Guest: Jane & Brigitte
Podcast Release Date: 5/14/2021
Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.
Steve Washuta: Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast. I’m your host Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and ultra Fitness Business 101. On today’s podcast, I speak with the custom fit owners Jane and Brigitte’s custom-fit is located in Savannah, Georgia. I worked alongside both Jane and Bridgette for a long time in Savannah, Georgia, they opened up their own business.
And today that’s what we’re going to be talking about opening up a Fitness Studio, what are the first thoughts and the inception of a Fitness Studio? How specifically does the day get into their paperwork in their rent, any sort of tips for insurance, and opening up? If they had a chance to do it over? What would they do differently timeline of goals, perks, and negatives, equipment purchases, all the things that surround going into a fitness business, this is a long conversation. And they give a really good insight into things that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. And their anecdotal experience I believe can help others who are thinking about opening up a fitness business down the road, all the little nuances that you might not think about.
With no further ado, here’s Jane and Bridgette, thanks for being with Trulyfit. I have to have full disclosure here. A lot of the guests I don’t know, or I’ve only met for the first time. But obviously, we have a past I know Jane and Brigitte are very well trained together in a nice southern coastal city that they’re currently in Savannah, Georgia. And I appreciate you guys coming out. Why don’t you give the listeners a brief bio of your fitness background how you got into fitness back how you got into fitness in general? And what exactly it is you do now?
Jane : Yeah, why don’t you go first?
Brigitte : Oh, mine actually start started when I was 15. I used to go to the gym a lot with my father. And it was the time when group fitness was the big thing. So I would always watch the young lady teach group fitness. And I was like wanting to do that. But I was too young because they didn’t employ you unless you were 16.
But one day she called in sick. And so then today, we have an opportunity to 5:30pm instructor has said I mean that’s like the spot, I was so nervous that I filled in. And that’s where it all started. So this was pretty much everything I did throughout Seoul, I even would block out my classes just to go teach a class. I even talk when I was in college, to the students at the top it was called a ribbit dance for their credits.
And then I got into personal training probably about 10 years after that. So again, that was an opportunity after a class when somebody approached me and said, Hey, can we pay you to train us? And I thought, why do you need to pay me or why? First of all, would you not do this without just wanting to do it on your own. So really at that point that was probably in the early 80s or early 90s, when the certifications weren’t even a thing. So as that started getting to be a little bit more, I thought, Well, I better go get certified because this is what I’m gonna start putting more attention to. And then as I said, I went to college and got a Bachelor of Science in health science.
So I was basically eating, drinking, sleeping, all the fitness stuff, loved it. And then of course, as I got married and had kids, I was looking at opportunities to work in a way that was conducive to my family. So I would basically take the kids throw them in the nursery teach my class run home in the afternoon, and there was a period of probably good tenses.
By the end of the week, it was probably 14 to 20 classes. Always go in accounting and the same with trading. So I would say probably closer to 90 1996 is when I worked at a place that I use fitness, and that’s the place where I’m at you see it viewed fitness more as a professional instead of just come and teach your class goes the train. You know, you can’t show up not a big deal but more of as a profession.
And that’s fast that there are about 21 years of teaching and training led me to think Well, maybe I want to manage a little bit. So I did group fitness coordinating, managed a little bit in the fitness world. But that too was just not really what I enjoyed. I liked being in with the people. And I’m trying to think if I forgot anything, of course along the way. certifications became really important. So I used to just get the basic group basic personal training.
And then as you all know, it became you got to get a spin certification, you got to get aquatics you have to get. So I really felt like I was well equipped to teach anything and everything. So from a coordinator standpoint, if the instructor didn’t show up, I can jump right in and teach it. Now, they don’t even want you to come in and teach it unless you’re certified. So I think that’s pretty much my nutshell.
Steve Washuta: And then that led you to custom fit, which we’re going to talk about in a little bit. But first, Jane, you can also do the same to let everyone know exactly how you started in fitness.
Brigitte : Jane And I the place that you need to save work at. And again, there was a little bit of idea happening in that Jay actually approached me to say, what do you think about opening a business? So I’ll let Jane take over?
Jane : Well, I started in a very similar way as Bridgette. I was attending classes somewhere in the 80s, immediately after having a smoke in the parking lot, by the way. So yes, I gave up smoking rather rapidly after that. And the instructor one day, you know, couldn’t make it and say, Hey, you know, you’ve been coming here long enough, you know, the routine.
