The Secrets to Pilates Business Success with Studio Owner Luke Meessmann

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Episode: 10

In this episode, I am joined by Luke Meessmann, a successful Pilates studio owner.  Luke talks openly about the challenges and triumphs of running a Pilates business.

We delve into essential aspects like knowing your numbers, hiring a team, marketing strategies, and dealing with unexpected challenges. Luke’s journey serves as an inspiration for those looking to excel in the health and fitness industry.  Luke provides invaluable tips that can benefit both new and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Key Takeaways:

1. Know Your Numbers: Understanding the financial aspects of your business is crucial. It’s not just about revenue, but also expenses, profit margins, and areas for improvement.

2. Building the Right Team: Hiring is a critical process. Beyond qualifications, assess if the candidate’s values align with your business. Utilize tools like strength finder tests to find complementary strengths.

3. Adaptability is Key: Being able to adapt to unexpected challenges, like the impact of COVID-19, is essential. Find ways to pivot and keep moving forward.

4. Stay True to Your Why: Have a strong reason for wanting to grow your business. It will be the driving force behind your decisions and actions.

5. Effective Marketing Doesn’t Always Require Paid Ads: Word of mouth and building strong relationships with complementary businesses can be powerful marketing tools. Organic strategies can be just as effective as paid ones.

6. Establish Personal Habits for Positivity: Incorporate practices like meditation, breathing exercises, and physical activity into your routine to maintain a positive outlook and stay focused.

7. Embrace the Roller Coaster Ride: Entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs. Understand that challenges are part of the journey, and having a clear head and fresh perspective is crucial to overcoming them.

8. Expansion Requires a Clear Purpose: Before growing, identify why you want to expand. Ensure it aligns with your personal and professional goals for true fulfillment.

Remember, Luke’s journey from studio owner to successful entrepreneur is a testament to the power of persistence, adaptability, and a clear sense of purpose. His insights can serve as a guiding light for anyone looking to thrive in the fitness industry.

Thank you for tuning into “From Passion to Profit“! Don’t forget to subscribe, share, and leave us a review. We’ll be back soon with more inspiring stories and valuable insights. Until next time!

0:00 Business journey and insights with Pilates studio owner.
1:51 Starting and growing a Pilates studio.
6:44 Financial management and profitability in a fitness business.
13:56 Delegating tasks and taking a hands-off approach in business.
19:42 Building a successful business with a team while maintaining core values.
24:51 Hiring, team building, and pricing strategies for a successful fitness business.
30:56 Marketing strategies for a multiple six-figure health and fitness business without paid ads.
35:48 Overcoming challenges in business ownership.
41:02 Staying positive and motivated as a business owner.
46:31 Future growth and expansion plans for a fitness studio.

Nichola Page  00:00

Today I am joined by one of my fabulous clients, Mr. Luke Meessmann from Absolute-Studios in London. Now Luke and I have been working together for over four years now, well over four years now, since the pre-COVID days, if you can remember those days.  I asked Luke to join me today because I thought it would be a huge benefit to you to hear his business journey. Luke has his own Pilates or Reformer Pilates Studio in London. In fact, he has a couple now. And there have been some highs and there have been some lows, but I wanted this session to really inspire you, wherever you are listening to this to achieve your business goals. And there's going to be plenty of insights that Luke is going to be sharing along the way. So get your pen and paper ready. That's for sure. So Luke, welcome. Thank you very much for giving up your time today for joining us very much appreciated. I know you're extremely busy, man. So thanks for being here.

Luke Meessmann  01:01

Of course, for you anything anytime. Yeah, it's great to be here. I like talking about this stuff. So this is good. Let's go.

Nichola Page  01:08

So I've got I've got loads of questions for you. So first and foremost, then can you share your journey of how you came to have your first Pilates studio?

