Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network
Northeast Regional Office

Business Services Unlimited (BSU)

Renee Jacavanco“When I met [former] MSBDC Northeast Regional Director Margaret Somer at a local business event, my revenues and reputation had been growing fast, but my margins were slim,” recalls Renee Jacavanco (photo right). Her firm, Business Services Unlimited (BSU) of Danvers, has given its small and medium-size business clients bookkeeping and accounting support and business advice since 1990. Over the years, Jacavanco, a public accountant, has added administrative services and business problem solving to her arsenal of services. She has extended her client support further through alliances with financial advisors, human resource specialists, and other specialists A year ago, Jacavanco realized the irony: BSU, which had advised so many business clients, now needed an outside perspective.

Since that first meeting, Somer, whom Jacavanco calls her “business alter ego,” has helped the small business owner address challenges from multiple angles. “Margaret helped me write a proposal that allowed BSU to secure an SBA-backed $75,000 credit line from a bank, Salem Five,” she notes. “That relieved a great deal of anxiety.”  So did the advice to hire a skillful office manager, which freed  Jacavanco (she also employs four bookkeepers) to devote more of her time to clients and sales. The new office manager, she continues, also handles sales, operations, and a special need identified by Somer: collections. When Somer made her initial assessment, she discovered $40,000 in overdue receivables from clients. That has since disappeared thanks to the office manager’s subsequent training in collections, better tracking of client accounts, and new collections protocols.

To build a more lucrative client base, Somer convinced Jacavanco to advertise, network, and add a specialty niche focusing on construction contractors. For the first time in two decades, BSU did mailings, which in turn yielded new, high-quality customers. “Our emphasis on QuickBooks has been especially valuable to contractors. It allows them to cost out overhead, which they can easily incorporate when charging out hours. So far I haven’t lost any of my clients in that industry to the recession. One developer is still building high-end homes.”

Encouraged by Somer, Jacavanco has explored a new-found passion for networking. She regularly attends small business, construction, and other industry gatherings to make new contacts. She also attends a local monthly gathering of the Massachusetts Association of Public Accountants to talk shop and network.

Above all, Jacavanco  credits Somer and the MSBDC for helping BSU to plan for controlled growth. That entails setting realistic quarterly and annual sales goals—and  tracking costs, revenues, and cash flows. “By seeing this bigger picture, we’ve achieved growth within our means and increased our client base,” Jacavanco observes. BSU now operates more efficiently and profitably.

“Working with Margaret and the MSBDC has helped us to develop our own best practices and to disseminate better practices to our clients,” Jacavanco continues. “If I think that a client can benefit from the MSBDC’s services, I recommend the MSBDC. I know first hand what a difference those services have made for Business Services Unlimited.”