Back at a time when all of our group fitness was kind of cookie-cutter, you know, we followed a set routine here with strength day here is cardio day. I don’t think we call it cardio back then. So by the late 80s, I was teaching most of the classes in this studio. And not very long after that similar situation, somebody asked me if I would train them privately.
And I got certified rapidly at the time, I had a full-time career in advertising and public relations and marketing communications. So I had the benefit of having a courier business for a solid seven or eight years prior to starting to get into fitness. And I had a bug in me to start a business of some kind somewhere along that path. And it wasn’t long. After I started training people privately, then I decided personal training was the business that I wanted to be in.
So I started my own company. And, you know, a company of one because I’m more than enough for anybody to handle really, and not very easy to manage. So I had my own firm for 10 years. And I would go to people’s houses, I would go to businesses and teach classes and teach small group training. I was traveling all over the place, and eventually got tired of all that running around and took a full-time job as a fitness center manager at a community center. So it was a pretty large nonprofit organization that was managing large budgets and managing a group fitness program that had 30 classes a week, maybe more on the schedule, and doing my own personal training.
On top of that, I was required to do a certain amount of teaching a certain amount of training in addition to all of the management administrative work. And then I got hired by a friend of mine to start up a small gym, a small 5000 square foot gym. And it was a full-service type of facility and, and which is still going strong and has an additional location. This is back in New York where I’m originally from. So I didn’t leave that facility until I came to Savannah and took a job at a physical therapy clinic. And so I worked at a physical therapy clinic part-time, which was an invaluable experience.
Being exposed to that rehabilitation approach. Having an opportunity to learn from that next level at a more advanced clinical level of professionals was an extraordinary opportunity. And I had an, I had a chance to explore some of that crossover between training and therapy when I was still in New York, and when I got here dove much deeper into that. So still respecting the boundaries of our training scope of practice, but having an understanding of different modes of therapy was priceless. So I’ve been able to integrate that into practically everything I’ve done since then I started working part-time of things.
Sam, when I moved to Savannah, so this is about 12 years ago. And that place that we set it out. It’s a resort community, yes, there was a very professional approach, we had an opportunity to run our own business within that business. So it at times felt like it was every man for himself or every woman for herself in that setting, but it was a very unique opportunity there. Because we didn’t have to do all that much of our own marketing.
We didn’t have to teach people what personal training was, we didn’t have to teach people the value of staying active. We had a community there have 1000s of residents who got it, who understood the value of movement, and athleticism, and an active healthy lifestyle. So we didn’t have to sell that part. We had that constant flow of people who are really engaged and interested in what we had to offer. And that is tremendously freeing. If you’ve been at the other end of particularly coming from the end of the start of personal training as an industry. You know, in the late 80s personal training was absolutely in its infancy.
Nobody heard of it. Nobody understood even Bridgette and I was like, why would you want me to train you have any motivation? No, people don’t. And so yeah, yay, those nice people asked us to give them something we did. But, you know, having come from that end of the spectrum, clear over to the other side, not having to sell that aspect of fitness and well-being. You know that that was an amazing experience also, so so we get to benefit from that a little bit.
Now we’ve, you know, turn the corner, we’ve started our own facility, we don’t have to explain to people what the value of exercise and movement is, we have to set ourselves apart from all of the other choices people have for fitness and well being.
There are lots of other studios, and this is a relatively small city, by any standard. There’s a lot of fitness choices in this city. And so there are lots of options online. There’s, you know, every reason in the world to go and cherry-picking and do all kinds of other things that all kinds of other places. We have to set ourselves apart, not just by, you know, being here, but by offering something really special. So, and I think the reason that Bridgette and I are still here doing this, together with our team, in this space, is that we’re doing a halfway decent job that of doing something really special. So and we’re really grateful to the people that are staying with us and taking advantage of that.
Steve Washuta: Yeah. Well, to add to piggyback off a point you said before, having not had to do a lot of the marketing, at least in that last job. That means you had 1000s of hours, you got to just work with clients. And I feel like there’s a lot of young trainers Now, unfortunately, they’re just trying to become expert marketers and tell people how great they are and what they can provide for them. But they don’t, they don’t have the hours.
They don’t have the experience working with different demographics. They don’t have the different certifications and there they are just on the market again. So I know we’re sort of in the same bubble where we have the 1000s of hours of experience. But now we’re trying to build up the sort of the online marketing aspect of the business.
