After becoming a new mom, Phoebe Trickett was struggling to find the work-life balance she desired as a third grade teacher. She had been instructing at The Butcher Shop Fitness for two years and one day noticed a lock pad on the door of the fitness studio. She assumed the owners, who were working remotely, were looking to sell. This wasn’t the case but it led into her first conversation about acquiring the company, which she later did. Learn how Phoebe has grown the Butcher Shop Fitness into a two location studio with 30 instructors that serves 135 clients per day.
Give us a summary of your business:
The Butcher Shop Fitness is the first Lagree studio in Columbus, Ohio established in 2011. It’s a 50 minute Full Body workout done on a Megaformer, which effectively combines strength, endurance, core, cardio, balance and flexibility. We strengthen and lengthen muscles that most exercises are unable to access. The movements are performed slowly, using spring tension, which limits the risk of injury on the joints. This workout is for everyone. Whatever stage of life you are in, Lagree will meet you there.
How did the idea of your business come about?
I had just had my son and was working as a 3rd grade teacher. I loved my job, however, I was struggling with finding balance in my life as a new mom. I had been instructing at the Butcher Shop for about 2 years, and in that time fell in love with the workout but most of all the community. I knew that the Shop was a place that could be so much more, to so many more. I didn’t just want to be apart of it, I wanted to grow it. I took over ownership of the Butcher Shop in Spring of 2018, and rebranded the studio. We kept the original name of the studio because being a retired 3rd grade teacher, I loved the playfulness of the names and puns associated with Butchering and the workout. From there, I continued to grow the Shop, focusing on the things that mattered most to me. Creating a workout experience and community that was for EVERYONE. No matter where you’re at in your Life, the Shop will meet you there.
Wait a sec, can you give us more details how you went from being a third grade teacher and instructor to owning the business?
The owners were working remotely in Nashville, and we had seen a lock pad on the door, so just assumed they were trying to sell the space. (They weren’t) However, the owners seemed to be disconnecting from the business and were only in town every couple of months Despite their lack of presence in the Shop, the business was seeming to still do well. We emailed them letting them know if they were interested in selling, we were interested in buying. Even though they weren’t considering selling the Shop at the time, they knew their current setup with managing a fitness studio from another state was not ideal, and knew how much I loved the Shop, so were willing to entertain the idea.
Did you have to take out a loan? Were you nervous making such a big investment?
My husband and I took out a loan and teamed up with our silent partner. Together we bought the Shop, and built our second studio.
Is it harder being a teacher or an entrepreneur?
I was certainly surprised by how many skill sets from teaching carried over to owning my own business. In a lot of ways managing small children is very similar to managing adults. Teaching was harder in that I had to constantly be documenting what my students were doing, how they were performing, assigning grades to their work. I didn’t like thinking of my students in terms of a grade. I felt like every day was different, some days they could be performing at an A+ and other days, not so much. I hated measuring my students against the norms of other children. What I love about instructing at the Shop is that it’s all about the clients competing against themselves. The only thing that matters is that you’re growing and getting stronger everyday! Never are you measured up to your peers, you’re just there doing your personal best each day.
Being an entrepreneur definitely has its challenges too with being the person that all decisions fall on. The most challenging part is being the one who establishes all the rules and answers for staff and clients. However, this is why I believe it’s important to surround yourself with a strong team of people who can act as supervisors. I’m really big on bouncing ideas off of others, so having people I can do this with constantly is very helpful to me as a business owner.
How much does one of these Megaformer machines cost? It sounds like a beast of a machine!
Haha oh it’s definitely a beast… it’s basically a Pilates machines on steroids. The Megaformer can range anywhere between $10,000-$15,000 depending on the model.
What’s the ideal amount of times to come into the Butcher Shop? Do people come daily? 2-3 times per week?
It’s different for each client based on their goals, but I would say a sweet spot for most is 3x a week. This allows clients to maintain the stamina and endurance required to perform the workout effectively.
We offer a variety of classes for clients so they are able to tailor the workout to meet their needs. We have 50 minute Full Body Lagree classes, 60 minute 30/30 classes which combine 30 minutes of HIIT with 30 minutes of Lagree, and lastly we offer a Lagree + Yoga Flow class which is 30minutes Lagree and 30 minutes of Yoga.
