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SIX LESSONS FOR OPERATORS INTERESTED IN LAUNCHING A BOUTIQUE 1 Evolving your health and fitness business requires a different way of thinking. As Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Stay abreast of trends, both in the club industry and the general marketplace. Be open to new ways of evolving the value proposition of your business. For some that might mean extending the brand through a standalone boutique fitness studio; for others it might be about adapting the delivery of the present value proposition to leverage the innovation offered by boutiques. 2 Understand the core competencies and brand promise of your business, then determine if these align with operating a boutique experience. Several of our interviewees said boutique operation requires specialist experience – in particular when it comes to the level of talent required among instructors and staff, the quality of the programmes, the building of communities, and marketing. What you can’t do is take what your club presently does and dump it into a studio; it won’t work. Also, ask yourself if you have the talent to make it work. Finally, ask yourself if it might not be

better to stick to what you do best, but evolve it to the demands of today’s consumer preferences. Don’t dilute your own brand’s strengths in an effort to try and be something you aren’t. 3 If you decide to operate a boutique studio, separate from the traditional business, both in management and branding. A common theme expressed by many of our interviewees, and supported by research our firm has conducted, is the importance of separating the DNA of your existing business from the studio’s DNA. A studio requires different thinking and different actions, and as a result must be distinctly separate from your existing cultural DNA. Furthermore, the boutique studio needs to be a distinctly different brand, with its own promise, attitude, voice and persona. Along these same lines, it appears the studio needs its own location, as locating it within your existing facilities precludes the creation of a separate cultural DNA and brand promise. 4 Marketing the studio requires an entirely different approach compared to marketing a traditional fitness club. Word-of-mouth and social media lie at the core of the studio marketing

ABOUT THE AUTHORS Stephen Tharrett (left) is a 35-year veteran of the fitness industry, having served in multiple leadership roles, including CEO of the Russian Fitness Group, SVP for ClubCorp and president of IHRSA. Mark Williamson (right) has over 25 years’ experience in market


research, working for some of the largest hospitality brands in the world. Stephen and Mark are the co-founders of ClubIntel (www.club-intel.com), a brand insights firm based in the US. Stephen can be reached at stevet@club-intel.com

healthclubmanagement.co.uk September 2016 ©Cybertrek 2016

approach. Furthermore, it’s about your people building micro-communities using instructor social networks as well as those of their fans. It also requires your social media strategy to possess a high degree of trusted authenticity. 5 Studios are about helping people find their tribe. While every club has a few small, organically-driven tribes among its membership, studios thrive or die based on their ability to foster a strong, passionate, social community. And building community doesn’t happen passively – it requires disciplined effort. The studio has to be relevant, aspirational, trusted and intimate in the way that it speaks to its audience. Nothing about the experience can be cookie-cutter or artificial. 6 The instructors and staff have to feel it’s their life. Your studio staff have to develop a powerful sense of ownership of the studio experience. If they just feel like employees, they will never buy into the studio’s vision, and consequently your business will never be able to generate the necessary buzz and commitment. In addition, your instructors really have to be the crème de la crème – the very best instructors in the market.

Profile for Leisure Media

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.