But I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I rather have the experience and have the word of mouth and have people say good things, and then have to try to prove it elsewhere than to be an expert marketer and be great with pictures, but not actually have the skills to back it up. So I think, you know, it, what all our experiences brought us to where we are. That’s, that’s all we can do. And I’m glad, I’m glad to have worked with you guys and shadowed you guys and, and learned underneath you. But let’s get into custom-fit now. Tell the listeners how the inception of the studio came about the thought behind it and any other interesting things?
Brigitte: Well, Jane was working at custom fit as, as most trainers and instructors have multiple places. And Jay also worked with me at the job that I was at. And so I was not currently employed by the previous owner who had a custom to Jamie, you can correct me with some of the timing. But I believe the previous owner had it for 10 years. Yes. And it’s started kind of in her garage kind of thing. So the studio we’re in today.
The previous owner had it in this building for five years, maybe you think it was seven, seven, okay. And so I met the owner, not even thinking we were going to buy it, we were all in our planning stages with a group of seven people. And so we were really thinking about purchasing open space and just outfitted. But it just kind of happened. It was introduced me to the owner because my job was not going very well. And she says Hey, why don’t you come? You know, just meet the owner here at a custom fit. So I with intention of just spreading myself again, just going alright, well, we’ll try it.
Then the subject came up that she was just thinking of selling the business. And we just kind of looked at each other, like maybe this is something we need to entertain. And once we were comparing the apples and apples buying an already outfitted business, yes is probably in my eyes, a more expensive investment. When you’re looking at an open space and trying to outfit all of the equipment that we have the software we had. Pretty much most of the equipment, there wasn’t really anything that we came into. We just wanted to organize it our way. And so sitting down with the previous business owner and striking a good deal. It really worked out great. Jane, I don’t know if you want to add to that part of it. Well,
Jane: what we had originally intended and going into our very own space with like Bridgette said, you know, a total of seven people at one point will load down winnowed down, what’s the phrase you use there any way it ended up being just Bridgette and I, you know, still sitting around the table with all our plans and all our budgets and all our checklists. And we had a conversation with the owner here at custom fit to see if she was interested in partnering with us. So my conversation with her was let’s blend what we’re all doing.
Because we all want to do it more or less the same way. We’re kind of following the same path. We have the same sensibilities, we have the same kind of experiences. And we want to create a second location for a custom fit, will manage that location will help you manage this location. What he meant was she wanted to sell and we went cool. That’s cool. Let’s work on that then. It didn’t take long to make that decision.
That even though the location was was far enough away from what we originally envisioned in terms of having access to the clientele that we were used to working with, at our previous place of employment We knew that this would be far enough away that we would be walking away from the word of mouth that we had built up there for the previous 10 years. But oh, well, we were walking into a brand that was well respected in the community had a great location in town. And it was just the right size, it was just the right feel it was just everything said yes. to us.
There’s something that happens when you’re making a decision when you’re making a big life decision, whether it’s for your career or a personal relationship, or, or whatever. I think there’s something that happens viscerally. When you say to yourself, I think this is the one, or I think she’s the one. You know it, you just know it, that it’s the right way to go the energy that you need to get where you want to go in that direction, whatever it is, you feel it. I think that’s what we felt, is versus starting up our own facility.
And yeah, it might have been apples and apples dollars-wise. But again, there are so many incredibly valuable intangibles that go with having that quality brand. And that clientele that was already here. Many of whom have stayed, thankfully. And, you know, I don’t I don’t have any regrets about it at all.
Brigitte: I was going to interject that when we took over, there were two or three employees already here. So we were so conscious of not coming in and like changing everything because as Jane said, we really parallel a lot of our business as well as the training. And so we really wanted them to feel welcome. Because nothing is worse than when you get two new owners, not just one we’re coming in. And we’re gonna change everything.
So we made our changes gradual and feeling confident enough that even the existing members, not just the employees would embrace us. And they did. You might have a few that just kind of go the wrong way. But it was just timing and trying not to make it personal and just moving forward. And Jay and I came in and painted within a year, a new floor and just really started in Fraserburgh. We feel like we represent, again, not too much different than what was already here. But definitely putting our own flavor. So we’ve been Nikkei 2012 was the year we’ve we’ve been in five years coming up September, September, it’ll be five years, I mean different dates over here. I’m like what, but almost five years, together with this, which is mind-boggling for me.
