6 Reasons a studio can “outSPIN®” big health clubs

There are dozens of examples around the country of successful dedicated fitness  studios. While there are differences in approach, pricing and style………these studios have survived, and thrived in the face of direct (usually lower-priced) competition from large “box gyms” and health clubs that offer spin as well as multiple other products.  These studios are classic “niche” businesses.  They are successful for their focus on some combination of the following factors.

1) Focussed Mission. A dedicated studio pays attention to the details and focuses on one thing:  the best  classes possible.  Equipment, sound system, decor, amenities, teachers………are the best available.

2) Convenience.  A studio is single purpose, “in and out”, simple, easy to reserve and participate.

3) Flexible payment. In a studio, you can pay “per-class” and when you don’t attend….you don’t pay, or you can often buy monthly unlimited passes if that seems economic.

4) Easy reserve. No waiting in lines, no getting “shut out”, no calling the night before to reserve.  You can easily reserve online, show up 2 minutes before the class, and enjoy!

5) Community. A small intimate studio encourages sharing and interaction amongst students if they so desire.  Instructors and students interact to optimize fitness, growth and enjoyment.

6) The little things matter. Quality sound, outstanding teachers, attention to detail, lighting, mirrors, equipment, announcing schedule changes and subs, personal touches, amenitites

If you are interested in learning more….in launching your own studio….or streamlining and marketing an existing fitness studio — click here to find out about our consulting services.

Summer marketing for fitness and cycling studios……take a deep breath

 Summer Marketing?  Yikes….take a deep breath.

Whether you operate in the colder states of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West, or in the moderate climates of the South or the Far West…….the summer slows down.   Even in places where the summer heat is intolerable for outdoor work outs, the summer slows down.
Outdoor exercise and nicer weather is part of the reason, but more importantly the “rhythm” of people’s lives changes dramatically in the summer.  School is out which directly or indirectly affects a huge percentage of your customers, and of course it is a time where many people take time for special trips and vacations.  For most local business, and definitely for fitness businesses….the summer slows down.
|Can you change that?  No.  Remember that old saying about “Give me the strength to change the things I can….etc. etc. etc.?   It’s true!  Remember it this summer.  Can you take some steps to minimize the slow down?  Yes.   Here are five Spynergy Consulting strategies for dealing with summer.

  1. Target specialty niches.  Even though your core customers are fewer, there may be groups you don’t typically target during the year.  Students are an obvious one, what about seniors?  Teachers?  Tourists and visitiors?  Town employees?  Others?
  2. Good time for discounting.  Since your sellouts will be fewer, what about Groupon deals, or annual “sales” where you discount.  Make the offers limited time and for limited term (“40% off 10-class package, must be used by labor day”)
  3. Specialty classes. Heartrate training, outside ride themes, Tour de France, musical themes, anything to spice things up a bit.
  4. Customer events.  Informal outdoor “group ride” starting at your studio, or even a “thank you” beach party that you ride your bike to.
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  5. Most important….”take a deep breath”.   It’s OK to be slower.  Plan for it to be slower, don’t beat your head against the wall.  Use it as a time to spruce up, organize fall marketing, complete long-delayed projects, work on your playlists and take some time off yourself to re-charge your own engine!  C’mon…give yourself a break.

Each part of the country and the world  has it’s own rhythm…don’t fight it.  After 7 years operating in Boston, we know we have 6 months of “high season” (Nov thru April)  4 months of mid-season (Sept, Oct, May, June), and 2 months of “down season” (July and August).  We budget and plan for it being sure to optimize efforts when they will do the most good —- and “taking a deep breath” when our customers do too.

Spynergy Consulting provides marketing and operational consulting to fitness studio owners and mangers. Contact Bill to brainstorm: billpryor@comcast.net

Funding your studio, practical notes

Over the last year, I have spoken to a ton (many dozens) of people who have connected with me about the idea of starting their own cycling studio from scratch.   If you and I have spoken, you have probably heard me discuss what  the 3 critical “phases” of studio development (before launch).

money on trees1) Business plan….answers key questions like how much do I need to get going?, how much can I make?, what are the operations and marketing issues around getting going?, do I really want to do this?

 2) Funding…a few folks are self-funding with savings, most want to borrow money to get going.  How does this work, what do you need?

 3) Real Estate….finding the right space in the right demographic location at the right price is critical to making these work.  Lots of issues around this as many can attest.

 Today, I want to say a few brief words on funding, funding, funding, and especially the idea of borrowing money from a bank.  Is it possible?  Yes.  Is it difficult?  Yes.  Is having a great idea that you KNOW will work enough to convince a bank?  No.   

 I am going to make a gross generalization and there are always exceptions but there are 3 things a bank cares about.

1)Is the business a good idea with a good plan

2) Is the entrepreneur or team a good credit risk?

3) Has the owner demonstrated a strong commitment by putting their own money at risk?

