Opening a Fitness Studio, 6-months on…

Clients are the lifeline of your business and the community that you build can very well take you to the next level.

Opening a fitness studio

For Ross Millar, owning his own Diverse Fitness Studio in Torquay, is not just about running a business or teaching a class; it’s about making a connection with people and helping them to fulfil their dreams. 6-months into opening his new Studio and Ross has seen his membership numbers more than double, with new faces walking through the door everyday.

Starting his journey into professional fitness 5-years ago, Ross tells us “I remember working 3 separate bartending jobs in the local area, and then in my spare time providing fitness training to a couple of friends.” This went on until he had secured enough clients to quit bartending and focus on building his own fitness business.

His original classes were attended at various playing fields around the local area, before moving into a church hall in Paignton and the local Tennis club in Torquay. Over the next 2 years Diverse Fitness continued to thrive, building their community around fun filled fitness classes.

Fast forward 2 years and we catch up with Ross at his new Diverse Fitness Studio in Torquay to find out how he did it.


Yoga-Torquay-Diverse-Fitness-Studio-Torbay
HIIT-workout-Torquay-Diverse-Fitness-Torbay

Planning

Without going into a history lesson, boy did I hate history, a famous person by the name of Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

For all the right reasons, this is a quote that has echoed through the corridors of business schools for many years, probably from the day he said it. This is no different from when you help your clients to meet their goals, you prepare a training program, and plan the journey.

In business you’ll need to do the same thing, Ross tells us that he started planning his new Studio about 18 months before opening his doors. “The first challenge was finding the right location, the next was getting the planning permission for opening a fitness studio. We did find a great location, but after 12 months the planning permission was refused.” Whilst disappointing, Ross had already found a backup location, a vacant shop in St Marychurch, and surprisingly, the planning permission sailed through.

In addition to finding the right location, you also need to plan your finances, plan new classes to increase revenue, purchase or lease additional equipment, and start speaking with builders, tradesmen, and solicitors.

Finances

Going from rented spaces to opening a fitness studio can be a cocktail of excitement and nervousness, with finances being one of the biggest concerns. Ross had already created a community following and knew his income and projections, he understood his niche, and the competition, he just needed the capital to secure his ideal location.

There are many ways to secure funding, including the high street bank, crowdfunding, investors, friends, family, and savings. Ross combined his savings with additional help from his parents to turn his dream into a reality. He tells us “Finding the money to turn an empty shop into a fitness studio meant we needed more than just the first years rent. We worked with local contractors to add a mezzanine floor, a refreshment bar, facilities, and additional equipment.” When thinking of opening your own Studio, remember to always add the ‘fudge factor’ to account for any unforeseen work, legal fees, and time.

When you are looking to secure any finances you need to know your business inside out, and it’s often necessary to create a business plan. A business plan helps you to focus, and helps your lenders to understand your business and the expected return on investment.

When writing your plan you need to think about including

An overview of your business
An understanding of your customers
Knowledge of the industry and local market
Who your competitors are
Know your Strengths (what you do best), Weaknesses (what you suck at), Opportunities (can you deliver something the competition can’t), Threats (what could trip you up)
How will you attract and retain customers
Finances, your income and outgoings, including any interest rate on potential loans


Planning

Without going into a history lesson, boy did I hate history, a famous person by the name of Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

For all the right reasons, this is a quote that has echoed through the corridors of business schools for many years, probably from the day he said it. This is no different from when you help your clients to meet their goals, you prepare a training program, and plan the journey.

In business you’ll need to do the same thing, Ross tells us that he started planning his new Studio about 18 months before opening his doors. “The first challenge was finding the right location, the next was getting the planning permission for opening a fitness studio. We did find a great location, but after 12 months the planning permission was refused.” Whilst disappointing, Ross had already found a backup location, a vacant shop in St Marychurch, and surprisingly, the planning permission sailed through.

In addition to finding the right location, you also need to plan your finances, plan new classes to increase revenue, purchase or lease additional equipment, and start speaking with builders, tradesmen, and solicitors.

Finances

Going from rented spaces to owning your own location can be a cocktail of excitement and nervousness, with finances being one of the biggest concerns. Ross had already created a community following and knew his income and projections, he understood his niche, and the competition, he just needed the capital to secure his ideal location.

There are many ways to secure funding, including the high street bank, crowdfunding, investors, friends, family, and savings. Ross combined his savings with additional help from his parents to turn his dream into a reality. He tells us “Finding the money to turn an empty shop into a fitness studio meant we needed more than just the first years rent. We worked with local contractors to add a mezzanine floor, a refreshment bar, facilities, and additional equipment.” When thinking of opening your own Studio, remember to always add the ‘fudge factor’ to account for any unforeseen work, legal fees, and time.

When you are looking to secure any finances you need to know your business inside out, and it’s often necessary to create a business plan. A business plan helps you to focus, and helps your lenders to understand your business and the expected return on investment.

When writing your plan you need to think about including

An overview of your business
An understanding of your customers
Knowledge of the industry and local market
Who your competitors are
Know your Strengths (what you do best), Weaknesses (what you suck at), Opportunities (can you deliver something the competition can’t), Threats (what could trip you up)
How will you attract and retain customers
Finances, your income and outgoings, including any interest rate on potential loans


Marketing

Opening a Fitness Studio in a busy location will naturally generate local interest, but to open your doors to new clients, requires a little more sizzle. On your open day make some noise, Ross did this by inviting the local press, celebrities, and politicians; as well as his existing clients, friends and family. He advertised using social media and gave away free taster classes and memberships.

