Healing Hands, Bethlehem, PA

Healing Hands: Massage and Wellness in the Lehigh Valley

Jennifer Burns was just 22 years old when she opened Healing Hands Massage and Wellness Center, LLC, renovating the lower level of a building herself to create three massage rooms. Today, Healing Hands’ accolades include 17 “Best Massage” awards from Lehigh Valley Magazine and three “Best Place to Get a Massage” awards from Lehigh Valley Style.

Along with Healing Hands’ excellent reputation, its physical space has grown, too: Jennifer and her team offer massage and wellness services throughout several floors of Tiger Hall, an iconic building in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Historic District. Jennifer purchased the building in 2014 and refinanced it with help from Pursuit, S&T Bank and an SBA 504 loan – the leading choice for entrepreneurs who want to purchase commercial property or refinance owner-occupied commercial real estate.

Early on: Benefiting from mentors and advisors

Jennifer always knew she wanted to help people and by keeping an open mind to opportunities and advice, she found her path. She credits an uncle with encouraging her to try massage therapy and admits that she was hooked after the first class. Jennifer also acknowledges that a mentor she met early in her career was pivotal to helping her develop her business vision.

And Jennifer says that Ray Porambo, a financial advisor at S&T Bank, encouraged her to approach Pursuit about refinancing the loans she took on when she purchased her building in 2014.

Pursuit and S&T Bank partner to help Jennifer and Healing Hands

“Ray had worked with Ashley at Pursuit for many years and he thought I might be able to get better terms and lower my monthly payment. As always, it was great advice,” Jennifer explains. “Ashley and the Pursuit team have been terrific.”

S&T Bank and Pursuit helped Jennifer refinance the loans she took on to acquire the historic building that has housed Healing Hands for several years.

“As with any property, the refinancing process can be stressful,” explains Jennifer. “That’s where a great team makes all the difference. I had lots of questions and Ashley was always helpful and responsive and easy to work. And my monthly payment was reduced by $1,600.”

“Then the pandemic hit. Fortunately, since Healing Hands had already been approved for the working capital loan, we were able to use it for ongoing expenses during the four months that we were closed, as well as the costs related to reopening, which really added up,” says Jennifer. As a massage and wellness center, safety protocols are always part of daily operations, but the industry now requires even more rigorous standards and procedures due to the pandemic.

Jennifer also secured a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from her commercial bank.

Now that they’re open again, Jennifer says that business has been great. Rather than expand to an additional location, though, the pandemic has inspired her to recommit to her current space. She’s also exploring goods to offer online, which will help her build an ongoing revenue stream with unlimited potential.

Keep learning and growing

Over the two decades that she’s been in business, Jennifer has learned a lot about launching, growing and refocusing her business. Here are her key insights for other entrepreneurs:

  1. From the start, learn everything you can about your business’s financials – and as you grow and hand off responsibilities, be sure you still frequently review them.
    “I’d always thought that I had a good handle on our financials, but the pressures of the COVID-19 business closure made me review them in ways that I hadn’t since Healing Hands was a start-up. I realized that to get through this pandemic in a financially strong position, I had to get back to a start-up mentality, too, when every penny made a difference. When you do that, you weed out a lot of the non-essential things that add costs but don’t add value to your clients, your team or your bottom line.”
  2. If you start a business because you’re passionate about something, check in with that driving force when things are difficult – that passion will reinvigorate your commitment and help you get through every challenge.
    “That passion will carry you through the stresses of launching and growing, as well as unknown challenges, like the pandemic.”
  3. No matter how stressful business ownership can be, always remember that we’re all connected.
    “Early on during the pandemic, there was a spirit of unity and that seemed to fade over time. We need to be kind to each other and support each other, as individuals and as business owners. We don’t know where this is going but when we come through it, wouldn’t it be great if we all found ways to do things better than we did going in?”

Contact Pursuit: We can help

If you need small business funding or are simply interested in learning more, contact us today.

For more than 65 years, our team has helped thousands of small businesses get the funding and other assistance they need to launch and grow. We’re committed to helping small businesses, including those that may not meet traditional lending criteria. We provide access to more than 15 loan programs and a range of additional services to help you grow, from financial-management assistance to marketing consultation and more.

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