“I actually get dirty and do the work. That’s how I keep our quality consistent. We built a reputation, so people trust us.”
Ernie Liverman Keeps Vehicle Fleets in Top Shape with Help from Kabbage
Ernie Liverman started working in auto repair in high school, following in the footsteps of his father. After earning his degree in electrical engineering, he worked for several decades as an auto dealership mechanic, shop foreman and master service advisor. However, he found an opportunity to run his own business when one of the dealer’s clients asked if Ernie would be interested in doing maintenance for the client’s fleet of vans.
It inspired Ernie to open VMAC Van Maintenance & Auto Care in Glendale, Arizona in 2005. He and his five employees offer fleet service for cars, trucks and vans as well as auto maintenance for individual car owners. VMAC also operates mobile vans that service vehicle fleets at customer sites, including Enterprise Ride Share, where his mobile vans help maintain 500 vans in the local Enterprise Ride Share fleet.
Easing the cash-flow crunch
Most of Ernie’s fleet customers pay their invoices 45 to 90 days after billing. But to keep vehicles maintained and serviced, Ernie has to invest in supplies while waiting to be paid. “I buy 600 gallons of oil at one time,” he says. “At times I have as much as $60,000 in accounts receivable, but I still have to pay the electric bill and my suppliers. It’s a good business, but sometimes the cash flow isn’t so good.”
Ernie learned about Kabbage online and saw it as a good way to ease cash flow while waiting for customers to pay invoices. “In just a few minutes, I had a line of credit,” he says. “I got approved right away. The Kabbage mobile app makes things easy – I can see where I’m at with the account and make payments.”
Ernie used his first Kabbage loan to upgrade equipment in his garage and buy a wheel-alignment system. “That was a service I couldn’t provide before,” he says. He also uses Kabbage loans to buy bulk quantities of products like engine oil, transmission fluids, gear oils, wiper blades and filters, giving him a higher profit margin when he passes costs along to customers.
On the lookout for new customers
With the assurance of his Kabbage credit line, Ernie can add new fleet customers to the business. “I was able to take on a landscaping company with about 50 large Isuzu NPR trucks,” he says. “Those trucks need a lot of oil. With Kabbage loans, I can buy the supplies I need and not have to worry about cash flow.”
As his business continues to grow, Ernie hopes to keep bringing new customers to VMAC by focusing on marketing and sales. “I’d like to hire a full-time manager to run the garage so I can spend more time in sales,” he says. He’s also considering investing in local advertising campaigns and adding more car-maintenance products to his shop so he can increase revenue from retail sales.
Even if he spends more time on sales calls, Ernie doesn’t plan to stop repairing vehicles himself. “I actually get dirty and do the work,” he says. “That’s how I keep our quality consistent. We built a reputation, so people trust us.”
Year established: 2005
Location: Glendale, Arizona
Annual revenue: $600,000
Growth metrics: 28 trucks and 40-50 pickup trucks
Kabbage customer since: 2015