Marketing is an ongoing process that will ultimately feed and grow your business, it’s a little like a dripping tap, keep the marketing flowing and the studio will fill. Okay, maybe I need to work on that analogy, but you get the picture, it’s not something that you do once, it’s ongoing. The way you market will also help to strengthen your brand, we have an article on creating your brand. Oh, and while I think about it, we also have an article on building your business through customer experience.

the Good

Ross knows his customers, understands their needs, and meets with their objectives. Like all successful studios, he has built his own community.

“Our clients come to Diverse Fitness to meet with their goals, but more than that they come for the community spirit. We have a really friendly atmosphere where people can both work hard and relax with a smoothie at our refreshment bar.”

fitness-torquay-Diverse-Fitness-Torbay-Devon

the Bad

Juggling your time puts your multitasking skills to the test, but remember you can’t do it all, and even if you could, you need to consider the long term effects of working endless hours. Ultimately you need people to help you, and yes they cost money, but you’ve already done your financial projections, so you understand their return. Remember, friends and family are always keen to help, whether that’s cleaning the studio, providing help with social media, or just being there.

and the Ugly

Okay, you know it’s coming, and you’ve probably already got your head around it, but when you’re running your own fitness business it’s very easy to get bogged down in administration, paperwork, accounts, managing bookings, chasing payments, and… well, let’s just say it as it is, the boring stuff… but I’m afraid to say… it’s a big part of any business, and something that you really do need to get your head around.


Marketing

Opening a Fitness Studio in a busy location will naturally generate local interest, but to open your doors to new clients, requires a little more sizzle. On your open day make some noise, Ross did this by inviting the local press, celebrities, and politicians; as well as his existing clients, friends and family. He advertised using social media and gave away free taster classes and memberships.

Marketing is an ongoing process that will ultimately feed and grow your business, it’s a little like a dripping tap, keep the marketing flowing and the studio will fill. Okay, maybe I need to work on that analogy, but you get the picture, it’s not something you can do once, it is an ongoing process. The way you market will also help to strengthen your brand, we have an article on creating your brand. Oh, and while I think about it, we also have an article on building your business through customer excellence.

the Good

Ross knows his customers, understands their needs, and meets with their objectives. Like all successful studios, he has built his own community.

“Our clients come to Diverse Fitness to meet with their goals, but more than that they come for the community spirit. We have a really friendly atmosphere where people can both work hard and relax with a smoothie at our refreshment bar.”

the Bad

Juggling your time puts your multitasking skills to the test, but remember you can’t do it all, and even if you could, you need to consider the long term effects of working endless hours. Ultimately you need people to help you, and yes they cost money, but you’ve already done your financial projections, so you understand their return. Remember, friends and family are always keen to help, whether that’s cleaning the studio, providing help with social media, or just being there.

and the Ugly

Okay, you know it’s coming, and you’ve probably already got your head around it, but when you’re running your own fitness business it’s very easy to get bogged down in administration, paperwork, accounts, managing bookings, chasing payments, and… well, let’s just say it as it is, the boring stuff… but I’m afraid to say… it’s a big part of any business, and something that you really do need to get your head around.


fitness-training-Torquay-Diverse-Fitnesss-Torbay

So, what can we take from this, well to break it down you need to understand where you are today, and where you want to be in the future. You also need to know your competition, your niche, your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You also need to have a grasp on your finances, understand that Marketing is an ongoing necessity, you need to understand how to keep clients, and grow your business, through customer excellence, know your brand, keep it friendly, and understand all the boring back-end stuff. Phew, I think that touches on most of it, but before we go, we asked Ross if he could give us 3 nuggets of advice for anybody else looking to open their own Studio.

1. “I think the key to any new business is to work hard, work harder than anyone else, and dedicate yourself to helping your clients to achieve their goals. Surround yourself with a great team, good staff members are hard to find, but we have been lucky to have great staff members.”

2. “Get yourself a good management system, we use GO Retrieve and highly recommend it. It has allowed me to focus my time on the things I enjoy, helping my customers. I don’t have to worry about managing my bookings, chasing missed payments, or keeping on top of my paperwork, the system takes care of it all.”  – thanks Ross, £20 in the post 🙂

3. “And my last bit of advice, don’t be afraid to take risks, it’s hard to step out of your comfort zone but it’s very rewarding. As long as you have a plan and believe in yourself, there’s nothing to stop you.”


Lee Wilson - Co-founder of GO Retrieve
Lee Wilson
Managing Director
Tel: 01803 364040
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Lee co-founded GO Retrieve in 2016. He is the Managing Director and principle visionary, with a passion and drive to help fitness professionals to grow their business and free their time.


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Custom Branded Mobile App
Promote your brand with your very own custom-branded mobile app available for IOS and Android. A great way to keep your brand in front of your clients, allowing them to book and pay for all your classes, appointments and workshops.

Engage and re-engage
Send automated and targeted push notifications to remind your clients of upcoming classes and events. Re-engage with clients that have stopped booking with personalised “we miss you” messages. And automatically send ‘Happy Birthday’ messages with a free class if you’re feeling generous.

Secure Payments
Online booking and secure payments for your classes, appointments, and workshops any time of the day or night. Create recurring memberships, single and multiple class passes with added incentives.

Keep your classes full
With online booking and real-time scheduling, your clients can book your classes on the go. And when a class becomes full they can add themselves to your class waiting list. Automatically send Push Notifications when a space becomes available.

Recurring Payments
Create unlimited bespoke memberships with class and appointment flexibility. Automatically create recurring payment collections with a click of a button.

Staff Check-in app
Provide your staff with their own check-in registers, giving them instant access to client details. View emergency contact details, health information and more.