In the fast-paced world of boutique fitness, staying ahead of the curve is essential for success. The Boutique Fitness Summit, a gathering of the top boutique-focused professionals in the industry, provided the perfect platform for industry enthusiasts to do just that.
Held in New York this October, the BFS Summit was a remarkable opportunity for fitness enthusiasts to come together, share valuable insights, engage in motivational talks, and network with like-minded individuals.
As this was a very limited attendance event, it was hard for many to gain entrance. However, thanks to our close partnership with Boutique Fitness Solutions, not only were we at the summit, but our founder, Conor O’Loughlin, was a key speaker.
At the BFS Summit, we met with several industry icons, getting a deeper insight into the changing trends of the fitness industry. Dr. Paul Bedford, Emma Berry, and Anne Mahlum, among others, lent their expertise to the event, making it an excellent forum to discuss the industry’s challenges and share the best business practices for achieving success.
The key theme of the event was aptly captured with the phrase, “When the tide rises, all ships rise.” It perfectly encapsulates the collaborative spirit and shared ambition that permeated the summit.
At the BFS Summit, the BFS team shared their recent Spring Report. In this report, they interviewed a wide range of fitness business owners to find out the state of the industry. One thing was very clear – profitability is on the rise.
Last quarter, only 47% of businesses reported being profitable. Now, that’s up to 67%.
The report covered a wide range of topics, as did the event itself, but their was one core topic that came up time and time again.
Hiring is the Biggest Challenge in the Industry Today
Every industry in the US is feeling this, but finding staff at this time is a major struggle.
There are a lot of factors that came into it, but the main solution was clear:
Focus less on the employee, and more on the team.
This doesn’t mean to ignore the individual, but instead to create a collective, enjoyable experience for every single member of your business.
This takes a lot more than just a pat on the back and a warm smile – creating a reciprocal relationship is key. Create a clear, anonymous feedback system that allows you to learn more about your staff’s issues and how you can solve them.
Finally, give your team room to grow. Create experiences where your team can either learn from one another, or from new experiences. This can be something as simple as shadowing you while you do a higher-level task, or something more committed, like paying for a new certification for your staff.
If you give your team a sense of progress and accomplishment, they will stop seeing themselves as “employees” and instead as members of your team.
In an ever-evolving industry like boutique fitness, staying informed and connecting with peers is vital for success. The BFS Summit provided a unique opportunity for attendees to gather knowledge, network, and foster collaboration.
Overall, the event showed that there are plenty of opportunities in the industry at the moment, if you can get the right team behind you.
Want to learn more about how you can boost morale for your fitness team?
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Warning: There’s More to Business Than Just Good Hiring
Hiring challenges weren’t the only talking point of the BFS summit. Additionally, these were the biggest challenges we found clients were facing at the moment:
- Creating a more holistic approach to member well-being
- Understanding and executing business fundamentals
- The key to building a strong brand identity
- Finding the line between a personal brand and your company brand
- The challenge of being versatile in a constantly changing industry
Let’s explore this a little further.
Creating A Holistic Approach to Member Well-Being
One of the major themes of the summit was the shift towards a more holistic approach to member well-being. Rather than focusing solely on the specific fitness services they provide, boutique fitness studios are now considering the broader health and fitness goals of their members. This includes addressing areas such as sleep patterns, mental health, physical health, and nutrition. The goal is to help members achieve their overall well-being and fitness outcomes.
Not sure how you can create a more holistic approach?
Understanding Business Fundamentals and Margins
Another important topic discussed was the need for boutique fitness studios to focus on the fundamentals of running a successful business. A critical aspect of this is achieving the right profit margins. The summit highlighted that the minimum threshold goal for margins should be around 20%, but the industry average is closer to 9%. This discrepancy underscores the challenges associated with the boutique fitness business model, where operating costs can be high.
Want to create a more solid fitness business model?
Building a Strong Brand and Identity
Establishing a strong brand and identity was another key theme at the summit. Boutique fitness studios are recognizing the importance of branding and leveraging various marketing channels. They discussed the mechanics of converting leads and prospects into fully-fledged members. Creating a unique and differentiated offering is a constant challenge in a competitive marketplace, and many operators are working on distinguishing themselves from the competition.
Not sure how to develop your own solid brand identity?
Personal Brand vs. Business Brand
Mark Fisher shared an interesting perspective on the intertwining of personal and business brands. While personal branding can have its advantages, such as creating a strong connection with the audience, it also comes with challenges. Being the face of the business may limit growth opportunities, particularly when opening multiple locations. Operators often need to consider whether personal branding leads to a dilution of the business brand and its associated drawbacks.
Adapting to Evolving Member Expectations
The fitness industry is in a good spot overall, but operators are facing an evolving landscape with changing member expectations. Recognizing these changes and adjusting their offerings to address them is essential for the continued success of boutique fitness studios.
In Summary: Be Versatile
The Boutique Fitness Summit 2023 shed light on the challenges and opportunities within the boutique fitness industry. From taking a holistic approach to member well-being to addressing business fundamentals and brand identity, operators are constantly evolving to meet the demands of a competitive marketplace. By staying adaptable and attuned to member expectations, boutique fitness studios can continue to thrive in an ever-changing fitness landscape.
Want to learn how your business can become more versatile?