Expanding your fitness business - What you wish you'd be told
You have a great concept, your studio is full and profitability is at an all time high. So maybe now is the best time to expand to your 2nd or 3rd fitness studio? If you've done the research, you've spoken to peers and you've run the number you may still not know the fundamentals of day to day in expanding your fitness business. So we've broken it down with real life knowledge on the good, bad and the ugly of fitness business expansion.
At Hapana, we have had the privilege of supporting so many brands in their expansion efforts, many brands from 2 studios to over 60 studios and a long the way we have picked up some invaluable tips and tricks of the trade.
Location, location, location
When talking with Corey Loehr, Hapana's CRO, common feedback from successful partners opening second or third studios is: open nearby. "We have seen the most successful business expansions happen when our partners open their second or third studio in close proximity to their first. They know the area demographic, they know the local area partners and they also know retail site prices, rents and overheads" Loehr comments.
Loehr's main learning from speaking to brands who have successfully expanded is having your studios close to each other saves you valuable time. Some of our brands have recognised that if they had the opportunity to expand their business' again they would opt to have their studios geographically closer to each other. "Expanding your fitness business from one studio to multiple studios duplicates the demand for your time. If your studios are an hour apart from each other you are wasting two, three, sometimes even four hours of your working day just commuting between the sites. This makes it hard to have that valuable face to face time with your members, but also with the teams running your studios" Loehr comments.
"If you have your studios 20 minutes from each other, you can have your studio managers meet in the middle for a team meeting, you can catch the 5am class in one location and be there for the end of the 6am class to high five members on their way out." Loehr continues, "this proves unattainable when studios span across cities or states, resulting in one business consistently lacking the founder's invaluable attention."
Patience is a virtue
"Think back to day one of starting your fitness business, did everything go to plan? When I worked at studios this certainly wasn't the case" explains our Head of Marketing, Angharad Saynor. "this is the same when expanding to your second or third site, and I have always found from experience, that studios who take their time finding the perfect second site, take their time setting up a thoughtful and lengthy presale with high targets for pre opening recurring revenue are the ones who hit the ground running on opening day and are more likely to open the next site sooner."
When looking to expand your fitness business from 1 site to multiple sites having a marketing plan that can be flexible is vital. If you have a 6 week presale, manage expectations to delay that to 8 weeks, and utilise your first studio. Send sign up's merch or a free walk around of your first studio, get creative and don't panic when it takes slightly longer than you had planned on paper, remember, good things come to those who wait!
Automation is everything
Saynor emphasises automating for two key reasons: cost-saving and time efficiency. "If you have a software that enables you to automate billing, outreach, social posts and also automatically report on your studios growth, this can save you so much time that can be focused on training instructors, or other members of your team, finding new location possibilities and other expansion opportunities." This not only conserves time but also reduces staffing expenses. "Most people are automating some parts of their business's, but adding things like automated check in reduces the need of front of house staff. This in turn allows instructors to spend their time with new members giving them the best first time experience in your studio," she adds. If you're in need of a better solution for your software, we definitely know of one *wink wink*
As an added bonus, when expanding your fitness studio, a tool that can report across all of your studio locations enables you to have clear visibility on what is going well in your business, and areas that may need your focus. This can help direct your time and resource to the areas your businesses need and give you the visibility across all of your studios without having to physically be there.
Keep your numbers in shape
Corey Loehr is the expert when it comes to crunching the numbers. When he speaks to our brands about their plans for expansion he asks the specifics. "Knowing your membership number and your studios breakeven point is vital when thinking about expanding your fitness business" he starts. "Make sure you are tracking class attendance levels, customer acquisition costs, and direct debit revenue. These are basics when looking at expanding. If your current studio is not performing in certain areas you could really struggle when opening your second." Loerh adds to this "creating a report where you can easily track attendance, revenue and CAC (customer acquisition cost) will help you make the best choices for your business when looking to expand. It will also help you once you have multiple locations to have clear visabilty over the perfomance of your sites."
If you're already at 4 sites and looking to potentially start franchising your business, or you've got 1 site which is doing well and you're looking to expand your fitness business, then keep these tips and tricks at the forefront of your mind when making decisions. Or alternatively, book in a call with of our experts to see how Hapana can help you with that expansion.