How do people feel after your class? Do they have more energy? Is their body feeling better? Are they losing weight?
Most people express a significant difference in their core strength and because of this a decrease in lower back pain. They often make mention of how this workout has performed their performance in other areas, such as running, lifting, cycling etc. People also notice that they become more functional throughout their day. They have better posture and more mobility in their joints. Their muscle tone increases, however it’s lean muscle, so never any bulking associated with Lagree.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
Ironically, the COVID shut down was a big turning point for the Shop. With less than a year under our belts, we weren’t sure we’d be able to come out of the shut down, but the support we received during this time helped us grow stronger as a community. We realized during this time how much the Shop meant to our members. Our clients continued to show up and take our live workouts. They kept up with our Instagram challenges and continued to offer words of encouragement throughout the 3 months we were closed. We not only maintained our community, but continued to grow it. That is how I knew the Shop was special. Even without the magic of the Megaformer, our clients continued to show up for us and themselves.
It must have been very stressful during the shutdown. Was there a moment where you didn’t think you’d make it?
Luckily it never got to the point where we feared not being able to pay rent. However, when the stay at home order was extended, and we were denied the small business loan the first time we applied for it, I remember looking at my husband, who helps handle all the finances of the company, and asking him if we would be able to overcome such a financial hindrance. My husband is an amazing partner, who steps up in any situation. He continued to reapply for the loan, and eventually it went through. This made a huge difference with us being able to open our doors again.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Being an entrepreneur means having a vision for something and the ability to explore and act on it. You get to create this world in which the people surrounding you are working towards the same thing in. It means encouraging and fostering creativity amongst your staff and empowering the people you work with to take ownership of what their doing. As a business owner, I see myself as the facilitator as much as I am the creator. I get the privilege of choosing people who share a similar passion as I do, and from there work alongside them to create something better than I could have ever envisioned.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
The city of Columbus has such a unique love and appreciation for small owned businesses. We feel very fortunate to have people surrounding us that are so invested in seeing us do well.
There is something very unique about Columbus. I grew up on the east side of town. Although it feels like a big town, there’s still this need for community and personal connection. I have visited several Lagree studios in other cities where people come in, workout, and leave. There’s often very little interaction between the instructor and the clients or the clients with one another. Columbus possesses this Midwest hospitality, where people are genuinely interested in connecting with one another.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
A very admirable woman who I hired to mentor me at the start of owning my business offered some advice that at the time didn’t seem as significant, but now I attribute most of my success to.
“Establish your “buckets”, the BIG things that matter to YOU. Make sure to revisit these buckets and continue to fill them. This will ensure that you are maintaining the consistency of your brand, and aren’t losing sight of who you are and what you stand for along the way.”
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
I wish I knew to trust my instincts more. When I first started, I would question my thinking and disregard my instincts. Telling myself I was too inexperienced to know what was right. This would result in me wavering in decisions that I knew were right for the business. Over time, I realized that there were some things that required advice and guidance, while others involved following my intuition.
What’s the most challenging part of your business?
The most challenging part of running the Shop is it feels like there is always something that I can be doing to make the Shop a better place, or to reach more people. This can make it difficult for me to “turn it off” at times when it comes to work.
Business owners wear a lot of different hats. What are you great at and what are your weaknesses?
I enjoy educating instructors and clients on the workout. I also enjoy training new instructors. This is an area that I have a hard time giving up when delegating jobs to my team, as I feel like it’s the best way for me to guarantee that our mission statement is maintained through the instruction our coaches are providing.
I loathe anything that involves data, numbers, or expenses. My husband helps with the books and my studio manager helps with data analysis.
It’s hard for a lot of business owners to take criticism. How do you fare in this area?
A younger version of myself may have a different response, but now that I am confident in our brand, our team, and what we do here at the Shop, I really try to take what I can from criticism. Either using it to grow or finding myself more grounded in what we’re already doing. This would be another instance where I would revisit our “buckets” If the feedback we’re receiving could help us improve in an area, I embrace it
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
I would say the biggest reason a business fails is because they are focused too much on competing with others. The biggest competition should be with yourself and within your own business. Focusing on what’s important to you and how to make your business better for your members and potential clients and not someone else’s.
