Category Archives: Marketing your studio

6 Reasons a dedicated studio can out-cycle big health clubs

We launched our first studio in 2005 and have had 11 consecutive years of growth in attendance, revenue and profit.   How is that possible when we have a ’boutique’, pay-per class offering, and big health clubs nearby offer cycling classes or Spin® classes as part of their low-cost membership?   A cycling studio, done well, is a classic “niche” business.  The good ones create a unique, effective, entertaining fitness experience that health clubs don’t.  They work for a few reasons:

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, easy to purchase, easy to participate.

3) Flexible payment / no membership commitment.  In a studio, you can pay-per-class and when you don’t attend….you don’t pay.  People are increasingly turning to “best of breed”  fitness offerings from boutique studios and don’t want to be locked-in to long term memberships.

4) Customer experience. 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!  The environment is comfortable, and the classes are not just a workout…they are an experience!

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.  Local charity fundraisers and other events are a key part of the studio vibe.

6) The little things matter. Quality sound, outstanding teachers, attention to detail, lighting, mirrors, equipment, announcing schedule changes and subs, personal touches, amenities

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.
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Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
bill@cyclebar.com
wellesley.cyclebar.com

CycleBar Logo #1

 

A Business that Gives Back….Another reason to love a cycling studio franchise

helping%20handThere are a number of features that make the cycling studio model attractive:  it is highly automated,  relatively easy to operate, it’s a fun product and it can be highly profitable when executed well.  It is also a local business that has a unique ability to give back to the community.

A boutique indoor cycling studio is the most local kind of local business.  Because your core client-riders attend classes 3-5 times per week, they are only like to do this if they live nearby.  Long commutes for fitness are just not practical for most.  Since they live nearby, they know each other and they come to know you and your business well.

As you begin to connect with your community, you will come to hear about dozens of organizations and charities that your clients are passionate about.  You will now have a unique opportunity to help those clients by hosting fundraisers, community mixers,  and charity events.   Your studio will have empty studio time, and CycleBar has developed several, easy-to-manage event-planning systems that you can make the studio available to your community.  These kinds of studio events do several important things.

  1. They provide needed funds to good causes important to your area
  2. They raise the profile and visibility of your CycleBar studio
  3. They bring new people into your studio to get the experience 

Hosting community fundraising events is a true WIN-WIN-WIN.  The charity wins because they raise money, the attendees win because they get the unique cb logo sigCycleBar fitness experience, and the studio wins because awareness and exposure is heightened.  Note:  the cost of running these events for you as a business owner is close to zero.

Yes this is a business that makes people fit.  Yes, this is a business that is fun.  Yes, this is a business that is highly automated, and Yes, can be is a highly profitable business.  It is also a business that is uniquely positioned to help the community you are a part of.

We are now operating the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar provides a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.

Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

 

Biggest Mistake by Startup Cycling Studios

“…..From the moment you sign your lease, you should think of having two simultaneous construction projects underway 1) The buildout of your space and 2) The building of a marketing  plan…..”

Many studio-starters obsess over space buildout and ignore marketing.  Marketing is not cheap, and marketing is not easy, but marketing needs to be done — especially during the “pre-opening” period.  It is building your community and it is driving traffic into the studio. Making a nice studio space is only one  component in making a successful and profitable fitness studio business. (Note:  one of the major  advantages of opting to go the franchise route, is that branding and marketing are heavily addressed as part of what you receive when you purchase a franchise.)

I have been somehow involved with the startup of over 80 cycling studios in the past few years.  I’ve seen raging successes and I’ve seen a few go under.  I am also a business owner of my own studios….I’ve launched them from scratch…..I taught classes in the early days with 2 or 3 people in a class…..I’ve worried about paying too much for rent…I’ve stressed over finding great instructors…..and I’ve also watched my studios grow to become mature, profitable, rewarding businesses.   My opinions flow from the day to day work of managing a studio, and from living off the income that a studio produces.  That knowledge and experience has been put into our new cycling studio franchise company:  CycleBar, the first and only indoor cycling studio franchise.

Biggest Mistakes Made By Cycling Studio Startups? 

Other than choosing the wrong location (a critical topic for another day), a key mistake made by startups is NOT TAKING MARKETING SERIOUSLY…..also known as focusing on the wrong things.  You need to spend time AND money on marketing.  If you aren’t good yourself, then outsource it.  Note:  with CycleBar franchises several key marketing elements are pre-built for you,  brand development and Grand Opening plan.

As an entrepreneur, you only have so many hours in the day and you will need to pick and choose what to focus on.  The things you need to focus on are the things that have the best chance of driving new attendees into your studio.  In my opinion that is 1) INSTRUCTORS and 2) MARKETING.  After years of operating  still wake up every day thinking about these 2 items, because they are the most important things to make our business grow.