Luke Meessmann  01:23

Sure. That could be a podcast episode in itself. But I'll give you the abridged version. Exactly. So for a bit of context, I've been working in the reformer, Pilates and the sort of dynamic niche of that, or a good way while now since 2007. So I've worked with one of these sort of founding companies of the dynamic reformer style for a good eight years and help them grow to a successful, successful business. And then I went and tried my hand at gym management for a year, which was initially a welcome break. But then I kind of very swiftly realising that you're not supposed to be sitting behind a desk, you're supposed to be in a reformer studio, doing what you do best. And so I yeah, I left that after a year. And I was actually freelancing, just went back to my roots. And I was freelancing, instructing at a few different places. And a buddy of mine that had actually trained up to be a reformer, instructor way back in the day, called me up and said, Hey, I'm working at this place. Absolutely. And I thought, thought of you, your, your extra classes. Come down, send me a CV, and I'll send it to the guy that owns it. So I was like, Okay, fine. I sent my car CB over. And about an hour later, I got a call from the owner of the business. And I thought this is really weird. Like, the owner doesn't normally call you up to just welcome you to being on their cover list. So. So that was great. had a chat to him. And he's like, Yeah, that's cool. Come and do some classes. But can we go for a coffee because I really want to speak to you about something else. So yeah, went for a coffee. And he was like, Look, mate, I've got a couple of these, these studios and fitness businesses, because I like fitness, but he was full time in finance in the city. So I just don't have the time to run these things properly. Do want to come in, you know, invest into the business and you know, be a be a partner with me. And then you can run the thing day to day I was like, hell yes. Let's go. So did that. That was 2017. And then he decided to step away from from that completely in 2019. So then I sort of took over the reins. And yeah, a couple of years later, here we are with two studios, which I'm sure we'll get to in due course. But yeah, that was how I came to be the proud owner of Absolute studios, in a nutshell. Amazing.

Nichola Page  04:00

So when we first started we first met each other in 2019 I didn't realise it was that close after you've just taken the studio over, everyday’s a school day, right? Something new I've learned already. So what was it about having the one studio that kind of inspired you to then go and decide to get a second studio because that that did happen? Or that happened? The second studio was a midst COVID-19 that you made that decision. So what on earth inspired you to go and get a second one?

Luke Meessmann  04:33

You know, it was it really was the the old adage of where ration meets opportunity. It was it was an exact example of that. So you know I'd worked really hard obviously started you know, started working with yourself and we got some good, good clarity and direction on how to move things forward and turn what was a real really good studio in terms of turnover into a really good studio that was actually profitable. So that was an inspiration is like, oh, I can do this, I have now have a profitable business, this is cool. Managed to hire a really great team, the inspiration and the I guess the kind of confidence boost that I got from turning what was a studio that was doing okay. Definitely not as profitable as it should have been into something that looked and felt very much like a studio. But I wanted, I'm sure we'll get on to core values and all that kind of stuff later. But it was very much okay, I'm actually proud of their studio now and of and of the guys that I've got working with me. So it was all of those factors. And then that was the preparation. And then the opportunity was friends of ours took on what was pretty derelict building site. And they've turned it into an art gallery to, to residential accommodations. And then they approached myself and my wife and they were like, you know, we don't want to do a third flat. We want to diversify the income on this thing a little bit. How would you guys feel about doing a Pilates studio? And we were then feeling pretty good about ourselves and confident everything like, Yeah, let's go. Yeah. Yeah, as you said, that was without the crystal ball of seeing into the future of the wonderful COVID signs. But, you know, we just, we just kind of pushed on. And yeah, the studio got built during COVID, because construction was one of the one things that could keep going on. And that happened. And then we had an amazing Grand Opening launch for 10 days before shutting down for five months. And then we had an even more amazing relaunch, which I actually count as the launch. I don't count the wasted five months. Yeah, not having people in the place. But yeah, so

Nichola Page  06:55

we'll come to and we will come to that in a moment. But I just want to I want to come back to something actually work that you've, you mentioned about the fact that you the business when you first studio absolute first studio was good. I've heard you mentioned this before as well. Good on paper, but the reality of it, not quite the same. So and what you mean by that in terms of the turnover? So the income that was coming into the business was looks great. If he was to refer to that figure, it looks great, but the profit, not so great. Prior to kind of our conversations, was you looking at that side of the business very much had you done any work on that? Or was it were you just because a lot of people do focus primarily on the revenue on the income? So what was it like for you, what was you looking at the finances is anything in any great detail.

