Franchisee Rosa McCartney recently launched her new business, Studio Pilates Albany Creek in Australia. The opening was such a success that she surprised even herself and smashed two Studio Pilates world records in the process
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your pilates journey
I was introduced to pilates by my physiotherapist, following major back surgery when I was 20. I was doing work on the Cadillac and on the fitball, but hadn’t actually tried reformer pilates. Then, for one reason or another, I lost contact with it.
Many years later, I happened to win a prize at the local café for a 10 class pass at Studio Pilates Ashgrove, so I decided to try again. Once I was introduced to the reformer I absolutely loved it and found it was so great for my back.
At the time I had my own recruitment business, recruiting salespeople and engineers for the medical and scientific industry and working from home. I was getting a little bit bored, to tell the truth, as I’m very much a people person and never happier than when I’m surrounded by lots of people. I decided to inquire about becoming an instructor and that’s when I found out about the franchise.
You checked out lots of other brands before signing up. What made you choose Studio Pilates?
Yes, when we found out about the franchise, we made sure to do our due diligence, so we looked around at other pilates franchises. But Studio Pilates had a really different feel to it, and that’s what really attracted me to the brand.
Right from the moment I walked in, and I saw that chandelier, I saw the set-out, the high-quality reformers in a beautiful surround. I loved the fact that the classes were run with videos and a voice-over and an instructor giving you really personalised attention, almost like a personal trainer. So I really enjoyed and appreciated that aspect compared to some other studios where they’re really big and they don’t give you as much attention.
Another major factor was the knowledge of the instructors – they knew everything about me, knowing that I had had a laminectomy many years ago. That I had a lot of pelvic instability. So the fact that they were aware of all that, and they kept that in mind with all the exercises really attracted me to Studio Pilates.
It’s a classy brand. It’s well thought out. It’s consistent. It just offers something that a lot of other studios don’t offer.
Why did you decide to go for a franchise?
I don’t think I could have done this on my own. It’s great having the expertise that guides you along, plus the product is amazing.
With a franchise, it’s all there for you. You’ve got the support network so if something goes wrong, there’s always someone there to help. You don’t have to start from the very beginning. The foundation is already laid out for you. All you’ve got to do is come in, do all the right things, and you’ll succeed, and make good money.
The brand sells itself because everyone knows Studio Pilates. It’s got a good reputation. You don’t hear people saying negative things about the brand. I just wanted that connection and to be part of a team and I wanted the assistance with marketing and advertising, advice on instructing, all those sorts of things.
Everyone’s taught the same way which is really important, so there’s that consistency, that would have been very difficult to do by myself. I know people go out there and do it by themselves, but I don’t think they have the same success, as it’s hard to compete with the Studio Pilates brand.
I do feel like I’ve been part of the family. I know everyone at HQ, and we have a couple of franchisee forums where we can discuss things as well. So it’s supportive, it’s nice to know that there are other franchisees to share ideas or issues with.
What role do you have in the business?
I’m probably more about the people because that’s my background, HR and recruitment, so it’s all about teamwork for me. I get called Mamma Rosa by all my instructors!
The first thing is you have to lead from the top, and then it’s about your instructors. If they’re happy, and they’re doing the right thing, then your clients are happy.
As well as leading the team, my role is more on the marketing side of things. I work very closely with my manager across both studios, Albany Creek and Nundah. I go out and visit local businesses, spread the word, have meetings. I also set up the 30-day challenges and all the different promotions that we have, make sure everything is running in the studio, ordering stuff, contracts, and so on.
How did the launch at Albany Creek go?
The opening was fantastic, just like one big party. There was hype, with people outside everywhere, and looking in the windows. I had all my staff, even from Nundah, come over, and they all had their jobs to do and were walking the clients in, telling them what was going to happen for the day. We had little sample bags with cookies and vouchers in them, I covered the ceiling with silver and black balloons, and the classes were completely full.
Everyone was smiling. People were talking, and I think that just made me feel really good that people loved being here, and they walked out of their classes with big smiles on their faces. The girls were waiting outside for them, giving them their little sample bags. I think people were wowed. And I wish I could do it all over again!
As a people person, I was in my element having all those people around me. It was the biggest satisfaction. I achieved the highest sales in the network for the first week of opening a new studio and the highest sales for the first month in a new studio too, which was something I really didn’t expect!
