Setting Your Business Up For Success
By: Lindsey Richardson, Director of Marketing, Fitness Quest 10
Opening a new business is one of the most exciting times. I like to look at it as a fresh start, new rules, new systems, new team, and the best part, you have the power to create whatever you want. But, with that new start, comes a very large responsibility. When you are opening your doors, you are shaping your business, you are creating your first impressions, and what you put out there is how people will view your business in the community for years to come.
I was recently asked about opening a new business. I have a passion for opening new businesses. I have opened new restaurants, new retail spaces, I have hired on a team of 30 in a consolidated 6 weeks timeline, but I have also had to go into the doors of a business that was not set up for success. I have worked with many businesses that did not create their systems right from the beginning, and let me tell you, to turn around the systems, the team, to retrain and redo, takes a lot of time and effort. So I have created a list of the 10 ways to set your business and marketing up for success from the very beginning.
1. Programming, establish what type of facility you are from the very beginning: From the very beginning, you must establish what type of gym you are. Are you a small group training facility? Are you a Personal Training Facility? What is going to be your bread and butter? It is ok to have other services, but really focus in on what style of programming you want to have as your main product. When I go out to eat and I go to a restaurant that has asian cuisine and then I see pizza on the menu, I get confused. I start to wonder if their food is even good? I get nervous and often times regret my decision of sitting down there, solely because I want to go to a place that specializes in something, not a place that tries to be good at 10 things.
2. What is your WHY? We speak a lot about Simon Sinek’s “Start with the why,” and it is important to establish from the beginning why you are in business. Every one of your marketing pieces should incorporate this why. If you are in business to make people’s lives better, then use testimonials of people talking about why your business makes their life better every single day. Remember this theme as you are creating all of your marketing material.
3. Systems, Systems, Systems: Lets just be honest here, systems are not fun. They are a pain to set up. But they are necessary. Set up your systems from the very beginning. Lay these out step by step. For example, we have community boards in our gym; these boards need to be changed monthly and some of them weekly. We have laid out exactly who is responsible for changing these and who is responsible for getting the new content to put on these boards. We wrote it out, assigned all parties, and now it is simply following up to make sure it is done every month. This goes for everything from marketing, to operations. Take the time to write out everything you need a system for. Write out all of the systems in a notebook, train all parties involved and then continue to follow up with it. Setting up systems a few years into your business is far more painful, I promise.
4. Create your brand image: You must create what you want your brand to look like. Think of it this way, when a consumer hears the name of your business, what do you want them to think of? Apple is a great example. When I see the Apple logo, I think innovation, leading technology, sleek, quality. The list goes on and on, but when you create your logo, that represents your brands image. You want to pick a color scheme for your logo, then work with a graphics person. Tell them what you want that logo to represent. A good graphics person will be able to create the look and feel you want through you using those descriptive words. If someone picks up a random piece of marketing material without your address, they should know that it is your business because of the look and feel of it.
5. Create Marketing Material that is in line with your branding: Once you have decided on your logo and branding, you want all of your marketing material to be in line with this image. From the start, decide what marketing material you will have. Will you have a membership brochure? Will you have guest passes? My suggestion is this, have one marketing piece where someone can very easily see all of your services. Then create a guest pass where they can come back in and receive your free services. Keep it simple, you want to create a marketing piece that will end up on someone’s refrigerator, not in the trash. Invest in these pieces, hire a professional graphics person if that is not your expertise, take the time to do this now, so your only cost moving forward is to reprint them.
6. Online Marketing, decide which social media channels you are going to be a player in: Everyone has a different philosophy when it comes to which online marketing sites you should use. Here is my philosophy, only put business on an online network if you are going to establish a system to update it. There is nothing worse than going to a site that hasn’t been updated for months. No one is going to follow you if you don’t put out fresh content. So, 2 major points here. The first, decide which networks you will be a part of. My suggestion, start with a website, facebook and twitter, and link these so you don’t have to create as many posts. If you can’t afford a website, start with a facebook page. Create a system for who will be updating these and how often. Establish a weekly audit list to ensure that nothing is outdated. And if you can’t manage these, hire an intern or someone in college to help you, college students these days are very savvy when it comes to online marketing.
7. Community Outreach: The only thing you should be doing 8 weeks before you are opening your store is strategically placing yourself in the community. You should be at every community event, you should walk up and introduce yourself to every local business owner, every person in your town should know your name. Hitting the streets is the best form of marketing and it is FREE!
8. Hire on a team that embodies your culture: When looking at hiring a team, you first need to look at what type of culture you want to have in your business. One bad apple can spoil the bunch, this may seem cliché, but it is true. Each and every person you hire needs to embody and scream your company culture. These people are your best form of advertising. They are going to be out in the community telling people where they work, and if they are not representing your brand well, no branding, marketing or advertising, can change that impression in the consumers mind. I like to think about it like dating, would you want to surround yourself with this person each day? Ask yourself that question each time and trust your gut.
9. Hire on a team that fulfills different roles: For this rule I am going to need you to put your ego aside. When hiring your team, it is natural to hire someone like you, but that is not always what you need. As a leader you need to recognize your weaknesses and surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses. Being a leader does not mean it always has to be about you. The true test of a leader is a success of their TEAM. So if you are awful at online marketing, hire someone that is great at it. If your strength is personal training, but you want to have group classes, hire someone who is strong at group classes and assign them that program. Surround yourself with people that will help to create that overall experience you want your facility to embody.
10. Hire on key players in the community: There is a local yoga teacher in San Diego that teaches all over. It is known that if you want to attend his class, you must arrive 45 minutes beforehand to get a spot. There is a line outside the door when you arrive for the class, you can’t save spots, and it is literally every man for themselves when they open up the doors to put the mats down. Once the class is full, they take no one else. And the class is full 45 minutes before the start time. This is the type of teacher that you want at your facility. And when your teacher’s classes aren’t filling up, look at the content, take their class, put yourself in the consumers shoes. Ask yourself, who is the target market for this class and if I was them, would I be satisfied with my experience?
So there you have it. 10 tips to help you set up your business successfully from the start. Take advantage of the beginning, it is new, fresh and you can mold your business into whatever you want it to be. You have the power!