Steve Washuta: So let’s talk about the paperwork that goes behind starting a small training studio, and a fitness business, the rents, the insurance, all of that nonsense that you, unfortunately, have to deal with. When you go into starting up a small business can you give the listeners anyone who wants to open up a small business, some tips, and some foresight into all the different things you have to manage?
Brigitte : But I will tell you, my job was to make the mission statement, which I thought was kind of corny at first, but it does help reel us back in and keep especially when you have two people going in a business or three people or whatever. It’s more than one person. It’s important that you have those conversations. So you’re all on the same page. You don’t just assume even if you work together, that you are in it for the right reasons, the same reasons, and understand the differences but they’re in court
Jane : to Bridget’s point before I forget which I will get an attorney. Just go ahead and spend the money on the attorney and have that extra set of eyes have that extra set of ears have the experience of someone who has put together and torn apart organizations of all different shapes and sizes, for all different reasons and pick the brains of that person so that you can see down the road, all of the different issues that you might encounter in the organization of your business as a limited liability corporation, or as an S corporation, or as incorporation, etc, and so forth.
There are lots of lots and lots of things that you’ll never see coming, that somebody with that expertise will basically give you. It’s absolutely invaluable. So like, like I said, it gets those conversations started those awkward conversations started about, you know, how you really feel what your values are. Now, on to the planning part.
Brigitte : Now, when we think about the amount of money that I had to come up with, I went ahead and maybe this was what you were saying, is that, okay, so if you’re going to get this amount, we went ahead and just said, Let’s Project 5000. Because you just want to have that buffer of the what-ifs? What if you open your doors and there are people running in the door? Most of them, you know what? It whether you’re leasing or buying, you know, the air conditioner goes out? So yeah, that’s a whole nother the leasing agreement. And like she said, the attorney help keep us on track, and what to worry about what not to worry about.
Jane : checklists, checklists, checklists, capital C checklists, you’re going to have to deal with rent, unless you’re working out of your home. If you are working in other people’s facilities, you are going to make sure that you have the liability coverage that you need, and the permission that you need. There’s a park right across the street from us. Forsyth Park, can you legally do workouts in Forsyth Park without a permit from the city? Can you legally do work out in the parking lot across the street without a permit from the owner of that property, blah, blah, blah, you need to take all of those things into consideration? If there are any costs associated with those permissions, where you can skate and take your chances.
We don’t like to skate and take our chances. That’s not who we are. So some people do that. Have at it, be my guest, take those risks. We’re not we’re risk-averse in certain areas, and making sure that we have the right coverage. All the things that we want to do are really important to us. Knock wood, there’s plenty of wood around here. Actually, there’s some we’ve never had an injury or a claim or a lawsuit or any of that. And hopefully, that’s the way it stays.
But we’re absolutely prepared. If that is the case, so you get your rent, you have your insurance on your contents. If you own your building, you have your property insurance, you have your liability insurance that should cover everything from sexual assault claims to general liability, and trip and fall issues, and so forth. You have your expenses for regular supplies.
So the kinds of things that you run out of routinely, like printer, toner, you have the actual tools of your trade, you have computers, you have software, you have marketing expenses, you will have far more marketing expenses than you ever anticipate. You will need to replace most of your equipment within two to five years, especially if it’s getting used regularly and God knows you want it to get used regularly.
That’s what it’s there for. You want lots of people to come in and use it, you want to wear that stuff out. You want to have a regular inspection procedure. Put that in your planning, inspect your equipment, way more frequently than you do. And make sure that it’s safe to continue to use. Learn how to maintain your own equipment as much as humanly possible. It will last you so much longer that way. You might think about diversifying the type of equipment you have, depending on other practitioners that might be working with you.
There’s a whole nother end of planning. If you’re working with the practitioners, how are you going to share the space? What boundaries are going are you going to use? Are you going to need soundproofing in your space that was one of the things that we captured when we moved into our studio, this is a great big, wonderful space, we have great big ceilings, we have so many hard surfaces, it’s almost impossible to hear each other when there are more than two people in this room. If you put music on top of that, if you’re working with a population that wears hearing aids, or forgets their hearing aids, that becomes a real issue.
