When Linda Roll became the owner of European Medical Massage and Spa in Shillington, PA, she fulfilled a lifelong dream. She brought years of experience as a massage therapist, a savvy marketing sensibility, and loads of ambition to not just succeed, but in her words, “build an empire.”
To meet that ambition, she’s working with withco to buy her business’s property and become an owner-occupier. We caught up with Linda to talk about her story, what it’s like working with withco, and what her plans are as a future property owner.
So this one might be a long story because when I was, like, nine years old I actually remembered driving by the building we’re now in with my dad and telling him I was gonna work there someday. Flash forward to when I’m seventeen, and I dropped out of high school, got my GED, went to massage therapy school and got hired under the original owner in 2010.
I did that for two years then left for a brief stint as a car salesperson, but I couldn’t stay away and came back to work at the Spa after Steve and Denise bought it. They’re honestly some of the best people I know! Denise always acted like someday she’d pass the business onto me, but I was just so happy working for them I would have done it ‘til my hands fell off.
Well, a few years ago Denise told me they were selling the Spa and moving to Texas and I immediately asked if I could buy it and she was, like… not yet! Basically, I got myself centered and prepared and when I came back to Denise a year later, she immediately knew that I was ready to take on the business.
So now, I’m here building this empire that I had dreamed of and am just so happy to have every single day!
My parents owned a few small businesses when I was little. Most of the business knowledge that I have came from working sales jobs. That’s where I learned about how to move product but also about margins, marketing, a lot of the skills that you need to run a small business.
So it was that and… a ridiculous amount of podcasts. I taught myself a lot. I basically learned on the job so there was a little bit of a curve, but by the time I took over the Spa I was in the right position to be where we’re at now.
I don’t mean to sound, like, I don’t know, all grit and grind here, but I don’t look at anything as being a challenge. A challenge is just something I have to figure out. My whole life has been like that, I’ve always been the fixer, always the person to figure out the problem and get to the next step. I actually think my biggest problem is that there’s no “stop” in me, it’s always figuring out one thing and overcoming the next.
Honestly, with the pandemic, people are tired and drained and they need to rejuvenate and we offer them a space for them to do that. We meet everyone who comes in with love and make them feel cared for. The world is so loud right now and people need space away from that now more than ever, so in that sense this pandemic isn’t so much a challenge as it is another way we can really help our clients.
My hope was always to purchase the building but when Denise and Steve left for Texas, they didn’t want to hold the mortgage and I couldn’t secure one on my own. You guys were quite literally the answer to a prayer!
When you guys came to us and explained that you partner with small business owners to buy buildings so they can have, like, good landlords that help them become property owners: okay God, that was a really quick answer to this prayer, thanks for that! [laughs]
Believe it or not, our biggest “challenge” right now is that we’re starting to outgrow the space we’re in. Being able to own the building means that I’m motivated to make the necessary investments in the building to really utilize the space and make it the steeple of Berks County that we know it can be. Basically, it lets me think about the business beyond the next month or quarter. I’m working on a twenty year plan for us right now and I wouldn’t really do that without the prospect of owning.
So, withco reached out to Jeff, the real estate broker representing the property, then he got in touch with Denise and Steve. Denise is extremely protective of me, that’s just the kind of relationship we have, and it was important for her to meet you guys and vet you out.
Obviously, she loved you guys right away and told me that withco might be a really good fit so I had a call with the team at withco. When I talked about my success and growth plans with pretty much anyone at withco, it was like fireworks went off, you guys loved it!
I’m the kind of person who believes that to move towards growth is to talk about it and make action and to be in conversation with people who understand that type of ambition is so beautiful. Every conversation I’ve had with you guys has been, like, the best ever, it felt like you understood me and my vision from the start.
It’s been beautiful, I’m so happy to work with people who obviously want to see my success. You know how when you’re in school there’s one teacher who’s always cheering you on? You guys are like my business equivalent of that teacher for me. Just the fact that I am still learning, the fact that I can always get in touch and work hand-in-hand with withco means so much.
You guys are always willing to work together and I’ve always been able to get in touch with a real human whenever I need to. Not only do you guys work with me to find solutions to any issues that come up, but it feels like you care. Like if I’m like, I have five staffers out with COVID and I need some flexibility to respond to an email or call you’re like: “I hope you’re okay, let us know what we can do.” That doesn’t happen everyday with most landlords! The whole process since withco purchased the building has been so smooth, and every interaction has been like that.
I know this sounds really cheesy, but the answer to both is: my staff. I’ve known most of these women for at least a decade, so to be able to build something that offers them the type of stability that does not exist in our industry is so exciting. Maybe one of them will buy this business and property from me one day!
Yeah, just do it! I know that the idea of buying your property as a small business owner might be kinda scary or seem impossible, but just do it. Especially if they’re gonna work with you guys, because I can honestly say that withco cares, and everyone there wants you to succeed as much as you want to and you need people like that in your corner.