Luke Meessmann  07:54

So this is where Yeah, I wasn't my business partner at the time, that was kind of hit more of his roommate, being the finance guy. So my kind of focus was, Alright, get in, you know, teach a bunch of classes, get the team working together as a team, rather than just a bunch of kind of disparate instructors coming in and teaching some classes here, there and everywhere. Obviously, you know, connect with these 16 client base grow that marketing and all the rest of it. So yeah, my business partner side was okay, let's look at cost, profit margins, all that kind of stuff. So, but like I said, you know, the poor guy, he, you know, for the best well in the world, he had a full time gig in the city, and, you know, sort of two to three fitness businesses. So it's just a case of, yeah, not enough time to have a really good granular look at things. So yeah, I've learned leaps and bounds, like so much sense, you know, being taking it on myself and actually going, Okay, you need to look at this stuff now. Yeah. You can't just be Mr. Instructor Mr. You know, team building guy, which that was the kind of, I want to say easy, but that would felt natural to me. Yeah. And the less natural bit was or what are these numbers on the spreadsheet mean? Obviously, hugely, hugely important to running a profitable business. So yeah, thankful to have learned some stuff in that respect on the way. Yeah.

Nichola Page  09:27

So what we know what with that, I didn't didn't want to kind of skirt over that fact. Because, as you know, I always and if you've been listening to a few more podcasts Now, you might have heard me talk about numbers a few times before but I'm very much about knowing what your numbers are, in terms of being able to project project for for growth, but more importantly for profitable growth. And that is something that you now has embedded within your business. So, would you mind just sharing? Like, how does that? How does that work in terms of how you work? Because I know it's not just you and your business now you've kind of transitioned and moved out of that day to day operations. But how does that kind of work now with you and your two studio managers? How do you utilise those numbers? How does it work between the three of you?

Luke Meessmann  10:26

Sure, so I think the key, the key thing here is have a system of recording everything so that you can, as you rightly say, like know your numbers, and then identify if you're naturally inclined to do that, and I say this reference my last point, because when you do make the transition from trainer, manager, head trainer, whatever you were doing before, to actually becoming a business owner, you need to know your party numbers. So that having a system to do that, almost as the key so it's right, right, get a system, then, fine. If you're naturally, you'd like that stuff, you want it, you want to have your head in the spreadsheet, great. Crack on do it yourself. If you don't, and I don't quite honestly, hire some people that really liked that ship. and train them, train them, well look after them. And then, once you've done that period of training, you can see you can step back, and then focus on the stuff that you really liked to do. So that's the macro, I guess. And a bit more of the nitty gritty is we have an amazing metrics spreadsheet. And I know you didn't want it to be a testimonial, but set up by your good self. That we that we we work towards and off that runs everything. So we'll come in and we know exactly. Before we're projecting sort of two, three months out, we'll know right? These are our fixed costs for the business. This is what we need to break even. We're not interested in breaking even we're interested in being profitable. We've got a certain target for the level of business, we are now in terms of percentage profit per month that we're looking at. So shout out to my two, my two girls, Jemima and Alexis, those guys are in that on the daily. And like I said, we base everything off that again, many people do we need to be taking up our intro offer? How many of those do we need to convert to being on various membership tiers? How many people are likely to come on to perhaps how does it impact the cash flow? You know, do we need? Do we have any maintenance? You know, big service charge bills coming up? Do we want to upgrade some equipment in the future? So all of that we look at and we account for. And that discipline gives us them the freedom to go and do what we do with it with a clear headspace certainly gives me that which is like the idea.

Nichola Page  13:06

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, numbers, the numbers don't lie. So numbers give you the facts. Because I think all too often we can be very close to our own businesses. And correct me if I'm wrong, but we're very attached like having a child isn't it you you love your business, you've helped to nurture it and grow it. And sometimes we can't always see what is blatantly staring us in the face. But if you have something like the metrics that you refer to there, where you're tracking your numbers, and you do it on a regular consistent basis, it shows you it guides you and tells you what actions you actually need to take in your business. So it's a lot easier for you or somebody else who's managing your business to actually to actually do that. It's it's like it's right there in black and white. Some. So I got a question for you now that so many small business owners will find it really challenging to kind of step away from the daily operations. So I know this is something that you have done now, to a degree anyway, to a degree, you had a big time off recently, going back to you back to Australia for a while and your both your studios will run brilliantly without you. So how did you manage to take that step to delegate those tasks to take a more of a hands off role in the studios? How did that work?