What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
I feel like doing my research more when it comes to purchasing things for the Shop. I can sometimes be an impulsive buyer with purchases. Spending more time on these decisions would have prevented some issues from arising.
I don’t really believe in mistakes, but instead opportunities for growth. I have learned that a mistake, regardless how big or small, can lead to a new understanding of something if one is able to reflect on it.
What tool has helped you the most for your business?
MINDBODY has been a great tool for our company in terms of scheduling and marketing. The system allows us to connect with people looking for certain workouts and promotes the specials that we offer at the Shop.
When did you know it was time to expand your business?
We knew we needed to expand our business when the supply was no longer meeting the demand. Our waitlists were at full capacity for many of our classes, and we were frequently having to add classes to the schedule to make room for clients on the waitlist. Within the last year, we’ve expanded by adding a second studio and 2 additional machines at our German Village location.
How many classes are you typically teaching in a day at each location?
I teach 2 classes, 5 times a week so 10 classes total a week.
How many people are walking through your doors in a single day?
It depends on the day, however the average number of clients we serve a day is around 135 people between both studios.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Hiring our studio manager, Korey Carr, has been a huge game changer for our business. She encompasses all that is Butcher, constantly going out of her way to connect with the clients in our community and strengthening our presence on social media by using tools to help with engagement. Having Korey as my right hand woman, has allowed me to hone in on the skill sets that I have, and reach other goals by maximizing on the strengths she possesses.
What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out?
At the very beginning of owning the Shop, I made the mistake of trying to collaborate with a few other businesses that fell through. I spent a lot of time working to connect with other studios or brands that didn’t end up benefiting us. I realized that the best collaborations were those with other businesses/people that were already a part of our community and believed in what we were doing.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
We spend a lot of money on cleaning, and have especially increased this amount with COVID. This was an easy transition for us, as we have always prioritized providing a clean space for our clients, so after COVID hit, we looked at this as an opportunity for growth in this area. We purchased several items to enhance our cleaning procedures at the Shop. For example, a Hepafilter and a Protexus Electrostatic sprayer that we use to manually clean the equipment and machines after every class.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
Ongoing education for our instructors. I believe in never becoming stagnant and always furthering your knowledge in areas that can help you excel as a professional. We are currently working on providing post-partum moms with the knowledge and tools they need to return safely to the workout. This is exciting, as I love making this workout WORK for others and love the idea of helping women stay healthy during their pregnancy and after baby.
What form of marketing is the most valuable to you?
Our Instagram account and word of mouth have both been very powerful tools for us. Instagram is great for getting our name out there and connecting with people who have/haven’t heard about us yet. It allows us to convey to others what the workout is and what they can expect when walking through our doors. A lot of growth for us comes from our clients as well. They love the community here as much as they love the workout, and love sharing their home away from home with others.
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
Investor/partner Rachelle is who I go to if I ever need to talk through an idea. We call her the “Butcher Rain Man” as she can provide insight on problems that no one else could deliver. She lives and breathes Butcher as much as I do, so I know if I have a problem, she’s going to be there to listen and talk it through with me.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
Our goal is to expand to a 3rd studio, and to renovate our first studio. We are very excited about both of these opportunities, but want to make sure that we give ourselves the time to build up the resources necessary for an expansion. I.e. Machines, staff, etc
When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?
Running a business can definitely be stressful, especially in the midst of COVID. A way I have combated this stress is by seeing an acupuncture every 2 weeks. This has not only helped with reducing my stress levels, but also has assisted in helping me make more clear minded decisions, ones that are driven less on emotion, and more on logic.
What’s one component of entrepreneurship that’s much different than what most people think?
Running your own business is by no means a “solo” mission. You are only as strong as the team of people surrounding you. I don’t believe I would be anywhere close to where I am today if it wasn’t for the people I work with at the Shop.
What’s your end goal with the business? Is this something you want to pass down to your kids or would you like to eventually sell?
I don’t think of an end goal when it comes to the Butcher Shop. I am very fortunate to be a young person in a young business. I look forward to growing Butcher, and watching it continue to evolve organically.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
I would recommend that they spend a day in the Short North, walk the streets, shop the retail stores and grab a cocktail and app. at a few restaurants, to get a real taste of our small town/big town vibe. One of my favorite restaurants in Columbus though has to be Barcelona. Spanish wine and tapas style dining has my heart.