Category Archives: Studio Operations

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.

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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

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

Opening a SPIN® studio

7 Questions to ask yourself

  1. How much money will I need to cover the cost of launching….and to support myself until the business can? This is a core question that should come well before you get into the specifics of how you want your studio to operate.  The answer will only come from the development of an exhaustive business plan (see #7 below).
  2. Who is your primary target audience? Stay at home moms?  Outdoor cyclists?  Singles?  Baby boomers?  Probably some combination, but the mix will have a major impact on your scheduling, marketing and other factors.
  3. Are you opening a Spin® studio or an indoor cycling studio. There is a difference, and you need to know the specifics to avoid legal hassles.
  4. What is your strategy for connecting with the community?  Especially early on.  There are number of tactics, you need to implement them early on so you don’t see empty classes.
  5. When you open a Spin® or indoor cycling studio you will need to think carefully about your location. What are the factors with noise?  parking?  access?  How many square feet are needed to accommodate the number of bikes you will have to have to make your financial model work?
  6. Marketing? Ads, eNewsletters, Direct mail, Web 2.0, what’s the right mix?  How can you build a great website?  How do you build the all important word-of-mouth once you open a Spin® studio or indoor cycling studio.
  7. Do you have a business plan that takes into account the rate at which your business will grow AND the rate at which it will churn out profit?  This is a critical question.   Having opened a number of studios, we have seen that the business gradually builds…….but how fast?   We have a track record so we can help you figure that out.

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

Launching your own indoor cycling or SPIN® studio: 6 challenges to consider

In the last 3 months, I have had over 40 inquiries from around the country from people curious about starting their own indoor cycling or SPINNING® studios.  I am working closely with a number of these folks developing business plans as we speak, and several are launching studios this month!  Congratulations to Jody at Just Ride in Plymouth, Mass, Lorie at Joy Ride in Salem, Oregon, and Russell at Body Cycle in Philadelphia, PA……..I have had the privilege of working with each of them over the exciting (and nerve-racking) months leading up to their launches.

At some point along the way, each of these folks, faced challenges in each of 6 critical areas……and you will too if you are serious about opening your own cycling studio:

Pre-launch challenges:
1) Am I suited to being an entrepreneur?  A few months ago we posted on this topic.  In addition to a passion for fitness and the cycling experience, you also need to enjoy the business, planning, organization and marketing side of your new enterprise (or have a spouse or partner who does!).  Think long and hard about this, it is not insignificant.

2)   Where do I get the money?  You either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t there are some ways to get it, and they all involve having a compelling plan to show.  People with money to lend or invest,  whether it’s friends, relatives, banks or your own spouse —- need to see that you have thought through the issues, that you have a plan, and that the payback of the money is a reasonable risk.

3)   Location, location, location?  After money, this is the biggest stumbling block to getting a studio going.  The right location cannot be rushed.  It needs have 3 things, and 2 out of 3 aint good enough.  It has to have 1) proximity to the right target audience (that’s another whole discussion), 2) the right logistical traits like parking, noise sensitivity, convenience, and 3) be reasonably priced on your build out and your monthly rent.

Operating challenges:
4) Instructors…..ya gotta have good ones or the whole thing collapses.  You need to find them, recruit them, and keep them happy, all on an ongoing basis.    This will be a challenge as long as you are open.  A process needs to be developed.

5) Automation….this is not a business that can sustain a large or expensive staff.  It is critical to automate (via web) your key operations like scheduling, payroll, marketing, financial and others so that it is easy and cheap to administer.  The good news is that there are great online tools to do this now available.

6)   Marketing….word of mouth will be huge and important, but it is also critical to continue marketing even as you become more and more established.  There are are variety of online, offline and “guerilla” marketing tactics that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis.

Best of luck to Jody, Lorie and Russell!  They’ve made it through the first 3 challenges and are now moving into the really fun part!  Operating classes and making the world more fit……..one rider at a time!   If you have questions on any of this, give me a call at 781-254-3677 or email me:  billpryor@comcast.net.

SPIN® studio website, automating and marketing your business

Spynergy Consulting, in conjunction with our partners at Indoor Cycle Instructor, has developed an integrated website and marketing package that you can easily deploy for your cycling studio.  It is not expensive.

At Spynergy, we have owned and run cycling studios since 2004, we have a great feel for what you need in your website to run an efficient operation.  It is easy to put up a basic “billboard” as a SPIN® studio website, or a cycling studio website — but it will not grow your business.  Our experience shows you need a few critical things:

  1. A site where new prospects can easily get their most common and pressing questions answered
  2. A site that Google can find.  Fully 30% of our cycling studio’s new customers found us via search last year.  That is huge.  “Findability” is a special skillset we can offer to your web presence.
  3. A site that easily integrates with the best possible reservation and scheduling system to automate your business.
  4. A site that integrates easily with your email marketing program so you can do effective low cost promotions via email
  5. A site that you can self-maintain.  After some basic training you should NOT need to go to a web developer for each change.
  6. A site where you can easily connect and engage with your customers through blogging and social media —- this helps your business but also makes you more “findable” on Google and Bing.

Opening a SPIN® studio, or an indoor cycling studio is hugely rewarding on a number of levels…..By automating your business (through the online tools we can set up for you), you become hugely efficient….and you free yourself up for the more exciting stuff:  interacting personally with customers and making your classes great.

Contact us for a free proposal on building your web presence:  billpryor@comcast.net   781-254-3677

Indoor cycling and SPIN® instructors….studio lifeblood

Early this year, we conducted a survey of over 500 active customers of the Spynergy cycling studio in Wellesley, Mass.  This was a tremendously interesting look at the demographics, activities, attitudes and preferences of our customers: spinners and indoor cyclists.  Among some of the interesting findings:  less than 30% of  studio visitors are regular outside cyclists….WOW.  Some studio owners might find this surprising, but the reality is that the hard core outdoor cyclists are often……you guessed it, outdoors.  To build a critical mass of customers to a studio like this, you need to attract outside cyclists AND others seeking a great workout for cardio fitness and/or weight control.

Revelation #2.  When asked what was the single most important factor in keeping them coming back for more classes?  The number one factor was not the quality of the bikes, it was not the studio, it was not the parking, it was not the pricing model —– all these were important, but the number one most important reason people return to an indoor cycling class is….THE INSTRUCTORS.

When you think about it, and when you think about your own class enjoyment, you know this to be true.  If you own or operate a fitness studio, cycling studio, personal training center or any group exercise that is instructor-led, it is absolutely critical — from a customer retention standpoint that you have well defined practices for a) recruiting teachers, b) training teachers, c) evaluating teachers and d) replacing teachers.  This is not an HR issue, nor an operations issue, this is a marketing issue as teachers are the single most important factor in retaining customers.  In a future post, we will address training, evaluation and recruitment.

Note:  one of the best resource for indoor cycling instructors to get ideas is a website called Indoor Cycle Instructor the good ones go there to become better.