Luke Meessmann  14:29

Yeah, so I think the when you speak, you know, you sort of mentioned the challenge. The challenge usually comes from one of two places, it's either that you feel you need to be absolutely hands on 100% of the time in the business, managing everything. So that's that's like the kind of internal challenge, I guess. Yeah. And then yeah, the external challenge is, you know, Maybe you're at a place where the business actually requires you to do that. So if you're kind of a one man band, which I was for a period of time, effectively, then it is kind of incumbent on you to do all the little bits, even if it's draining the very soul from you, when you're doing it. So to meet those two challenges, so the internal one is simply about the answer kind of fits both. But it's if you can hire really good people, train them well, and especially higher against the business needs, and just very simply put the stuff that you don't like doing, and that you really crap out. So it's a bit about being honest with yourself. So I always Yeah, I always tell this story. And it's, it was such a revelation, you know, again, doing the doing the little exercise with you where you get the a4 sheet of paper, cut it up into four squares, top right quadrant, I'm awesome at this, and it lights me up. Next quadrant down. I'm pretty good at this doesn't necessarily float my boat, but I'm okay. Next one down, kind of suck at this. And it's draining me. And last one is I'm absolutely crap at this. And I freaking hate it.

Nichola Page  16:21

Stopping the business from moving forward. Yeah, well,

Luke Meessmann  16:24

yeah, it's a bottleneck. And then over time, you try to do as much of what you can do in that top right quadrant. Because not only is it better for your own peace of mind and sanity, it's going to be better for the business down the line. So that takes a while. But it can absolutely be done. And I'm kind of Living Proof and the business is living proof that you can do it. So back prior to hiring Jemima. And then subsequently Alexis for the second site. That was a good six months where I was it was incumbent upon me to do everything. So I was between studio managers, I wanted to make sure that I got the right person. So waiting was the right decision that's been proved with having Jim on board, but it was freaking hard. And it took me a while to get out of you have to do all the emails, you have to do all the sales you have to do teaching still a load of classes, plus private clients X Y, Zed, it was absolutely nuts. Now, having flipped that to studio manager, Operations Manager in Jemima, an excellent studio manager and Alexis hired the right people, train them up well. And then you just let them go. And then you be there, you don't just let them go. And like it's kind of Right, I'm off off into the sunset, you be there and you support them.  Stay out of their way that bandied about but it really is true. And Case in point, I was able to take my family back to Australia for five weeks, which was, you know, a five year trip in the making COVID, etc. And kind of held on for maybe five days of those five weeks to checking in on emails and just kind of being there. You guys. Okay. And I was up at midnight, Australia time. Just checking in on the guys. And they were like, What are you doing up at this time? And I was like, yeah, what am I doing at this time, put the damn phone down, flip the laptop off, and really touch it again for the remainder of that trip. And lo and behold, everything ran really, really well. And we had the two for both studios. The Yeah, best month ever. Yeah. In August, which is absolutely bonkers.

Nichola Page  18:52

Yeah, it was amazing. Amazing financial months. Amazing. Yeah.

Luke Meessmann  18:56

So that's, yeah, it's a good example. Going from on for dear life, maybe having to do everything. Having that challenge of doing everything in the business to be able to step back and go away on holiday for five weeks and have it be wildly successful in your absence. That's kind of the goal when you when you have your own place, okay,

Nichola Page  19:23

so let's break that down. And if somebody is listening to this and thinking I want a piece of that, I just want to be able to go away for a month however long not have to worry about getting on my laptop because I know that my business is being taken care of. So we so that might that might take you a year two years to get to that point. It might take you sooner than that. Okay, but step number one is I think what you what you mentioned there is about you did the cold quadrant exercise that you described perfectly. It is also a bit so it's about being okay to know what your story answer on what strengths you bring to the business. And then be even more okay with the fact that you're going to bring in huge talent that's going to prop the gaps up where your strengths don't lie. Absolutely. That's the key thing, I think sometimes people's ego can get in the way, they don't want to bring in great talent, because they think, Oh, our or, you know, they think this whole, I should be able to do it, or they don't necessarily recognise where their strengths are, and where they're, I don't necessarily like to call it weaknesses, but they're your gaps there, they don't like you up, therefore, you won't do it very well. And you did that piece of work. So I think that has to be done. First and foremost, you also need to make sure that you, you kind of build the business with the future in mind, in terms of you hire for roles that are going to take your business forward, quicker. So I think there's two things there, which you do, well, now, when you come to hiring someone, I'm going to come bring this back to you. And there's something I always talk about with in terms of like your core values. So if you haven't heard of core values, they basically just describe the culture of your business. But how did core values play a role for you, in terms of bringing in the right team members? Would you say how important has that been?

Luke Meessmann  21:34

It's huge. In like one word, it's, it's, it's really, really important. If you look at it like this, you nothing else, think about the amount of time spent with these people. And if it's your business, you know, your core values are inextricably going to be pretty linked to your own core values as a person.

