To see the FULL list of SBA Finalists, click here.
1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
Jerri Wiseman was cast in a show written and directed by Terry Smith. When Jerri heard that Terry was planning to build a website promoting his scripts, she approached him about starting a business to produce those shows for entertainment in the community as a business.
Jerri has a history of event planning and had developed a solid reputation for producing quality shows over several years while living in Hong Kong. During that same time, Terry had also established himself as a creative playwright and director of improvisational shows. We discussed marketing strategies, focused areas of entertainment, and general feasibility. The ability to encompass our passion in a viable business venture prompted us to complete a business plan and map our goals.
We came up with 3 pillars of service for the company: Entertainment, Education and Production. We began with producing murder mysteries and children’s shows, eventually adding cabarets to the mix. Theatre workshops were started to support those interested in pursuing a career or even a hobby in the theatre. Summer camps were added for middle to high school students and the company has started to offer afterschool classes. Team building, escape rooms, and mystery adventures round out the service offerings for the company. Production services for other theatre groups and local playwrights will be added in once a space has been acquired for productions.
In its first full year in business, the company was nominated and named a finalist for the Loudoun Chamber Small Business of the Year award. The company joined the Chamber the following year and business expanded based upon the partnerships formed through the Chamber. That year StageCoach Theatre won the SBA for Tourism and Entertainment. Business has continued to grow with a solid customer base and quality venue partners.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
Winning the Small Business Award allows us to bring recognition to our brand which others in our field do not have. It means that we have been recognized as a company that provides exceptional service to our customers. We are always trying to set our brand above others in our industry and winning the award would help us do that, particularly by being designated as the Innovative Business of the Year, showing that we bring unique entertainment experiences to our customers. It is good for the company, good for business, and good for our customers.
3. If you weren’t running your own business, what would you be doing?
Jerri and Terry would find other ways to stay useful and contribute to the community in which they live. We started off in community theatre and would likely continue to support the arts in this way. There would be more time to act in shows once again if we weren’t behind the scenes running the show as we do now!
4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?
Both Jerri and Terry are currently reading potential scripts for upcoming shows. Jerri is also reading “The Intentional Entrepreneur” by Jen Dalton for fabulous guidance on personal branding. Our favorite books are usually murder mysteries and crime fiction when we get the chance to read! Terry enjoys working and solving puzzles of all kinds.
5. What is your favorite app (computer/phone)?
We rely on Dropbox quite a lot. It is the best way for the both of us to be able to edit and share files currently in progress. We can access files on the go which is extremely helpful.
6. If you have 24 hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
Terry would get a glass of good Virginia wine, sit down at his computer, and work on a script for a new play. Jerri would sit around eating bonbons and binging on Netflix. (Anyone who knows Jerri knows that’s absolutely not true! Haha! Most likely she would be creating new graphics for upcoming shows and working on new ideas for the business.)
7. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
StageCoach Theatre was given marketing funds through Visit Loudoun’s matching grant program. It was just a small amount which enabled us to advertise in the Washington Post in an effort to bring people to Loudoun County to see our shows. That small grant was just what we needed to compete with the big boys and our business has exploded because of it. We now consistently have 35% of our customers coming from outside Loudoun to attend our dinner theatre productions.
8. What did you want to be when you grew up? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
When Jerri was growing up, she wanted to be Julie on the Love Boat – always planning activities for guests and meeting new people. She’s pretty content that she gets to do just that within the theatre company! Terry wanted to be President of the United States. But things don’t always work out the way you planned so he has settled for VP of his own company.
9. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
Melisande Smith got Terry involved in theatre some 25 years ago and supported him through stage crew, acting, directing, and playwriting. Jerri was most influenced by the director of most of her shows in Hong Kong, Mary Lacey Vittachi. Mary showed by example how to support the community through the creativity in theatre and deliverance of a moving performance that was extraordinary.
10. What is your favorite thing about living/running a business in Loudoun County?
Being a part of a growing and vibrant community such as Loudoun County has been a true joy. There are endless opportunities and amazing connections within the business community. Loudoun County provides resources and support for small businesses to make an impact on the community as a whole.
Thanks, to Jerri Wiseman & Terry Smith, co-owners of StageCoach Theater Company, and congratulations on your nomination! Click here to see all of the “Meet the Finalists” posts. We will be continually posting them as the event approaches.
The 22nd Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards is Friday, November 4th! Register Here