….more important than what kind of bikes I have
….more important than lighting
….more important than flooring and fans

Yes, it is important to create a cool  studio and a nice environment….but ultimately it is equally important to have great instructors and to have a marketing plan that drives new riders into the studio to experience them. Many studio startups make the mistake of neglecting this business reality, and that creates a real business problem…..low attendance.

Let me finish this post the way it started.

“…..From the moment you sign your lease, you should think of having two 
simultaneous construction projects underway 1) The buildout of your space and  2) The building of a marketing  plan…..”

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.
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Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
781-254-3677
bill@cyclebar.com

CycleBar Logo #1

 

 

Competing (and thriving) against the Big Guys: Soul Cycle and FlyWheel

Back in the day (3 or 4 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 their 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.

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.
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Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
781-254-3677
info@spynergyconsulting.com
bill@cyclebar.com


CycleBar Logo #1

Vision for your Spin® or Cycling studio…define it.

In each successful studio I have seen or been involved with there is also a crisp Vision for what the customer experience is going to be.  I don’t mean your vision for the size or scale of the business, I mean your gut sense of what your customers are going to respond to, to love and to keep coming back for.

Each ownership must define it for themself.   In the case of our 10-year old studio and of our new cycling studio franchise called CycleBar,  the vision is around creating an awesome ‘experience’ in the studio, and creating a true community.  It also around the idea of “great workout / great fun”.    Great instructors with a true passion for the music are critical to this concept in our vision — But it all ties to the idea that exercise does NOT have to be drudgery….it can and should be both effective AND fun.

Some successful studios stress the amazing Mind-Body connection in cycling classes or ideas of empowerment and taking control.  Others focus on the intensity, competition, and inner drive that classes bring out.  CycleBar actually has elements of all of these in our selection of classes…take a look at our list of class types to get an idea.  Driving a vision into the market is critical.

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.

Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
781-254-3677   
bill@cyclebar.com

CycleBar Logo #1

 

 

 

Cycling and official Spin® studio market research

If you get your studio up and running would you be surprised to find out that over 50% of  customers also belong to a health club?*

That’s what we found when we conducted a survey of our customers.   We own a 48-bike studio outside Boston that will be 7 years old this coming spring.  This September and October were our best months ever and we have enjoyed steady growth in revenue and attendance since opening in 2005.  (Note:  October attendance was up 14% over last October and revenue was up 19% over last October).

I recently reviewed a survey we conducted of our cycling studio visitors.  Some things were expected, some were actually quite surprising, here are a few things I found interesting:

  1. 53% belong to a health club or fitness center*
  2. 35% claim “regular” outside riding (65% do NOT)
  3. Other popular activities by students:  Running (48%), Yoga, Weight Training, & Personal Training  (all over 30%).
  4. “Quality of Instructors” was cited as the most important factor in client satisfaction
  5. Online reservation system, convenient location and music were all more important to customer satisfaction than type of bikes used,
  6. 75% of regular visitors live within 5 miles of the studio
  7. 10% travel more than 10 miles to attend classes.

*In the comments section of the survey several clients noted they had spin classes at their club but there were serious complaints about reservation systems, bike maintenance and instructor quality.

Inexpensive online survey tools from Constant Contact or Survey Monkey are ideal to gather this kind of information that is helpful for marketing.  We also asked our clients to rate instructors and to give us feedback on new potential class times.

Spynergy Consulting has operated cycling studios for 9 years and has worked closely with over 80 individual cycling studio startup projects.  We have recently formed a new company called CycleBar:  the first indoor cycling studio franchise.  CycleBar will provide a turnkey cycling studio solution from top to bottom.

Learn More / Get Complete Details
Click Here
 to fill out our candidate questionnaire and you will receive a call where you will learn full details on startup costs, franchise fees, financial history of existing studios,  operations, branding, marketing and more.

Bill Pryor
bill@cyclebar.com

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Marketing your cycling or official Spin® studio: 3 Core Planks

Advertising and direct mail used to be primary drivers of new fitness clients.  Yes, you should still do some of this……but we believe there are 3 Core Marketing “Planks” to help  build your business.

Marketing Plank #1:  making your business “findable” online is one of the best things you can do to get new customers.    To learn a bit about this whole topic, you can read the Spynergy Consulting blog post called “Hey, it’s your Google Rank” man, where we discuss the idea of an “online foot print”.   Getting found by search engines is not about spending a bunch of money on Google Adwords, or SEO services……it’s about:

a) doing some basics on your core web site
b) posting regular, relevant content posted to your site (blogging)
c) encouraging inbound links from  credible sites.
d) engaging selectively and actively in social media (Facebook, Yelp, YouTube)

Based on my studio’s 7-year history, along with online “findability” there are two other “planks” that are effective in spurring word of mouth to build your studio’s attendance.

Marketing Plank #2: Email marketing — Use Constant Contact (or Mail Chimp)  templates.  For $15 a month (free if you are an MBO customer) you can set up a Constant Contact account and start gathering names of potential customers.  This list of emails  will be highly valuable to you later.  If you are looking for content ideas for your email promotions, we have done hundreds at Spynergy and would be happy to discuss.

