6 Steps to Growing Your Studio Business During Covid-19

Here we are smack dab in the middle of our “new normal” of managing a business during a global pandemic. Our brick and mortar studio has officially been closed since March 18 which means this week it will be 1 month since we’ve had clients in our studio.

If you had told us even just 2-months ago that we would close our doors for 30 days and still be standing we would have probably laughed at you.

This is surely not to brag because we have had our fair share of setbacks and challenges and each day feels like we’re running a sprint marathon trying to keep all the balls in the air.  We are not out of the woods yet, and yes, we’ve made some wrong decisions along the way. It’s definitely not all rainbows and unicorns. But we are “open for business” and we’re even starting to see some growth and new opportunities as we near the 30-day mark.

Here are the 6-Steps we’ve taken to manage our business during this time.

1.  Dug Deep on Our Numbers:

When it became clear that we were going to have to shut down, we immediately went to the drawing board to make sense of our numbers. Inside our coaching program we are always preaching about the importance of fully understanding your numbers. In “normal” times we have a good gauge of our profit margin, but suffice it to say there is always room for improvement.

We took a look at our cash flow, did some projections, looked at our budget and made sure we had a plan for the direction we were headed. We truly believe knowledge is power so simply just knowing where we stood helped us feel way more in control and able to make swift decisions.

2. Cut Expenses:

Next, we went on a big cost-cutting mission and evaluated every last dime we spend in our business. We cut all non-essential spending – things like subscriptions we were no longer using, supplies we typically use in studio, and miscellaneous items. Then we went to work on lowering our monthly obligations – turning down the thermostats to conserve energy, calling our utility companies like cable and phone to see if we there were any better deals. Yes, it took some time, but overall we saved about $500/month in superfluous expenses.  Again, knowledge is power, and knowing we were as lean as we could be gave us the confidence to keep moving forward.

One caution – make sure you do not cut services that you actually need to generate revenue in your business. Now is not the time to make it extra hard on yourself by having to do something the long way. If you have a recurring expense that actually helps you serve your clients and run your business then it is a good expense to keep.

3. Pivoted to a Virtual Model – Zoom and On Demand

Ok, this was happening almost immediately and with amazing swift action from our team. For years, we’ve been building and strategizing about how to expand our services with a virtual training model, but the timing was “never quite right.” Turns out that wasn’t the case at all because when our backs were against the wall our team practically flipped the switch overnight and started offering virtual services.

There are many ways to shift a virtual model, but what is currently working for us is:

  • Personal Training via Zoom – we encouraged all existing clients to continue their training via the online platform Zoom. Yes, we’ve had some hiccups along the way, but overall both trainers and clients are enjoying the workouts and the time together.
  • On-Demand Workouts – Ok, this is a HUGE can of worms and one that really gets the two of us going because for years we have been feeling like we needed to shift how we serve clients in a group format. We all know the challenges of the group fitness model right now – how larger companies have forced us to lower our rates by commoditizing the class and offering us pennies on the dollar for the service we provide. Said company(ies) shall remain nameless, but like you we have a love/hate relationship with how it has changed our group fitness model. 

As the saying goes… necessity is the mother of invention, and we’re not quite sure why it took a global pandemic to finally shift our way of serving our group market… but it did.

What is working best for us right now is to offer locked content in a private Facebook Group and an unlisted YouTube channel. Each day a new workout drops for clients who are participating in this portal.

We’re not sure what the future holds, but we have certainly learned some things about on-demand training and we WILL be working it in when we return to “normal.”

4.  Applied for Funding

As of this moment, at the time of this blog we have received exactly $0 in our bank account from the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance or the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act. Needless to say we had several adrenaline-pumping days as we first tried to understand what we were eligible for and then how to apply for it. Along the way we had a few plot twists – our bank ran out money before they even opened the doors for applications and we went on a goose chase to find a bank that was willing to do business with us. Currently we are “in process” which seems to be the norm for most business owners.

Side note – we find it particularly interesting that millions of small business owners all over the world can pivot on a dime, but the “relief” efforts are “taking time.” We digress, and we know everyone is doing the best they can so we will continue to wait it out.

Take home lesson – don’t wait on these two opportunities. If you are unsure if you/your business is eligible, please email us at [email protected].  We have a FREE training we can send your way. 

5. Planned for Growth 

If the first few weeks were about just hanging on for dear life and making the necessary shifts to maintain business operations, then week 3 is where we started to realize that there is definitely some potential for growth during this time of crisis. 

Certainly, these are challenging times and many, many people are being impacted in so many negative ways. We’ll admit that it does feel a little tone deaf to try to “sell” during this time so we tread lightly into this area.

For us, it took going back to the drawing board and gaining some clarity around who we serve and understanding how we can show up even better for our community.  Every time we come to a crossroads, and we don’t know which path to take we go back to a resource called The Design Your Dream Life (& Business Planner). This step-by-step framework helps us gain control of our time, connect with our why, cast vision, identify strengths and weaknesses and set big goals.  This simple process alone is responsible for helping us weather many challenging times in the past, and it is working for us yet again.

Mindset shift – If you’re struggling with the idea of “selling” to your clients we encourage you to shift your thinking to how can you serve others. The service we offer as wellness professionals is so, so important and everyone can benefit from self-care. Especially in a time a crisis. If you don’t think people are buying right now, we encourage you to ask yourself… have you bought even just one thing that you didn’t absolutely need in the last few weeks? The answer is most likely yes so case in point – people are still buying.  AND…we need small businesses to thrive for the sake of the entire economy.

6. Worked ON Our Business

You’ve heard us say it a million times, but wellness studio owners must carve out time to work ON their businesses instead of IN their businesses. The same holds true for us. You just read about how we’ve been dragging our feet on making some programmatic changes, but we just couldn’t make ourselves do it.

As the weeks wear on we are making it a priority to make some necessary changes so we come back stronger than ever before. Currently our big project is redesigning our website, and it feels so good knowing we’ll be re-opening with a new digital face of our business.  Working through the website design is tedious, but it reminds of days in our studio and the amazing community that we are lucky enough to serve. 

There you have it – our top 6 action items in response to the pandemic. Where are you in your Covid-19 response? How are you weathering this storm? We’d love to hear your successes and challenges in the comments below.

Wherever you are at this point we want you to know that you are right where you are supposed to be. There is no guide book or set of rules for how to navigate this sort of thing. Please be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel the full range of frustration and emotions. And then, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and do what entrepreneurs do best… keep making the next, best decision. 

You got this!!

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