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

Spinning studio business, business plans, opening a studio

If you are considering launching a cycling or spinning studio, you are probably researching and exploring existing studios……with good reason.  Before you (or your lenders) invest money in opening a studio, it is logical to want to see proven models of success.  They do exist!  In the case of our own Studio, Spynergy Wellesley,  we developed a straight forward business plan and model with some basic elements we have found to be successful.  Other studios around the country exist with variations — your own business will be tempered by the realities of your market, you customer needs and your own vision for the business.  One model:

  1. Small, single-purpose studio — cycling classes only
  2. Online reservation system, primarily “pay-per-class”
  3. Targeting fitness, athlete and cyclist participants

Other variations exist elsewhere: cycling classes combined with yoga or other group exercise, membership revenue model, targeting of specific niches.  Another interesting post:  how you can “outspin” big health clubs.

For a complete review of the Spynergy model, give me a call at 781-254-3677,  and also of course peek at a few of the other relevant posts on this blog.

2010: Indoor cycling studios are a great business because…..(8 reasons)

Year-end is a time to be reflective, right?   2010 has been a whirlwind for spinning and indoor cycling activities of all kinds and I feel fortunate to be deep into it on a daily basis. My own studio is finishing its best year ever based on attendance (or “butts in seats” as we say in the industry)……..but even more rewarding is the work I have been privileged to do with dozens of entrepreneurs and studio starters all over the world.  (Yes, the world!  This year we worked with folks in 14 states as well as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and England).

Before plunging into the cycling world 8 years ago, I worked in a variety of high tech, marketing, energy and other industries.  I can honestly say I have rarely felt such a consistent level of energy and passion as what I see in this business.  Is it the endorphins?  Sure.  But I also think it is the sincere belief that what we are doing by building community fitness businesses is palpably making people’s lives better.   How many people can say that about their jobs?

In the spirit of David Letterman, here is the Spynergy Consulting’s  year-end “Top 8 List”.   This is the 8 Best Things About Indoor Cycling Studios:

1)   People love them! Customers constantly thank you for what you are doing and are telling you how it helps them.

2)   The market is growing! Baby boomers and Gen-Xers are aging and as their joints wear out, their search for a quality low impact workout intensifies.  Niche studios are exploding in popularity around the world.

3)   They appeal to diverse groups! Specialty classes are emerging for teens, seniors, competitive cyclists, cross-trainers, moms, dads and everything in between.

4)   There’s Cool Tools to Run Them! Entrepreneurs can focus on creating great classes by using the web and online tools to automate a ton of the marketing and logistical stuff behind these businesses.

5)   Cycling is green! The more indoor and outdoor cyclists the better as the world looks to non-carbon burning transportation activities.

6)   It’s a community! Unlike the huge box gyms, the intimacy of a cycling studio builds a unique camaraderie amongst folks who ride together.  Studios can link to schools, teams, clubs, churches and groups in a ton of cool ways.

7)   Mind and Body! Well done classes are medicine for the body, the mind and the soul of the rider.  A respite and a haven from the chaos of daily life.

8)   The benefits are undeniable! More and more research is emerging on the documented benefits of exercise in general, but also of cycling and cardio-workouts on fitness, aging, disease prevention, stress, mental health and more.

There are a variety of articles covering studio startup and operations on this Spynergy Consulting blog.  For a free consultation or brainstorm session contact Bill Pryor    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

De-mystifying indoor cycling and SPIN® classes

Whether you are writing a business plan for a studio, teaching a class, trying to run and operate a cycling studio — or just trying to “spread the word” about this amazing workout, you will need to address a pervasive perception that these classes are insanely intense.

“Those people are crazy”.  “I almost threw up”.  “It’s insane in there”.  I remember the first time I wandered past the door of a spin room back in the early 90’s, peeking in and thinking to myself:  what the @#$% is going on in there?

To have a successful cycling studio, you will need to break down the perception that these classes are insanely intense “suffer-fests”.  Yes, there are people who seek that experience, but as you know, a class does not HAVE to be that way.  The reality is that each individual can adapt the workout to their own fitness level.  This is a critically important concept to communicate in your marketing if you want to broaden your customer base.  In every piece of promotion we do, we are careful to stress that these workouts CAN be intense, but that each participant can determine the intensity level that suits their needs.

As a practical matter, there are several ways to get this across.  You can run “intro” sessions (we do them for free at our studio), that provide an overview without all the distractions of a full blown class.  We have also produced a tri-fold informational brochure that explains the work out and attempts to de-mystify it.  Your website should address this issue in an “FAQ” section or in some other way.  The reality is that in order to attract a broad audience to this workout, it has to be marketed as something folks of all fitness levels can enjoy and benefit from.

Cycling Instructor conference: ICI/Pro — great energy, great event

Wow, I just spent 2 and a half days at the ICI/Pro conference put on by John Macgowan, Jennifer Sage, Barbara Hoots, Gene Nacey,  Tom Scotto,  and the other good folks working with  Indoor Cycle Instructor.com.  Great energy,  great event!  I met instructors and studio owners from all over the world:  LA, Toronto, Sweden, Montreal, Texas, Tennessee, New York, Canary Islands, Boston, San Francisco, Georgia, Ann Arbor and more.  Lot’s of styles, lots of  networking, lots of great ideas flowing from one instructor to another.   Several folks were interested in our presentation:  start your own indoor cycling or spinning studio.   I had too many take-aways to name….but here are 3:

1) Keiser (an event sponsor) provided very cool bikes that have a console measuring heart rate, cadence and watt output.  Suuntu (another sponsor) had a cool technology that projects your heartrate data on a screen in front of the class — the whole subject of metrics was abuzz at the conference.  Clearly it is a wave starting to make an impact on indoor cycling.

2) Metrics, power measurement and other technologies are making it easier to attract outdoor cyclists.  In order to thrive, indoor cycling studios and programs need offerings that attract both the fitness, the weight control and the outdoor cycling communities.

3) Endorphins?  Passion?  Some combination?  I don’t know, but the energy level at this event was huge.  I had conversations in the halls about every conceivable topic:  the importance of music, the merits of different bikes, combining indoor cycling with other workouts, using social media….and a lot lot more.

The net net —- noted by Jennifer Sage in one the sessions, is that educating yourself and mingling with like-minded zealots, is a critical part of keeping yourself fresh, motivated, valuable and inspiring to your students.

Kudos to Indoor Cycle Instructor for creating a great event!