Luke Meessmann  21:58

So you need to hire people that are going to be able to work that you're going to be able to work with them, and vice versa, very closely, especially if it's a key hire like a operations manager or a studio manager. And then secondly, like you will know your clients better than anyone else. So you kind of you have to put yourself in their shoes as well. When you're when you're hiring people to bring into the team, because that's the only way that you're going to be able to bring someone on that you work amazingly with and that your clients love. So that's, that's really, really key. So, you know, firstly, it's about identifying what the core values of the business are. Ours are really simple. They that care, spells the word care, which is what we're all about. So basically higher on that as like, does, and it's all through the, you know, the sort of interview script and the process that we have, we're just looking for people that genuinely care. And obviously, there's, you know, key facets of the role that they have to be good at. But if we're starting from a starting point of they're gone from there, we're going to be good. Yeah. And you can't fake that either, right? I mean, if you, that's the bit that you can't really train. And you definitely can't fake. And if you can, maybe you can for a while, but then you get found out. I mean, that's why it's so important.


Nichola Page  23:36

Your values or your traits, they are some sometimes values can change over a period of time of experience. But usually, when your back is against the wall, you will read you your natural trait will come out. And that's what we're talking about here with values, for example, you know, like responsibility, and being responsible for your own actions that might be an example of a core value. But hiring against those is is hugely important, which that's something that you did, there was a lot of work that went into that. But then you also did kind of going down a real hiring route here. Probably a podcast for another episode, actually. But also you looked at what they're we did a test with them, we did the Gallup strength, strength finder tests with them to make sure that they had the right strengths that would fit with that role, but also complement where your strengths were at as well. It's exactly it's kind of another thing so that's kind of before you even think about the person is is making sure they don't have a tick in the box for both of those and then they should be a good fit for the role. Which is what you have found with both of your studio managers now hasn't all been plain sailing though. did have a higher that didn't work out? Yeah, then but we are you are at a point where you've got perfect people. Yeah.


Luke Meessmann  25:11

And that's, that's really important, but you're not going to get this right 100% of the time. It's just, it's just a simple fact of, you know, people can come in and present really, really well. And maybe even, you know, do really well for a couple of months. But, you know, things happen, people change circumstances change. Yeah, as that was going on, I'll never forget that. You know, we had a little conversation and you were like, well, your business is a grown up now. Yeah, and it is. So for anyone that's listening, if you've had that situation before. It's, it's just a fact of life. And you just go on to the next one, you keep doing your thing. And you will find gems, no pun intended. And, and diamonds in the rough, that you can mould and polish. And that will do really well for yourself, your business and your clients. And that's what it's all about. Yeah. mazing.

Nichola Page  26:05

Okay. So there's a, there's a big part of getting the right, the right team involved. You can't underestimate underestimate that. So by live, let's talk about some strategies now, then. So what do you feel have been some of the key strategies or the decisions that have contributed to you having your best financial month ever, which, if you're listening, depending on when you're listening to this, this podcast was actually in August. So during the month of August, both your studios had the best financial month ever profit and turnover, when most people in the fitness industry would say, August is a dead month? No, not for absolute studios, the best month ever? I just want to stress that. So what were the what do you think were the the key strategies or the decisions that kind of led us to that point?

Luke Meessmann  26:55

Sure, well, I think one thing is we can get into the strategy for sure. But one thing is having built before, you're gonna lay a strategy and kind of being cute with things on to anything, you have to have a solid product and foundation, and you know, or service that you're offering. Because without that, you can do all sorts of crazy, wonderful sales and marketing stuff. But if the thing that people want is not there, or it's kind of half there, and they're a bit on the fence about it, it's none of that's going to work. So once you've got that, you know, by this was, by virtue of the fact of all the crazy cost of living increase, etc, etc. business costs go up, yeah, we found ourselves in a position to have been having to do a price increase. So we're like, right, how are we going to go about this? Are we going to, you know, just do it willy nilly? Or are we going to, you know, actually be a bit discerning about this. And, you know, obviously, it's something that no one wants, but we do some really great work on the wording of how that message was put out.  So everybody understood in such a way that we like, right, okay, this is when the prices are going up.  We position the message a couple of weeks lead time out from that. And we just, you know, reminded people and this was during August. As you go, guys, the prices are going up in September. You know, if you want to get an extra pack or, or something in, top yourself up before that happens, you know, make sure you do I will give you that opportunity to get an extra pack or two. And, you know, save yourself some money in the long run before the necessary has to happen. So we did that. Went off like hotcakes. Yeah, so we had pretty busy in terms of footfall in the studios, especially in Parsons green, that didn't really die down a great deal at all. And we had the revenue coming in from you know, people buying up the packs before before the price increase happened. I don't even think we really delve too much into how much they were going up. But no, they didn't know but the the appetite was there. People are like, right, I love these classes. Okay, I'm gonna have to pay more for them in the future. So let's get a hands on as many as we can. Now, before that happens. So that's the kind of marrying up of have a really solid product and service and following. And then, you know, you turn a kind of a negative word, quote, unquote, situation of having to do a price increase. You know, show you care, which is what we did in the messaging of the emails, texts, like look, it's unavoidable. And we're open and honest about that, which we are. Here's how you can get more of what you like for less before it has to go up. And that's obvious Everybody jumped it up. Yeah, that's, that's how we had crazy August. Yeah.