Marketing Plank #3:  Guerilla marketing — This includes a range of things like cross-promotions with neighbors, studio events, fundraisers, school PTA projects, and more.  Done well, these are powerful……and generally inexpensive.  It also connects you to valuable communities.  Be sure to plan some of this in your annual marketing plan…..and set aside marketing funds!!  Especially at the beginning

 

Summer marketing for fitness and cycling studios……take a deep breath

Summer Marketing?  Yikes….take a deep breath.

Whether you operate in the colder states of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West, or in the moderate climates of the South or the Far West…….the summer slows down.   Even in places where the summer heat is intolerable for outdoor work outs, the summer slows down.
Outdoor exercise and nicer weather is part of the reason, but more importantly the “rhythm” of people’s lives changes dramatically in the summer.  School is out which directly or indirectly affects a huge percentage of your customers, and of course it is a time where many people take time for special trips and vacations.  For most local business, and definitely for fitness businesses….the summer slows down.
|Can you change that?  No.  Remember that old saying about “Give me the strength to change the things I can….etc. etc. etc.?   It’s true!  Remember it this summer.  Can you take some steps to minimize the slow down?  Yes.   Here are five Spynergy Consulting strategies for dealing with summer.

  1. Target specialty niches. Even though your core customers are fewer, there may be groups you don’t typically target during the year.  Students are an obvious one, what about seniors?  Teachers?  Tourists and visitiors?  Town employees?  Others?
  2. Good time for discounting. Since your sellouts will be fewer, what about Groupon deals, or annual “sales” where you discount.  Make the offers limited time and for limited term (“40% off 10-class package, must be used by labor day”)
  3. Specialty classes. Heartrate training, outside ride themes, Tour de France, musical themes, anything to spice things up a bit.
  4. Customer events.  Informal outdoor “group ride” starting at your studio, or even a “thank you” beach party that you ride your bike to.
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  5. Most important….”take a deep breath”. It’s OK to be slower.  Plan for it to be slower, don’t beat your head against the wall.  Use it as a time to spruce up, organize fall marketing, complete long-delayed projects, work on your playlists and take some time off yourself to re-charge your own engine!  C’mon…give yourself a break.

Each part of the country and the world  has it’s own rhythm…don’t fight it.  After 7 years operating in Boston, we know we have 6 months of “high season” (Nov thru April)  4 months of mid-season (Sept, Oct, May, June), and 2 months of “down season” (July and August).  We budget and plan for it being sure to optimize efforts when they will do the most good —- and “taking a deep breath” when our customers do too.

Spynergy Consulting provides marketing and operational consulting to fitness studio owners and mangers. Contact Bill to brainstorm: billpryor@comcast.net

Targeting all types for your indoor cycling or official SPIN® studio

targetWho’s your target customer?   If your studio is like most…..there is not one correct answer and there are multiple groups that you can attract.   One way to think about the two broad communities your studio will likely serve is as Fitness and Training oriented riders.

Fitness riders are not outside cyclists, are not training for an event and are likely primarily concerned with conditioning and weight control.  Training riders have a sport, race or event they are thinking about, it could be cycling but it could be something else.

Each of these types of clients can become  dedicated loyal participants if you cater to their needs and construct an environment they like…..AND they can co-exist nicely.  Our studio has 48 bikes and 30+ classes a week and I have seen it every day in my studio.

Four Tips For Attracting and Retaining ‘Fitness’ Riders
1)  Provide useful articles and content regarding nutrition, weight control and how the cycling workout can be most effective
2)  Provide free “intro” sessions so newcomers can learn properly.  It is important to de-mystify cycling classes for many who think it may be too intense.
3)  Be careful the environment is non-intimidating to all fitness levels.  One of the reasons you will attract people who won’t walk into a large gym is because your place is friendlier and less intimidating.
4) Actively talk about and promote your appeal to beginners as well as to advanced cyclists and fitness levels.

Four Tips for Attracting and Retain ‘Training’ Riders
1)  Find instructors that are outside riders or active athletes and speak the language
2)  Educate yourself and your team on Heart rate, cadence, power and other metrics that help folks understand what they are accomplishing.
3)  Create and note special classes on the schedule that promote
specific training objectives (endurance, intervals, etc.).
4) Provide informative articles and content about the latest in training methods and technology

Online coupon marketing (Groupon, etc.) The good, the bad, the ugly

OK, these things work….really work.  But there are some things to think about and consider.  Be careful before rushing right in:

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The Good:  hundreds of new bodies will walk into your studio
The Bad:  many are bargain hunters you will never see again
The Ugly:  if you’re not careful, they will take the seats of your full price regulars

There are some things you can do to optimize this powerful new advertising medium.  For a complete round-up and analysis of how these things work and what to consider, check our sister blog site  www.cyclingstudio.org