Here is a quote from the SBA (Small Business Administration) website.  The SBA is one of the major lenders to startup small businesses

“…Sufficient equity (investing your own cash) is particularly important for new businesses, to convince the lender you are serious…”   

Having a good idea and a good plan?  Good.
Having a good plan and a good team?  Better
Having a good plan, good team committed and motivated?  Best   

Feel free to call to call anytime and discuss these or other marketing issues facing your studio!  Bill    billpryor@comcast.net  –  781-254-3677  –  skype: spynergy1

Targeting all types for your indoor cycling or SPIN® studio

targetWho’s your target customer?   If your studio is like most…..there is not one correct answer and there are multiple groups that you can attract.   One way to think about the two broad communities your studio will likely serve is as Fitness and Training oriented riders

Fitness riders are not outside cyclists, are not training for an event and are likely primarily concerned with conditioning and weight control.  Training riders have a sport, race or event they are thinking about, it could be cycling but it could be something else.

Each of these types of clients can become  dedicated loyal participants if you cater to their needs and construct an environment they like…..AND they can co-exist nicely.  Our studio has 48 bikes and 30+ classes a week and I have seen it every day in my studio.  

Four Tips For Attracting and Retaining ‘Fitness’ Riders
1)  Provide useful articles and content regarding nutrition, weight control and how the cycling workout can be most effective
2)  Provide free “intro” sessions so newcomers can learn properly.  It is important to de-mystify cycling classes for many who think it may be too intense.
3)  Be careful the environment is non-intimidating to all fitness levels.  One of the reasons you will attract people who won’t walk into a large gym is because your place is friendlier and less intimidating.
4) Actively talk about and promote your appeal to beginners as well as to advanced cyclists and fitness levels.

Four Tips for Attracting and Retain ‘Training’ Riders
1)  Find instructors that are outside riders or active athletes and speak the language
2)  Educate yourself and your team on Heart rate, cadence, power and other metrics that help folks understand what they are accomplishing.
3)  Create and note special classes on the schedule that promote
specific training objectives (endurance, intervals, etc.).
4) Provide informative articles and content about the latest in training methods and technology

I am thinking of opening a cycling studio or a SPINNING® studio…..what do I do first?

“…I want to open a studio.  How do I get started?…”

I have received dozens of inquiries with some variation of this basic question.  My answer is exactly the same as it would be to anyone who wants to launch a restaurant, a magazine, a retail store or a dot.com business.  YOU NEED A BUSINESS PLAN.  The act of writing and developing a business plan forces you to address  all the critical factors that can make or break your business.  While writing it you will begin to frame answers to the most critical questions

  • How much money do I need to start this up?
  • How much money am I likely to make in year 1, year 2 and beyond?
  • Will I need other income during the start-up period (i.e. can our should I quit my current job?)
  • Is the operation of this type of business suited to my skills?
  • What are the key things I need to do to make this successful
  • How will I distinguish myself from competition?
  • Should I recruit partners or investors?

The very act of writing a business plan forces you to formulate answers to these and other questions.   These issues should all be addressed BEFORE you borrow money, sign a lease, copyright a name or invest significant dollars.  For some, writing a business plan convinces them they do not want to be an entrepreneur — much better to find out before signing a lease or buying bikes.  For others, writing the plan is the exciting initial spark that puts the engine in gear and gets it running.

Spynergy Consulting provides consulting services (including business plan development) to entrepreneurs and studio owners throughout the world.   To arrange a free consultation, email Bill at billpryor@comcast.net

Online coupon marketing (Groupon, etc.) The good, the bad, the ugly

OK, these things work….really work.  But there are some things to think about and consider.  Be careful before rushing right in:

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The Good:  hundreds of new bodies will walk into your studio
The Bad:  many are bargain hunters you will never see again
The Ugly:  if you’re not careful, they will take the seats of your full price regulars

There are some things you can do to optimize this powerful new advertising medium.  For a complete round-up and analysis of how these things work and what to consider, check our sister blog site  www.cyclingstudio.org

The crucial importance of attracting multiple groups to your cycling studio

One of the beauties of a cycling studio is that Lance Armstrong and your grandmother could both sit through the same class (assuming each could tolerate the music), and if properly coached, each could receive awesome fitness benefit given their own fitness levels.  Isn’t that amazing?

For a startup cycling studio (or any cycling studio) to be a successful business, the available seats need to be filled.  Our experience over 7 years, is that no single constituency is enough…..we need them all.   Your marketing, AND your class offerings need to appeal to serious “suffer-loving”  cyclists — AND overweight weekend warriors, and everything in-between.  Don’t assume everyone has the same motivation.  Sure, the number one reason people attend spin and indoor cycling classes is to control weight, but here are other reasons we hear:

  • My cholesterol is high, I want to help control it
  • I am a runner, but want to cross-train to protect my knees
  • I just love the darkness and the mind/body elements
  • Indoor Cycling complements my other workouts
  • I meet interesting people at your studio
  • It’s the only workout I can enjoy with my spouse

Many of your potential customers are outdoor cyclists ….Many aren’t.
Many of your prospects are after weight loss….Many aren’t.
Many are young…..Many aren’t

It’s not easy targeting multiple communities of exercisers.  But is is possible.  Be sure you think about this aspect of your marketing and of the classes and environment you create.

There are a number of other posts on this blog addressing various aspects of opening a cycling or SPIN® studio.  For a free consultation/brainstorm, contact  Bill at 781-254-3677   billpryor@comcast.net