So you own a fitness studio. There comes a point in every entrepreneur’s life when they start to think, “Wow, this is going really well. Is it time to expand?” Then comes the overwhelming wave of fear: fear of getting too big, fear of being responsible for a larger overhead, and of course, fear of failure. Expansion in a fitness business often means opening a second location, which can be financially beneficial,y if done properly. It is important to be strategic about expansion and not just jump into something…especially if you already have one thriving location. However, sometimes taking a risk is the best thing you can do for your business! Although scary, taking a risk could pay off big time.
If you are considering opening a second location of your current training studio, here are six things you will want to consider before taking the leap. (If you’re thinking of opening your first location, you can also check out this article about opening your first location.)
1. Set a Clear Objective
You should decide on your goals for this new location in advance. Whether it be an increase in profits, an expansion of your brand’s reach, or extension of your service offering, your goals (and a plan to reach those goals) should be solidified for your new location.
2. Know the Market
Where are you going to open this new location? How far is it from your current location? How does the demographic in this new location compare to the demographics of the majority of your clientele? What are the operating costs (insurance, lease and mortgage rates, utilities, etc.) in this new location? By mapping out all of your overhead costs in the beginning, you’ll be able to make a plan for how you are going to cover these costs – a very important point in both profitability and stress management.
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3. Make Sure Your Existing Location is Self-Sufficient
This is probably the most difficult aspect every business owner deals with when trying to expand. Being the owner of the business, clients often only want to train with you. Although it’s a great compliment, the whole idea of building studios is to have more time to work on the business instead of in the business – and have our classes, sessions, and programs run by other well-trained fitness coaches. Is your current business self-sufficient? Can it run without you there? When you go on vacation, does everything run smoothly without you there? If you don’t have the current location to the point of running without you, then I suggest you work on that before expanding to a second location. Once the current location is at that point, then you can work on that second location and build it up the same standards. Do not trick yourself into thinking you will have enough time to split your time between two different locations because trust me: you won’t!
4. Build a Pro Team
Finding and hiring good staff can be very difficult, so strategizing how exactly to staff your new fitness studio location will be beneficial in the long run. Are you going to have your current staff move to the new location? Are you going to hire all new staff? Where are you going to work? If you do plan to hire new staff, how far in advance will you hire that staff? Will they be working in your current location while the new one is built or will you have them just start in the new location? I would suggest speaking with your current staff and keep them in the loop of your plans to make sure they are on board with the new venture and excited about the new opportunities it presents.
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5. Keep the Culture
Do you have a culture and vibe at your current fitness studio? A sense of community—also known as a “fit fam” vibe? It is hard work to build a community feel in a studio, and to get all the coaches and clients engaged with that community. How are you going to keep this vibe going in the new location? It will be a new building, new staff (possibly), new neighbourhood, and new clients. It’s almost like you’re starting from scratch, so it’s important to think about how you are going to start establishing this community from opening day! Start by taking your three favourite things from your existing community and coming up with ways to apply those elements in your new space.
6. Redefine Your Business
Expanding a fitness business from one location to two (or more!) is a very big and exciting step, which can re-define the overall branding and culture of your business. It’s a pretty big deal and could change the way you market and talk about your business in a public setting. You will want to re-define your mission statement and how you are going to market your business to the public going forward. You should also think about how this location will contribute to your overall brand, and anticipate those changes.
As you can see there are many elements of business to consider when expanding your footprint to a second location. But don’t get scared away! You survived the hard work the first time, and if you are at the point of thinking about a second location, you’ve clearly been successful at it! If done correctly, this expansion could be a very good move. So take your time, think it through, and then go after it.