Back in the day (2 years ago), we wrote heavily about all the cool ways you can compete with box gyms…..now many studio-owners are more concerned with Soul Cycle and FlyWheel.
Guess what? For two of my independent cycling studio owner clients….a FlyWheel has opened up near them early this year….and the independent studio business has gotten BETTER since that happened.
OK, yes the “uber-studios” are popping up in a lot of places. In a previous article I suggested this is GOOD for the independent cycling studio owner because it raises the profile of the whole amazing phenomena of indoor cycling studios. I still believe that — though a few owners in direct competition have told me their work has become harder for sure. But guess what, those guys are still doing great.
Hey, for most of us toiling in communities and neighborhoods all over the country (and all over the world), FlyWheel and Soul Cycle are never going to appear across the street. But whether they do or whether they don’t…..here are a few ideas for securing your business.
1) Be a better value. Yes, beat them on price. They have more overhead than you do, and they have investors requiring higher margins than you need….they HAVE to charge a lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean they make more money than you. Independent studios can generate high margins without exorbitant rates.
2) Stress that you’re local. Many riders like that you’re local, that you know the area, and that you “get” the local vibe. They like seeing the owner and they like knowing they are supporting a locally owned business.
3) Be true to your vision. Create your own type of classes and experience without worrying about what your competition does. Let your clients be your guide and don’t imitate the big guys out of fear.
4) Don’t panic, and don’t be afraid to co-exist. The reality is there is room in most markets for multiple studios. Indoor cycling is expanding, not contracting as more and more people recognize the benefits of the workout and of the studio model.
Quotes from studio owners where “big guys” have opened nearby.
“….I’m in the suburbs, they’re in the city, there has been virtually no impact on my business, we’ve never been stronger…”
”….I honestly think they’ve helped my business. More people are spinning because of them, and some learn with them and then go find something more affordable….”
“…..They opened 8 blocks from me in the city. It has made me spend more time at the studio connecting with my clients. I was freaked out at first, but now it’s been months and my business has never been stronger so I’m breathing easier…..”
“….They’re two towns over, not really direct competition, but I’ve gotten a few new clients who tried their place, loved the workout, but wanted somewhere cheaper to do it…..”
One caveat / “reality check”…….the existence of the big guys has raised-the-bar in certain ways and you will need to have a generally higher quality environment, and especially high quality instructors. Both can be built into your model, but do require more cost.