We continue our series of interviews that explore the secrets to our clients’ success. I spoke to Lea Allen about the lessons she and her husband Tim have learned in establishing their quality butchery, The Butchers Bullevard, with a new landlord.
Mel: What brought you and Tim to Coffs Harbour?
Lea: Tim’s a butcher and we were looking to buy a butchers shop. We’re both from Dubbo but when we saw Palm Butcheries on the market we jumped at it and moved up here in September 2011.
Mel: So why change the name to The Butcher’s Bullevard?
Lea: I had felt for some time that we needed to better understand where our meat was coming from. We decided to change our supply strategy. We found local company Mayfield Farm Pork to supply us with beautiful pork with no added hormones and started sourcing our lamb and beef from a supplier in Inverell who represents farmers in this region.
We wanted a new name and a new image to fit with our new position as a supplier of local, high quality meats. The timing was right because the centre was changing from Palms to Coffs Central.
Mel: Was the change over easy?
Lea: No. When Coles left the centre our business suffered. We had to lay off staff. My second daughter was born that February and I had to come back to work in April and bring her with me. We did it tough.
Mel: How did you manage financially?
Lea: We approached Gowings, the new landlord, and explained that without their help we would not be able to stay in the centre. Gowings were fantastic: very supportive.
Mel: Were you worried about negotiating a lease with a new landlord at such a vulnerable time?
Lea: We were worried. So we hired a leasing consultant and it’s the best decision we have ever made. She arranged for a valuation on the business, which enabled us to demonstrate to Gowings what we could reasonably pay and remain in business. It made the negotiations so much easier – less emotional and focused on finding a win for both parties.
Mel: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through this business transition?
Lea: I have learned that if you don’t have knowledge of an important aspect of your business you should bring in an expert – not try to wing it on your own. Our business is where it is today because we got expert advice.