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R.T. Fisher & Associates, Oakland

Robyn Fisher, Owner of R.T. Fisher & AssociatesCompany Profile – R.T. Fisher & Associates is a minority woman-owned business that specializes in educational training for school districts and major higher education institutions. Some of the major clients served include Stanford, University of California, Oakland Unified School District and many other school districts and boards of education. Owner, Robyn Fisher opened the business in 1999.

Challenges – R.T. Fisher & Associates was an early and active supporter of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The federal program inadvertently forced R.T. & Associates out of their previous business-to-business model and into a consumer-based business. This led to significant operational problems due to a lack of ability to coordinate federal and regional mandates. Billing and collection problems associated with the NCLB program resulted in significant operating losses for the company and a cash flow crisis that nearly forced the business to close or seek formal reorganization.

Actions Taken – When the Alameda County SBDC became involved R.T. Fisher & Associates had less than a week of cash reserves left and new cash flow was at an annual low. SBDC Consultant Steve helped develop a cash management plan for the company, helped them implement the plan with vendors and creditors and developed a new set of accounting and management reporting systems. This allowed the company to identify the root of its cash problems and shut down the consumer portion of the business.

Results – The new management decisions, coupled with SBDC help in developing a new business plan and management presentation, enabled the company to secure a $90,000 line of credit with Citibank. The funding and management support guided the company through the worst of the cash flow issues and helped it reposition itself as a business-to-business company. The company also renewed its marketing to target larger educational institutions which has yielded impressive results in a short period of time. Fiscal year sales for 2007 is projected to increase by $500,000 — a doubling in revenues — EBITDA will increase from a slight negative to a positive of $250,000 and an additional 6 to 10 new FTE will be added in the Oakland area. The company’s consumer-targeted campaign, titled “The Quad” and structured as a non-profit, has 20 schools enrolled for help in bringing up math and reading levels.

Statement from the client - “Steve was a skillful tutor that guided me through a gut-and heart-wrenching small business financial 101 short course. During the most stressful time of my business reorganization, he kept me focused with the tasks at hand with his unwavering honesty and what seemed like his infinite availability to answer my every question. Steve continues to lend his support, advice, wisdom and great stories as I move to the next level in my business ownership. I can’t imagine not having Steve in my corner. Thank you ACSBDC!”

Client: Robyn Fisher, R.T. Fisher & Associates
520 3rd Street, Suite 109
Oakland, CA 94607
 (510) 614-3000 
www.rtfisher.com

SBDC Business Advisor:
Steve Roth, Alameda County SBDC