How much planning did you do (or should you do), before launching your new cycling studio?
What research did you complete to understand the difference between successful studios and those that are struggling?
Fitness entrepreneur Callie Bowling has completed an exhaustive planning process in anticipation of opening a new Indoor Cycling Studio in Boise Idaho next fall. Callie interviewed over a dozen studio owners and she shares what's working… what's not and what she sees as the future of boutique Indoor Cycling studios.
This interview is an hour long, and needed to be to record much of what Callie has learned.
If you own a studio, or are considering opening one, I suggest grabbing a pen and paper, find a quiet spot (maybe with a hot tea) and listen to the podcast below in it's entirety, while taking notes – I consider this one of my top five episodes ever, it's that good 🙂
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I was originally alerted to Callie Bowling by Amy – she had talked with her and was very impressed by how thorough she was in her business planning and the amount of research she had done via interviews with other studio owners.
So I reached out to Callie about possibly appearing on the show. This was her response 🙂
Let me give you a little background, so you can be thinking of questions on your end:
I have learned quite a bit actually, so much that just when my business plan and financials were all buttoned-up and ready to go – I was literally sitting across the table from my lender – I decided to go back to the drawing board to lay some more ground work (A MUST) and further examine my goals for my business and a smarter implementation strategy solely based on the experiences I obtained from interviewing eight indoor cycling studios across the nation. I learned a lot, the owners of these businesses were extremely generous with their time and the truly sensitive information they were divulging (the scary icky stuff like money)… lol, perhaps it's my degree in Psychology, but I've usually never had a problem getting people to open up around me… it's a double-edged sword 😉
I've learned this “dream” for us who wish to open these studios is always opened with the best intentions and out of a passion for the “sport”; we're all fitness enthusiasts who wanted to bring our passion to our communities and also make a fortune at it! I mean why not, the preliminary financials reflect success, which is a super simple function of attendance… it seems like a no-brainer right!? Get people in the door and become profitable… minimal overhead, no accounts receivables, cash based service industry, no inventory, etc. … the business model is set up for instant success! I'm sure you see I'm being simplistic and sarcastic, because nothing in life is ever that easy, and if it looks easy… take a deeper look, because you're probably missing something 🙂
With that said, there have definitely been some strong and shared commonalities amongst the failures and the successes amongst studio owners that can't be ignored… but, they're probably taboo to talk about so no one ever does, because no one likes to admit they've failed or fallen flat on their face… but, the truth is the truth, and in the same token no wants to invest their life's savings or nest egg into a business that might be doomed from the get-go, so we need to talk about it.
I will say, I don't know what came over me, but I emailed studios in XX, YY, ZZ, BB, NN, RR, and FF (on the podcast I won't disclose which states though to respect and maintain the anonymity of these studios, because in some states there is literally just one studio, so that would probably give it away, and the information they shared is certainly sensitive – we can just accurately say I reached out to studio owners across the nation) and I didn't know what to expect. I was equipped with my generic list of questions, but those soon fell to the wayside and the conversation became personal and very much a theoretical conversation about what it takes to survive as an entrepreneur in our industry and what those basic principles are.
Alas, we can go over all of this & more on the podcast, I'm loaded with info, lol, and honestly I think the things I am ready to touch on will be useful information not just for others in the “pre-startup” phase, but also for any studio owner in general that is perhaps struggling or “hemorrhaging” (as one studio owner stated) and can draw even the smallest parallels in their own business with what I have understood has also been choke holding others.
What do you think!??! 🙂
P.S. Here's the juiciest part… I think I see the future of our industry!!! lol… that may be a bit pompous for me to predict, but I've done a lot of research and there are signs and clues I'd love to cover!
Callie Kelley Bowling
Founder & CEO
CKB Fitness, Inc.
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.