Andy Kenny Fitness – a start-up case study

From stating in a corridor to having his own purpose built facility, Andy Kenny, owner of Andy Kenny Fitness and a Sage Business Expert, has spent seven years growing his personal fitness business into a successful operation. Here he shares his thoughts on the lessons he learned along the way, and what helped him succeed.

I specialise in helping people lose weight and when I originally started in 2007, I was using a corridor in the basement of a gym to train my clients. I noticed the space was going unused and that the area was just big enough that I could train clients in private. I negotiated a good contract with the gym to rent the space, got some basic equipment and gradually built up enough clients to make it profitable. Within a few years I’d built up enough capital to move to my own larger studio.

As the number of clients I had continued to increase, I expanded to offer group classes and within 2 years quickly outgrew the studio. So began work on designing a new, larger premises. The design and refit took over 3 months to complete, but has left me with a large, state of the art, purpose built facility. This time I had the experience to find a premises that was the right size – the new reception is bigger than the entire previous studio. Location, on street frontage, demographics and budget were the other main factors to consider. I was also intent on finding somewhere that could be expanded in the future and there’s plenty of room for a mezzanine level if needed.

The fitness industry has a very difficult, quiet period over the summer (May-October). As such I was careful to coincide the move with the start of my busiest time of year (November) in order to maximize my cash flow. As always, the build went over budget and dragged on longer than forecast, but as cash-flow was good, I was able to absorb it. Had I moved at the quieter time, I would have been in big financial difficulties from the start. It was tempting to move in the quiet time, to ensure it got my full attention but I was fortunate to resist the temptation. I was also able to negotiate a very good rent-free period with the landlord, which helped a lot.

I’ve grown from a maximum capacity in 2007 of 40 clients a week, to large group classes with an unlimited number of potential clients. I’m lucky to be in an industry with few overheads. There isn’t much equipment required or that needs maintaining, staff levels are low, and the main product I sell is my time and experience which has no material cost. The big mistakes I made were, grossly underestimating the cost of the expansion, not prioritising window signage and an advertising budget.

I look forward to increasing my customer base through using social media, word of mouth and improved on street signage. There’s always the challenge of generating more clients in the quieter summer months and I will need to diversify my services to conquer these low profit months. One option is to offer online packages, focusing marketing to countries that are in winter when the fitness industry is generally busier, thereby shifting focus on countries every few months to maximize peak seasons.

I believe being fit and healthy feels great. I excel at helping clients discover this to achieve a better body and health. Therefore my mission is to inspire, motivate and guide my clients to a happier, healthier life.

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