So we actually had someone come in and assess the sound quality in our space, somebody who was an audio expert, and give us some guidelines as to how to dampen the rebounding basically all of the echoings that we had going on in the space. There’s an expense we didn’t anticipate. But hey, so you have to build those kinds of things into your understanding of how your space is going to be used. Are you doing group and personal training? Is there a way to diversify with other practitioners such as massage therapists, we had a Thai yoga massage practitioner in here with us at one time figuring out how to manage this base, as a multi-use when something quiet like that is supposed to be going on?
And we’re providing instructions at the other end of the room, taking those boundaries into account, and how to create those opportunities. something to consider about the flooring was something that Bridget mentioned, we have an obligation to take care of ourselves and not breathing. So so we have to take into consideration in our planning how we’re going to take care of ourselves and our staff, the choices that we make. So the flooring was a very important choice for us, when you’re on your feet all day, you have to provide for those kinds of safety. That’s a safety issue, to us having the right kind of flooring, not just for the tasks that we intend in this space. But for us to be standing on all day.
That’s really important. Now, those checklists, just go on and on and they get longer and longer. I get to talk about them all day long, and revise them and revise them and revise them and revise them. One cool thing about all of the online shopping and price comparison and stuff that you can do is you can build wish lists with different equipment providers.
And that can help you with your budgeting it’s really easy to comparison shop. In that way. You can see behind me that we have Leibert equalizers, we have medicine balls, we have stability balls, we have dumbbells we have BOCES, we have dozens of each of these tools, buying things in bulk is while it’s quite a cost-saving because you spend less per piece, where are you going to store all the extras if you don’t need them right away? You know, taking into consideration and you’re planning those kinds of things. That’s what we do.
Brigitte: I was going to interject and maybe you touched a little bit on this. So we weren’t really thinking of retail but because we a were studio and a lot of times where we’re not like saying you have to come in the workout. But especially when we went through the pandemic. It was like okay, now we’re in your home, on zoom or FaceTime.
And people needed equipment. So that was another reason why we had good relations with the companies that we ordered from. And I think Jane one time you were telling me the small little tax that we have to pay on our retail, which is kind of funny because I think it was something small, but it’s something that you can’t forget. But we sell our custom bit shirts, but as far as equipment, we’re not like you have to buy it but because more and more people are working at it, how we were just a nice little resource. And most of the stores were out of it. So and they look at your trainer like you’re supposed to know everything. So we were part of that as well. And we still are
Jane : Yeah, you have to set up your business account with the city that you’re in. You set up your business with the state that you’re in you and there are fees, of course, associated with all of those things. You may or may not have city and county and state taxes to pay for existing. That all goes into your planning. You may have a sales tax, right because if you’re reselling fabulous Things like this, this goes over really well, in places where it’s not 89 degrees in the middle of March that are long sleeve shirts with their, their little logo on there and a nice Call now for your hoodie. sales tax, you got to collect sales tax, and then you have to file on a regular basis. Well, our filing a few years ago was so small.
Our monthly filing was $2. And sales tax, you know, for the time it takes for the person in Atlanta to keep track of our little filing, like, heck with it just file annually. Well, now that we’re reselling all of this equipment, and we were selling shirts for a while during the pandemic, because we were part of a city-wide Savannah strong t-shirt sales effort to help generate any kind of income at all for so many businesses, so many small businesses that had to close down.
So we collected sale taps for all those things in the yard signs. And yes, the small equipment that we’re helping people set up at home, and an actual actually one of our friends who own a business across the street, built out a garage as a fitness space. And we helped him equip that. So our annual sales tax filing this year took a lot longer to put together and ended up being in the hundreds of dollars. Yay. What a nice problem to have.
Steve Washuta: Well, well, from the thinking about the acoustics and the lighting and the flooring, and do I buy both Susan bulk? And do I handle these taxes? And do I get a lawyer? That is obviously a lot of stuff and it can seem daunting? Let’s I’m gonna throw this to you. Bridgette, let’s talk about some of the perks. Right? So you go through all of this process, right? You get the legal stuff nailed down, you make your checklist, you go through all of these things. And let’s talk about the positive the perks side of owning your own business, and all those things that come after you, you go down to your checklist?
Brigitte: Well, you know, most of the trainers and instructors typically do their work before class or trainer training, and then they have their work after class. And, you know, I think we all tend to be a little bit of the coldest people. Because we’re trying to always manage our schedule. But I think when you own your own studio, it sounds like oh my gosh, that’s a lot more work. I really never felt that way.
