We’re excited to feature this guest post from RedBird Fitness LLC!

Most boutique studio owners start their businesses because they are exceptionally skilled practitioners, and they see a need in the fitness industry for a higher level of education and precision movement. They are passionate about their work and the impact it makes on the lives of their clients. This is why we founded RedBird Fitness LLC, so we know what that moment of entrepreneurial inspiration feels like.

Unfortunately, while the dedication may be unwavering, the skills that lead to the founding of a business are not the same as those that sustain quality growth. Too often in this industry we become slaves to our businesses – leading at best to burn out and at worst to serious injury. We know. As we were growing – hustling in the trenches day in and day out – our founder Lee Valley sacrificed her hips to the wear and tear of daily teaching, resulting in a double hip replacement in 2013.  As boutique studio owners, we often find that we grow our business at the expense of ourselves, and that as our company gets larger, the magic and quality that was originally there begins to fade.

How do you build a business that works for you, rather than a job where you work? Further, how do you not just scale up, but scale the quality of your business? The answer: build the right systems. In order to achieve personal freedom and organizational growth that continues to scale in quality, you need replicable, measurable systems in place, from your onboarding process for new clients to how you train your instructors. Often, these systems are founded in the key success factors that differentiate your business and reflect your unique voice. Below, we share our four foundational principles that helped set our business up for sustainability.

Know Your Client

The first step to getting the right systems in place is understanding whom you serve. Begin this process by profiling yourself. After all, like attracts like. Many of your clients will reflect your own interests, desired results, and even personality traits. After generating an initial profile, back up your intuitive understanding with data. Use MindBody or ClassPass reports to gather information on the ages, location, income and attendance records of your clients. Then get even more specific. Survey your clients using Survey Monkey or a similar software system and make sure to ask the right questions – such as, what three words would someone you love use to describe you? What brought you to this studio? Why do you stay? Compile this information to create a clear and precise profile of your ideal client.

Understand the Need You Fill

After understanding who your client is, it’s vital to understand the need you fill for them. All systems you create must produce replicable results that serve their unique needs.

Beyond your previous surveys, one exercise that is helpful in identifying your client’s pain point is “A Day In The Life.” Map out what your archetype client’s day looks like from the moment she wakes up in the morning until her head hits the pillow at night. Look for what she needs from you during that day.

Consider your client’s pain points to identify your core competencies. For example, at RedBird, our client is a woman, between 30 to 60, who is an expert in her field, a leader in her community and an inspiration to her family and friends. Her loved ones would describe her as passionate, energetic, genuine and hard working. She is busy, which means she is looking for results from a method that is efficient, led by people whose expertise matches her own. She’s easily frustrated with mediocrity. She is constantly seeking mental and physical stimulation to help her grow, and she wants a community that supports and inspires her.

From this understanding of the RedBird woman, we extrapolated that our three most important core competencies are effective, results-driven programming, welcoming, intelligent, certified and professional teachers, and the cultivation of a supportive community. These three key success factors – our programming, our people (teachers and staff), and our community – had to be present in any system we created to ensure the outcomes we wanted, for the client we serve.

Build Systems to Replicate Core Competencies

The key to building systems that scale quality is to ensure that they promote your defined core competencies. Whether we are developing our online platform, creating new classes for our studio, or designing new sales tools – we are constantly checking that these systems are created around our programs, our people, and our community.

The key to building systems that scale quality is to ensure that they promote your defined core competencies.

If we can confidently say that a system has the three key success factors in place, we know that it will produce a consistent RedBird experience, and that as we grow, the quality of our brand will not be diluted – and we will have the freedom to elevate out of the trenches of the business and care for ourselves.

Get Perspective

Every part of your organization must utilize systems if it is to run without your constant involvement, and to create successful systems you need perspective. Business development does not happen when you’re down in the thick of it; you must look from a high level at what you naturally do well and deconstruct it into steps someone else can follow to produce the same results.

For example, when Lee and I began our business, we were clearly passionate about our method, skilled teaching, and caring practitioners, and it wasn’t hard to build a clientele. To grow, however, we needed to produce a system that allowed clients to have the same experience with one of our teachers that they had with us, and it needed to end in the same result – a buy-in to our community and method.

To do this we created a new client assessment protocol that breaks down not only movements, muscle innervation and postural assessment, but also the talking points we used to lead the client to the appropriate package and close the sale. All of our teachers must take a workshop on this protocol before being eligible to teach. Now, we don’t jump back into the trenches to work with every new client. We have a team that has a clearly outlined set of replicable steps to produce a consistent outcome.

We now have many systems in place – from this client on-boarding support, to sales funnels, to our year-long RedBird teacher training program, but none of them would exist had we not stepped back and gotten strategic. Make a commitment to carve out time each week to work on, not just in, your business.

Elisabeth Kristof and Lee Vallely are co-owners of RedBird Fitness LLC. RedBird is a movement method, established in 2007 and built on 40 years of experience in the fitness industry. Vallely has a background as a professional dancer, club owner, corporate wellness expert and boutique studio owner. Kristof has an MA in journalism and 10 years of experience as a boutique studio owner. RedBird Pilates and Fitness is a studio in downtown Austin, Texas, with a national Pilates teacher training program and an online platform, www.rb360online.com.