My business partners and Abby and I are starting WillPower. A high energy, high intensity, strength building studio training program. That’s no secret. But what has been difficult to share is how challenging the process has been. How many times the plans have changed, how many different places we’ve looked at. Finding a physical location has been an arduous task. Here’s the story…
The original plan was to move in to this awesome facility with everything we needed that had already been a gym so there was minimal buildout and the rent was CHEAP!!! Everything any of us could want, this place had; clean, centrally located, the previous tenant was vacating, and all we’d have to do is slap some pain on the walls and install a bad ass sound system… PLUG AND PLAY!!! But hold the phones…. It was only 4.5 miles from our previous employer which violated our non-compete agreement. We explored fighting the NCA but found that even if we were to come out on the better end, the process could take 10-12 months to settle. Too long to wait. Perfect location SCRAPPED.
Our NCA stated that we couldn’t be within 10 miles of our previous employer. On a map, 10 miles put us directly in the middle of the Deleware River. Doesn’t leave a lot of choices in Central Jersey… So we headed North. Once again we found a great building with a big garage door, The size we needed, owners that were developing the property and the properties around it, and it was in a high traffic area right off Rt. 1. Negotiations were going well until they told us we couldn’t have that building and strong-armed us into another building in the back of the property 300 yards behind the first… deep breath. We can still make this work, or so we all thought.
We came to a tentative agreement on the rent and the buildout and then we were informed that we needed a “variance” from the West Windsor Township. Let me explain… The building we were interested in was only allowed to have office, management, or research based businesses in it. The township considers WillPower a recreational business which means our business varies from what is allowed; hence “variance.” In order to obtain this variance you have to submit $10,000 and a variance request; then the township takes four months to decide if you can put your business in the space (and if they decide that you can’t, they keep the 10k).
Thanks, no thanks.
So we set our eyes on Philadelphia, Fishtown/Northern Liberties to be more specific. A simultaneously developing and thriving part of the city. Immediately we found 3 spaces that wanted to negotiate. We quickly narrowed to one that was in a good location with a wide open space that needed a lot of work but really made sense for our business. We once again negotiated a fair rent and even went so far as to submit financial information for their review. It was looking good! All that went pretty fast. Then… crickets… 8 days went by with no word. Then our realtor came back with not good news. The land lord decided that they didn’t have the resources to facilitate our business and they wanted to focus on developing their residential spaces. Another breath.
Our second choice was four blocks East. A beautiful finished space with minimal work needed. The floor plan is not as wide open but definitely functional. Here we go again, back and forth, negotiating (damn near experts by now); often going a week between offers and counter offers.
All the while I’m making as much money as I can training a little here and there but with a wife and young son, it’s not exactly making ends meet. But in a frustrating time professionally, financially, and emotionally, my wife and I have kept belief in ourselves, our business partners, and our mission. These times have made us closer, not driven us apart.
This week, our negotiations and our patience have paid off. The landlord has agreed to our terms and wants us in their space. we have some details and formalities to iron out but we should have a lease signed in the next 3 weeks. It feels like victory even if there’s no ink yet…
*This story only details the highlights of our journey. Here are some other interesting stats from our journey:
- 14 spaces we physically checked out
- 7 Realtors used
- 15 Meetings about spaces
- 113 Days and counting…