The SBDC has a plan that fits
After close to 20 years in business, Jill Stump and Caity Davis, owners of FitOne Personal Training Studio, found themselves at a business crossroad.“Last November we were told that our lease was due to be renewed, and the new owner was raising the rent by 40%,” Jill recalls. That rate increase was unsustainable for the successful fitness studio located in the heart of Alexandria’s Old Town.
Jill and Caity found a new space nearby, but there was a problem. “The building had been vacant and needed a lot of work,” Jill explains. The answer, as it turned out, was just down the road. “My mom, who lives in Richlands, Virginia, knew about the SBDC through a friend,” Jill relates. “She told us we should check it out. That’s when we discovered that the Alexandria SBDC was literally two blocks away.” Jill and Caity decided to visit.
“We spoke to Gloria Flanagan first, and she put us in touch with Business Analyst Jack Parker,” Jill continues. When Jack, a former banker, asked the fitness pair what he could do for them, their answer was direct. “We told him, ‘we need help all around,’” Jill recalls with a smile.
The first step was funding the building renovations. Jack analyzed Jill and Caity’s current banking relationship to determine lender interest and worked with them to develop a formal growth plan. When the fitness pair’s large bank could not find a way to expand a line of credit to accommodate their requirements, Jack introduced Caity and Jill to M&T Bank. That resulted in an SBA Express loan for $133,000 and a line of credit for $50,000. “Jack helped us research the numbers and revise our business plan,” Jill explains. “We could not have made this move without the help of Jack and the SBDC.”
The two partners made a leap of faith by moving to the new location in a matter of months. The grand opening was May 1, 2018. “We’ve really taken off in our new building,” Jill says. “Our client base increased, we hired new trainers, and we added new services. Everything is increasing!”
Now Jill and Caity are looking to implement additional plans, including a virtual exercise class. “It’s a way to reach more clients,” Jill says. “People anywhere can log on and take the class. It’s also great for those who travel for work — we’ve always wanted to offer an option for them.”
“I can’t say enough about how instrumental the SBDC was in helping with the whole process,” Jill concludes. “Caity and I were scared about moving and taking out new loans. Because of the help we received from the SBDC, we felt comfortable with our decisions. We couldn’t have reached this new level without them.”