Because I always did the extra stuff, which I feel like most people should do, from, you know, oh, there’s something on the board over here, let’s be a part of this class, or let’s think of this idea. in it. Our space has been so conducive to just my brain going, ah, you know, if we’ve made it to where when I come here, I really don’t feel like I’m putting so much more effort in I don’t mean like I’m just you know, taking a break. But it’s very conducive to my creative side, I guess she’ll say one thing that I laugh about because Jane’s more of the accounting woman.
So when I got my little credit card with custom-fit on it, I usually will text her and say, Hey, I’m over here, I’m going to get this the fat. That’s a huge perk. I’m like, I don’t have to put it on my own personal account, I can just say, there’s enough money in the account course go get it because I’m not one of those to just go buy stuff. But when I do, I’ve got the card. And that I love that. Like, I don’t have to ask my dad for money. But what else, let’s say, Oh, the biggest thing when I came from a more corporate kind of place if I want to make my own homemade sign with my markers, and my little corny drawings, I can do it. I don’t have to go get it approved.
We have one of those sandwich boards, the chop, and I’m sure Jane looks at me sometimes going okay already. You’ve done what you need to do, but I love to like make my little colors and put them out on the sidewalk with the next class up and we have two chalkboards in the room here. So I just feel like I have a little fun and that’s definitely a perk where I feel like some of the other places if you didn’t walk right off, right? God forbid, take a cell phone call, you know you might be just you know what we know what professionalism is, so don’t if I need to make a call. I’ll be Professional about it, but I feel like owning your own place. Okay, I can be a normal human being, and still run my business. So
Steve Washuta: totally. And I think having showing your personality is a part of recruiting your clients and the kind of clientele you want to come to your studio. Right. That’s, that’s part of any business. And that’s also a part of your marketing, whether you’re doing videos or putting out signs or showing images, you’re, you’re showing the true image of who you are, so that people are not confused when they come in, right? You’re, you’re telling a story about your brand, so to speak.
Jane : We were having a conversation with that, about that the other day about drawing a line in a way with your authenticity, it’s it is, it’s great to be your authentic self, to a point. And, and one of the aspects of our profession that we kind of hang our hat on is that, yeah, we are the cheerleaders, we are the bland ones, we are not here to share everything that’s going on in our lives, we’re here to share what’s going on in your lives, clients, what’s going on in your lives, class members, what, you know, ours is a service we’re serving you, we invite you to share all those things. Yeah, there are clearly aspects of our personality that come out no matter what. And there’s their strengths and our skills that come out that we’re here to share those things.
But if, if we’re having a bad day, you know, we’re supposed to be demonstrating the skills to turn that frown upside down, right. And, and, and keep that where it belongs, and show our best selves, when we’re here in the studio, or when we’re putting something out there. Maybe it’s not the most glamorous, so maybe it’s not, you know, the hardest-hitting hit self. But, you know, we do our best to be our best to demonstrate the best that we can deliver for our clients. So so there’s, there’s a boundary when it comes to authenticity, and that’s an aspect of professionalism, that’s, that’s really important to us.
And we try to transmit that all across the way and the way that we treat each other in the way that we treat our staff and in the way that we treat our clients and our neighbors for that matter, you know, we are an aspect really cool aspect actually, of what we do as business owners on the block is create relationships with the grocery store, in the next corner, the Airbnb down the street, the medical professionals that we refer to and who referred to us, you know, we have responsibility and authority to create really beneficial relationships in our community, that’s part of our mission statement, in a way.
So we’re not just taking care of ourselves, we’re not just taking care of our clients, we’re taking care of our city. So you know, we want to be a resource for other businesses and, and that’s a really cool aspect, of owning your own business.
You work in your business, you know, we have our business set up and our income stream set up so that we get paid for our training sessions. We don’t have this business setup. So that Bridgette and I are taking a salary or taking a straight percentage of all of the income that comes in, that’s not how we do it. We earn a commission just like all the other people who work here, we take a commission from the work that we put in with our clients and the classes that we teach. So that’s an approach that feels fair and genuine and sufficient to us. And that actually keeps us very honest. You know where we’re constantly working just as hard as everybody else to keep the business going to keep people happy.
There’s a level of accountability there for us and that matters and Then there’s working on the business, you know, we do have to spend a significant amount of time, outside of that training time, and that teaching time and that stuff that, you know, feeds our souls, that’s the stuff that feeds your soul, right. That’s why we get into this business, who gets into the business to do the tax filings.