What have you enjoyed most about running your own business? Has any aspect surprised you?
This is not something I thought I would do in my life, so it has come as a big surprise to me, but I don’t think I could see myself doing anything else now. This is my way of seeing people improve in their lives. I got into HR and recruitment because I wanted to help people in some way, and I used to get such satisfaction when I’d place someone in a job they loved. This gives the same satisfaction but more regularly because you see it every day with the people going in and out of your classes.
Working for myself has certainly given me the lifestyle I want. I’m busy because I’ve got the two studios, and we’re still in our infancy here at Albany Creek, but I still have my lifestyle. If I can’t come in one day because I’ve got stuff to do at home I know I’ve got great staff looking after the studios and great instructors, so I don’t feel worried. But I do like to make sure I’m here as much as I can, so my clients know that I’m around and that I care about my business. You’ll see me walking through the studio, going up to people while they’re stretching, just having a chat and if I haven’t met them before, introduce myself, and then I go off home.
I don’t think I could ever go and work for someone else now.
Have you been surprised by the success of your studio so far?
Yes, especially in the first month we opened up. The first week we were fine. The second week we went into COVID closure for three days, and then we had Easter, so I was quite shocked at the success we had in our first month with all those interruptions. I looked at the figures, and I went, “Wow.”
We hit the top studio for the first week of opening, and then we broke a second world record, and we made top studio for sales in the first month of opening despite the COVID closure and Easter. So yes, I was quite taken aback and quite pleased.
What words of advice do you have for those thinking of taking the plunge and opening a Studio Pilates?
Well, I have a few principles of Ps that I think are important. It starts off with passion. You’ve got to have passion for what you’re working in. No one’s going to love your business if you don’t. So if you love your pilates, if you love fitness, do it because this is a great product. Then perseverance. Don’t give up. You’ve got to work hard at first because that’s just the way it is. I don’t do things by halves, and I know that you only get out of something that you put into it, nothing comes magically. If you’re prepared to put in the hours and put in the sacrifice and the commitment you will do well. I also believe that personality matters. You have to love people. You have to want to see them improve their health and their fitness. I think that is the most rewarding thing you can get out of having a Studio Pilates. You watch clients walk in at the beginning of their journey and then three, four weeks later, they’re totally different. Their body’s changed. Their mental attitude has changed, and it is amazing to see.
I would also say, don’t be scared to sell the product. A lot of people shy away from being pushy and selling. You need to change your perspective when you’re talking to people. If they’ve enquired about pilates, you’re doing them a favour by telling them about it. Don’t worry about saying, “Hey, we’ve got a 50 class pass that’s $1,050.” Stop looking at it as a sell. If you’re really, truly, genuinely passionate about the product, then that shouldn’t matter, so change your perspective.
If you love this product, then do it. And if you put the work into it, and you choose the right spot, you will make money out of it. And you’ll have a hell of a time while you’re doing it. You’ll have so much fun. You’ll build some great relationships. You’ll go to bed thinking, “I had a great day at work.” You’ll never go home thinking, “God, that was deadly boring,” because it’s just not. It’s just a lot of fun. Yeah, if it’s something you want, go for it. Don’t let people hold you back.
What has brought the biggest smile to your face?
There was certainly a smile on my face when I got the world record. That was satisfying because I thought, “Wow, I can do this.”
But the main thing that brings a really big smile to my face is the positive feedback from clients. We had a long customer review recently that actually made me cry, from someone that had a lot of problems with his health. He talked about all the things he can now do since beginning his pilates journey, how it’s changed his life in a major way, and he was so grateful. That meant so much. I think that’s the biggest satisfaction of all, that you can change people’s lives.
I feel very lucky. I’ve got two great studios. I’ve got fabulous instructors. I love the clients. It’s fun, and I never thought I would one day own my own pilates studio or two even. I never thought I’d own my own business. This has been really satisfying, and if I had to do it again, I would absolutely do it again.
So do you see yourself continuing to grow your business?
I really never thought that I’d have even a second studio. It started off with Nundah and then opening Albany Creek. But, all continuing to go well, I would love to open a third studio one day.
And I’d like to stay very involved, with a close community of instructors working with me to support all the different studios. So yes, I see myself continuing to grow it until I retire!
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