When Debbie Patterson and her
husband decided it was time to sell their house and downsize, she knew exactly
who to call: Changing Spaces SRS (Senior Relocation Services).
“When we decided we were
going to move, it was almost overwhelming to think about all the details that
go into moving,” Patterson said.
Changing Spaces SRS helps
seniors think about downsizing, then organizes the move and holds an estate
sale, if necessary. For most seniors and their families, this is a daunting
task, and it can be challenging to know where to begin.
Patterson had been
recommending the business to residents of The Landing, an assisted living
facility where she works as a consultant. Now she can give them a firsthand
account of her experience with Changing Spaces. She had them pack up and
organize her house, move and unpack into the new home.
“It’s the human touch,” she
said. “They treat your objects the same way the owners would. That’s what sets
them apart. They’re so sensitive to the human side of the process.”
“It’s a difficult transition,”
said Jeannine Bryant, owner of the business. “Sometimes people look forward to
the move, sometimes they don’t. We laugh and we cry with our clients.”
Bryant has been the sole
owner of Changing Spaces SRS since 2014, when she bought out the other
partners. Prior to that they occupied an office in the business incubator in
the Entrepreneurship Center at Southeast Community College.
“If you’re going to be
serious about it, the incubator is great,” Bryant said. “You write up a business
plan, and it forces you to get your act together. It’s a very energizing
The business incubator is
designed to provide support for entrepreneurs. Owners have their own offices,
shared use of a copier and scanner and access to business coaches. Owners
participate in business coaching, refine and develop their business model, and
network with other entrepreneurs during their three years in the incubator.
“You surround yourself with
other business owners,” Bryant said. “It’s nice to have someone down the hall
who you can talk with.”
When Bryant started to work
with the previous owners in 2010, they had 20 clients that year. This past
year, she served 135 clients. She also has a 21-person staff, including a
full-time office manager. She has come a long way in the past few years. She’s
not sure they would be where they are today without the help of the
“The director told us things
we didn’t want to hear,” she said. “He pushed us to hire more employees, to
spend more money on marketing. He also guided us toward some of the legal parts
of the job. He walked us through stuff that was not our forte.”
She said the office space was
helpful, and they took advantage of the shared conference room in the
incubator. She knew there was a deadline looming and that they had to stick to
it, something they wouldn’t have had if they set up the business in a home or commercial
“We knew we had a three-year
deadline to become a real business by then,” she said. “We knew we had that
amount of time to get our ducks in a row.”
When they finally did move
out of the incubator they had a rude awakening when looking at the high cost of
renting a space. Bryant is thankful for those three years to learn, grow and
work out the kinks.
“At times I wish I was still
in the incubator so someone could tell me what to do next,” Bryant said.
“It’s a great success story,”
said Cat Leverett, administrative assistant and business coach in the
Leverett said Changing Spaces
was busy with clients from the moment they opened an office in the incubator.
She said not all businesses are that far in development when they enter the
Center, but this one came with a plan.
“Part of the success of
Changing Spaces is they had a team in place when they came here,” Leverett
She also added that tenants
need to realize it takes a minimum of three years to get a business off the
ground and start making money.
“We have so many
opportunities for people,” Leverett said. “We start with information gathering
and determine if you’re ready to start a business. If you’re not solving a
problem for someone, it’s not always feasible.”
As for the future of Changing
Spaces SRS, Bryant has thought about opening other branches and possibly even
franchising the business. However, with two small children as well as the
thriving business, she currently has a decent work-life balance.
“Maybe when the kids are
older,” she said. “My worst nightmare would be to start opening franchises and
the level of service would go down.”
SCC’s Entrepreneurship Center
will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special event at Grata in Lincoln on