Who gets into the business to come up with the marketing content all the time, who gets into the business to handle the maintenance and the cleaning and the occasional, thankfully, the occasional awkward conversations with the staff, if things aren’t going just played exactly the way they ought to, to make everybody happy? You know, those, those are challenges that are definitely part of the picture. And if you’re not working on those things, if you’re not staying on top of as much quality in those areas, as you are in your training sessions, then you’re, you’re missing opportunities. And, and things can, as we certainly learned in 2020,
Brigitte: I was gonna add to that with our employees, we really, I really don’t j as well, we don’t think we’re bosses but of course, we have to make the decisions, but we like to think of us as leaders, and to empower them to, to basically treat this space like it’s theirs. And so each employee has their own key has their own code for the alarm, they, they come and they go, we have a wonderful system that says I have a client that just doesn’t want to be around a lot of people, I can look at the schedule and say, Hey, here’s a time where it’s not really busy.
But as you can see all the squares, we have a really good system, which that was not the planning part when we first got into the business. Sometimes we come across decisions that it’s so wonderful that we have me and James that bounce our head around, but we feel confident we can open that up to our employees, and we truly value their opinions because there is space to so we really don’t look at it as we have people working under us. We look at it as their chance to grow their business and be there their true leader and play into their positives. What did you say there, just be creative and find what your true personality is, and we’re going to help them grow to their best ability?
Jane: therefore for some of those staff to become owners themselves, if not co-owners with us, because that opportunity exists to also open their own businesses outside of these walls, we know that’s a possibility. And we have those open conversations with our staff about those kinds of things. And you’re talking about being in competition with one another is an again, pretty awkward conversation to, to have with your staff.
But it’s so valuable to understand where people are coming from to know that we walked in their shoes, you know, they’re walking a path that we’ve been down. And we can give them our insight about that. And you know, and maybe we can be role models for them for you know when they open their own. If it’s brick and mortar or whatever it is that they do, you know, we feel like that’s an important part of a legacy, if you will, of what custom fit can do.
Brigitte: Something we do a lot of here that I wasn’t exposed to a lot of is we share clients. It’s not just what I need to take some time off, which is great in that respect. But I think the client learns two different styles, two different personalities. And I think we all learn from each other as well. Because I had never come to such small things and I use it for just like, oh, how am I going to keep growing? And this has been amazing for my growth.
Steve Washuta: Yeah, I want to piggyback off a few things that you both said. One is, there’s no better way to learn how to run a business, a small fitness facility like yours than to be a part of one to go through the day today and see what’s going on just than just the kind of the small decisions and the nuances.
Do I use mind-body or schedule a city or some other program? Do I decide to open up my hours all day long? Or do I have you know, staggering hours? Do I give keys to my employees or do I only let them in myself right? Just even these all these little subtle things like Bridgette was saying like, do I ensure that I control the schedule so that if I have clients who are a bit shyer and reserved that they’re not being thrown in with, you know, screaming guys grunting in the other corner.
So there are all of these things that you’ll only know if you work for these businesses. So that’s fantastic. And then what Jane said before about being authentic to a certain point if you were going in for surgery, would you want your orthopedic surgeon to tell you, you know what, I got into a fight with my wife last night, and I had a few drinks, and I’m kind of tired, I really don’t want to do this back surgery. But what the hell I’m here? No, right. So there comes a point where your professionalism has to override that.
And we’ve been, we’ve worked together not going to say names that we’ve worked together, I’ve seen people run in crying, we’ve seen people run into training sessions 20 minutes late. And, and that’s just, it’s unfortunate in the business. But, you know, even though you’re close with your clients, you have some sort of a friendship, there is a balance of 6040, with them being your friend than you being their friend, however odd that is to say, meaning, like, they can tell you a bit more than you should be able to tell them because you have to draw that line.
Or else it’s just not going to end well. There’s gonna there’s going to be issued and your that lack of professionalism is going to be crossed. But I want to move on to the next thing here and talk about all of the things or one of the things let’s say one of the things you would have done differently, had you had the opportunity to know what was ahead. So it could be something as small as I would have made sure to contact the lawyer sooner, I would have made sure to not get this type of equipment, I would have made sure to lease instead of rent, what is the advice you can give to people to say, if I could have done it a little bit differently given you know, retroactive Lee, I can make those decisions I would have.
