Farmville’s A Great Escape Spalon, a rural full-service spa, is far removed from an urban big box store. That’s the transition Bridget Flannagan made when she moved to Farmville to take the job of business manager.
“This was my first foray into a small business environment,” she says. “My previous background was the corporate, big box sector.”
Flannagan, a self-described “jill of all trades,” manages the financial side of the business and serves as receptionist.
“I’m also one of the co-owners and the Human Resources (HR) manager,” she adds.
Currently, Great Escape employs 17 in a variety of specialties.
“As far as I’m aware, we’re the only full-service day spa offering the range of services we do,” she says. “We have an ABC-on license to serve light alcoholic beverages and recently added a sauna.”
When COVID came to Farmville last year, the spa, like most other businesses in town, experienced a new normal.
“During COVID we shifted to e-commerce, and we were closed for eight weeks,” Flannagan says.
That’s when she decided to contact the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
“At first we worked with Business Analyst Brandon Hennessey on where we should go from there,” Flannagan relates. “Then when things started opening up again, we applied for SBDC’s Refocus 2021 program.”
The SBDC program was created to increase sustainability of small businesses through increased sales, employment and capital investment.
“So far we’ve had two roundtable meetings with Brandon, Ilsa Loeser and Vince Magnini,” Flannagan reports. “We talked about some new ideas for marketing and are moving forward with those.”
One of the roundtable ideas has also produced results.
“Those discussions helped us narrow our focus,” Flannagan says. “In planning for summer, we decided to focus on our bridal business.”
After starting a bridal ad campaign, the spa realized a 75 percent increase in that sector.
“That’s directly related to the planning we did with SBDC,” Flannagan adds. “On the financial side, the Growth Wheel program and being able to put my financials in a big picture view has also been an amazing help.”
Would Flannagan recommend SBDC to other business owners?
“Absolutely,” she says. “SBDC gave us that outside perspective we needed to focus and keep us on the right path. SBDC is a free service, but the amount of information we’ve received is priceless.”