my team and making sure that we have a clear path and a positive attitude about the future,” he says.