Jane: I wish that I had some perspective. Well, I do have a little bit of perspective on the on the purchase versus leasing equipment, because we’re not, we’re not an equipment-intensive type of facility. We don’t have machines, we don’t know the biggest machine-based product that we have here is a Pilates Reformer. And which is very easy to maintain. So yes, we own it. So so we don’t have that type of equipment.
Every other facility that I have worked in and managed, we did own it. And some of them were very, very good about maintenance. And, and maintenance is everything. If you’re going to own something you really have to stay invested, in how to keep it working yourself. That’s really the only way to make that type of investment work for you. Things that I would do differently, I’d have to say, the thing that really dropped hard into our labs in March of 2020, is the thing that I would have done differently, I would have been much more receptive, much sooner to virtual training techniques, and incorporating that into our menu of services sooner.
Although honestly, even getting out of the obstacle of my own mindset, I think we came to it at a time when the technology was optimal for us to get into without having to invest a massive amount of time that we honestly didn’t have to kind of get up to speed on how to make zoom, and what’s the app and then all of these kinds of live streaming options really work for us. Short of getting on board with other types of streaming options and programs and apps,
Brigitte: I would have to say, the transition. And this happens in many other ways besides just going to a business of your own. We’ve all had life things come up. For instance, I was trying to find that perfect balance between leaving my previous job and then coming here we call it the secret squirrel meeting for a while we didn’t want anybody to know because so God forbid if someone’s gonna do when they cut you off, but from a client standpoint, because it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been with a client on your consumer, how they get the news.
What I found it was a big growing experience for me and It says exactly what you said, Steve is that no matter how personal you get with someone, when it comes time to make a decision to, to leave, or to change, whatever that is, you really find the real people that support you. And then you can’t take it personally when they don’t support you, it didn’t matter what type of clientele you had. And I wished I had honestly made the break sooner because I felt like I was dragging it out to save their feelings, or to make it this smoother transition.
There’s no such thing as a smooth transition. I don’t mean like an abrupt change abasi later, but I think that each person had a conversation with me, and I just assumed it might have gone better each way. And sometimes it did. And I took that like, Oh, no, but I’ve learned a lot now. I mean, everybody could look back at how they have conversations and with their clients or with your bosses or you’re in your employees, your co-workers. But it definitely taught me a lot of things on how to say things differently.
Steve Washuta: That’s fantastic information from both of you. Now let’s plug some custom-fit stuff. Where can people find you guys? Whether it’s through social media? Where are they? Where can they reach out directly if they have questions, whether it’s a personal trainer who asked questions about opening up a studio, or a potential customer, just wherever they can reach you shout it out here?
Jane: CustomFitcenter.com and you’ll find us on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the Tiktok. I can’t even keep track of all of these accounts. Oh my god, Info@customfitcenter. Georgia.
Steve Washuta: Well, I’m not I’m not on Tiktok yet. But I would imagine you’re both doing some pretty interesting dance videos. Talk. So I’m going to download it now that I know custom filters are still new
Jane : on that. I don’t even know what we’re doing on that. So one of the wonderful things that came with a custom fit was a fabulous Social Media Manager. So yeah, so that’s after you pay the attorney and go through all that stuff. Hey, someone, do this social. Do it. That’s a full-time job. It really is coming up with content every single day, in some cases multiple times a day, really understanding how to make that work for you how to keep that engine going. And there’s always so many different twists and turns and, and rapid evolutions and how best to use the media. I wish I had even with a marketing background. My marketing background is useless now it’s completely outdated. I’m a dinosaur. You know,
Steve Washuta: I couldn’t I couldn’t agree more. You’re right. I mean, there’s too much going on in the social media landscape.
To be an expert in social media and marketing. You’re not going to be a good trainer, unfortunately, you know, because you’re just there’s not there’s only so many hours in the day. So you’re not dedicated your time to one craft if you’re dedicating your time to the other craft. So get a lot of money by being good at training, and get expensive clients and then pay somebody to do your social media. I think that’s, that is the answer.
But I can’t thank you guys enough for joining. Hopefully, in the near future. We’ll talk about some other topics that you guys can share some insights on and everyone visit the custom fit center on all the different platforms and their website. Thanks for joining and
Jane: stay on top of what’s happening with Trulyfit.
Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.
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