Sure, the number one factor in determining if you are ready to open a second studio location is money and your access to it. How much will you need to spend to purchase equipment, put a deposit on a space, do any possible renovations and outfit the location with appropriate technology? Before you spend a dime, do an estimate of total costs. Then, figure out how much you expect to make per week in the first few months of opening the location. How soon can you recoup the capital expenses? If you don’t have the cash flow to pay for start up costs, create a clear projection of when you expect to be able to pay off any debt and calculate the interest.
But, there is a host of non-financial considerations that could make or break the successful opening of another studio. Here are five questions you should ask yourself when thinking about opening a second location.
1. DO YOU HAVE THE BANDWIDTH TO TAKE ON MORE RESPONSIBILITY?
Before you consider opening a second location, be sure you are in a position to handle a big undertaking. It’s challenging enough to manage one location with clients, employees, retail and payroll. With a second location, you’re doubling all of that. You can’t get another location up and running unless your first is running smoothly. The time and stress of doubling your business will impact both your personal and professional lives.
2. CAN YOU FIND ANOTHER LOCATION THAT MATCHES YOUR CURRENT VIBE?
Judy Simons, owner of Pilates Fusion in San Diego, has been in the fitness industry for nearly 40 years and has started several businesses throughout her career. When she opened her newest location for her Pilates business, it was important to her that the space reflect the vibe she creates in her classes. “My clients don’t want to go to a strip mall, so I found a unique location with a garden out front,” she says.
You should also look for a second location that is in a different neighborhood, but still close enough for you to be able to commute to either studio. With all the managing you will be doing, you can’t waste time traveling. It’s also a good idea to consult with a market research firm to do a demographic study of the area you’d like to expand into. If you find a location that doesn’t have competitive studios nearby, the area may not be a hotbed of fitness fanatics.
3. HOW WILL YOU KEEP IT PERSONAL?
Many clients love boutique fitness because of the personal attention they get when they attend class. They enjoy the class community and receiving custom attention from both the instructors and from you. When you open a second location, you have to think through how you can deliver a boutique, custom experience to a wider base of clients. “Clients don’t want to be just another number,” says Simons. “While you have knowledge from your training, the benefit you can bring is to teach from your heart and to be creative. That’s how you fill your classes.”
4. DO YOU HAVE A RELIABLE PERSON TO RUN YOUR SECOND LOCATION?
As much as you would like to believe otherwise, you can’t be in two places at once. It can be extremely challenging to trust someone to take care of your business while you are not there, so the next best option to cloning yourself is putting someone you already know and trust in charge. If you have a manager or other staff member at your current location that you trust and who has earned a promotion, get that person more involved with the operations at your studio now so you can evaluate how they handle greater responsibility. If you don’t have someone on staff ready to rise through the ranks, it might be time to start looking around for more trustworthy employees.
5. ARE YOU ON TREND?
While you might be passionate about your discipline of fitness and you have a community of loyal clients who love it too, you have to be brutally honest and ask if your workout is hot right now. If your brand of exercise is facing a decline in popularity in your area or across the country, you may want to hold off on opening a second location. While the health benefits of your fitness activity may be undisputed, it will be an uphill battle to get new clients through the door to give you a try.