23 December 2020
Studio Pilates

Why Join a Network?

Where are the advantages in joining  the Studio Pilates Network rather than running your own independent studio? We asked two franchisees who have made that journey about their experience, and the critical pain points that made them decide to join an established brand instead. First in the hot seat was Physio Tom Wyer. Has owned a physiotherapy practice in Sydney CBD for more than 12 years Tom had taken reformer training and matwork training courses with Studio Pilates. So when he found he was regularly advising clients on introducing Pilates exercises, he opened up classes within his practice. However he found that there were a number of major limitations. The small amount of space within the clinic meant the class sizes also needed to be small (only four clients at a time), so it provided minimal financial benefit. I was also limited in being able to provide a wide and interesting variety of Pilates exercises, finding the time to plan and introduce regular programme updates was a real headache. And one of the biggest issues was finding physiotherapists who were adept in teaching Pilates.  I had undertaken training reformer and matwork training courses with Studio Pilates in the past and, when I discovered they were offering franchise opportunities, I realised that this franchise model would solve a lot of the issues I was having running classes myself.  It also came along with a marketing team and host of other resources that would streamline a successful venture. So Tom took the leap and opened a Studio Pilates location in Sydney CBD. We asked him to share some of the aspects of his experience in switching from independent studio to franchisee, and whether the change had helped with his previous pain points. How have you found the change?  The studio has been established for 18 months and things are definitely going well. I’m very happy with my decision - the whole network seems to be firing and is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact it feels like we are pretty much at capacity. No more programming headaches - the turn-key systems approach really appeals to me. Having classes automatically updated on the audiovisual system daily, with a structure every instructor is able to follow with ease, was a real plus and really reduced workload from an organisational perspective. And recruitment is now so much easier. We have a wide variety of world class instructors to select from and the hiring process is easy because everyone completes the same training, so there is consistency.  The Studio Pilates instructor training program ensures they really understand anatomy, the exact purpose of the exercise and how to modify each exercise according to injury or ability.  Is there anything you would change if you were doing it again? Yes, I think next time I would recruit an admin assistant with a background in the fitness industry or even just in sales, which would have allowed us to grow at a much faster rate. We’ve now focussed in on this area and it has made a world of difference.   And how have you found the experience of being part of a network rather than independent? I have to say, Studio Pilates is a solid machine,  no stone is left unturned and HQ is very diligent, wanting the best for every franchisee.   In terms of an intense, specific, fun and safe workout, the Studio Pilates model is a standout. It has been structured in a way that makes it very user-friendly and offers enough variety to keep clients returning again and again. We recently ran an awards night for the 30DC and had a room full of raving fans who were telling me throughout how 'addicted' they are and all the benefits they have noticed and the fact that they love being part of a boutique pilates experience.  What would you say is the biggest win? Nothing beats the job satisfaction and reward of seeing people improve, not only physically but also in other areas of life, due to nurturing their health. And being around healthy like minded people all day is a nice place to call work! Thanks Tom, great to see everything going so well!   Next under the spotlight is Julia Clarke. Got the bug with her first Studio Pilates course in Matwork, progressing through Advanced Circles and Bands, Reformer 1, and Advanced Reformer, completing Cadillac and Wundachair in 2016.  Wanting a change from her career in Hairdressing, Julia retrained in Fitness at Curtin University of Technology in WA. She got the Pilates bug and completed her first Studio Pilates course in 2011 with Matwork, progressing through Advanced Circles and Bands, Reformer 1, and Advanced Reformer, before completing Cadillac and Wundachair in 2016.  Based in Esperance, she ran a small independent studio from 2013, for individuals and small groups. But while on holiday she dragged her husband Darren off the beach and into Studio Pilates Cairns, and an idea was born!  They moved to Perth and opened Studio Pilates West Leederville, in 2019.  What do you think of the Studio Pilates Franchise experience Julia? It’s completely different from what I was doing before. This business feels very grown up -  I’ve had to develop into a businesswoman, and learn to manage a team of 11! With a Studio Pilates Franchise, all the issues have been thought through and sorted for you, and I really enjoy the order and structure - everything looks and feels very professional, just how I like it. I really don’t know how people open a studio of any size without help, you can’t do everything yourself and I imagine the operations side would be quite daunting - the booking software, class and package pricing, programming and so on.  And setting up a website, running social media and promoting your business is quite difficult and time consuming when you’re on your own, whereas centralised Marketing is so much easier. So you’ve got a team of 11 staff now, how are you finding that? Because we work together, Darren focuses on the systems and the accounts while I concentrate more on the people side of the business, the clients and the staff.  Having a great team around you is so important. We have a great open culture where we talk about things honestly and constructively, and I really want to make sure that I  support staff with Personal Development  so we can all keep learning and growing. As a studio owner, it’s often hard to find the time for PD, but Studio Pilates HQ delivers daily Professional Development resources to help the team, called "Pre-Game" videos which I’ve found really useful. The Front Desk training and support systems are really comprehensive too. How was the launch and your first few months? When we started we had a lot to learn and didn’t really know what we were doing, but it didn’t matter because we had so much help and support from HQ. I have to say everything has gone pretty smoothly, and the studio is very busy, operating pretty close to capacity most of the time. Right at the beginning we had some issues with our contractors at the fit out, but staff from HQ came over to help us and worked really hard to make sure that we opened without problems. I really appreciate the support we get, and not feeling isolated - we can call for help or advice any time.  So we’ve really found it a positive experience all round. In fact, it has given us the confidence to open our next location, Claremont, in February! What would you rate as your biggest win? When a client talks to you after a class and says Pilates has changed their life… it’s the best! That’s great to hear. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Julia, and all the best for Studio number 2!
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