Nichola Page  30:05

And I mean, for just for those listening to clarify, you offer memberships and you offer class pack, some people are happy to go straight into a membership others a bit kind of reserved about it but are happy to buy a pack, which is why you do do both of those class packs. So there's certain number of classes per pack. In terms of the price increase, though, to my account when we had our last call, was that last week? No one has actually kind of there's been no noise about the fact that there's been a price increase either has it's gone relatively smoothly, unless you're about to tell me otherwise, since we've spoken. But, but even that went off? Well, yeah. Yeah.

Luke Meessmann  30:55

I think that's, you know, it's, it's not just us, it's the country over right. The world, the world over to some degree. So I think we weren't telling people anything new. But I think when you're going to deliver a message, especially if it's one like that, you just got to do it with Yeah, care, which is you've got to hold to your values. And, you know, do it with some empathy and, and just be honest. Yeah, I mean, you really can't get away from just being honest and authentic. And it's a necessary evil guys. And I think that messaging and the way we sort of delivered that has contributed to the fact that okay, cool. Yeah, deep down. We'd rather it didn't happen, but it's happening. And it's just, you know, keep calm, relatively, and carry on. Yeah.


Nichola Page  31:51

Okay. So let's just talk about strategy wise, then I'm sure people listening and thinking, well, how, what kind of marketing strategies do you use? Are you doing loads of paid ads? Are you spending a fortune on your marketing? Or what do you guys do? Do you want to share a couple of couple of your key marketing strategies that work? Well for you? And whether they're paid or not?


Luke Meessmann  32:15

Sure. No, I haven't paid for an ad in. God knows how long.

Nichola Page  32:25

Let me re emphasise that part. They do not pay for ads. So this is organic marketing, that has helped them to grow. We're talking about multiple six figure studios. Now without paid for ads. I just wanted to labour that point. Because lots of people think you've got to spend a fortune on marketing, you just have to get the strategy. Right. So carry on Luke, sorry.

Luke Meessmann  32:50

No, and it is a point worth worth labouring for sure. It's super important. Because I used to be one of those people that were like, No, you have to throw 1000s of pounds at Facebook. And I did. And yeah, didn't really work. worked a little bit. The things that work well, for us now is word of mouth is the biggest it still is. And kind of has been for a while. So I think that's everyone kind of takes that for granted as well. That does bear repeating again, is if you if you did nothing else. But you really just put all your focus into wowing the hell out of people when they come into your place and train with you or your guys or wherever you've got, they're gonna go tell their friends. Yeah, cheapest, most effective marketing you can do. So that's, that's number one. Now, especially for a health and fitness business, you're likely to find yourself in a position where you're going to be complementary with other health and fitness businesses and allied health businesses. So the next biggest thing that we have people coming to visit is through developing relationships with those businesses. So for us, we've been working really, really closely with a particular chiropractic firm, Charlotte, Cairo, London for many, many years now. And more recently, really closely with an excellent physio company beyond health as well. And we have some amazing cross referral. But also from a team point of view, the Cairo London guys come in and train with us. And we give them we give them a team membership. And we get to go and get adjustments with them. So it's a nice way to, you know, reward your team as well and build up a really, really solid relationship that brings people into your business. So they're probably the main two, I would say.

Nichola Page  34:59

You are on social Social media and social media does work for you. But it's just oranic posting and messaging that's done. There's no paid ads going through social media, you just, I think I think sometimes the mistake people can make is they think, a they think they've got to do paid ads, that's the only way to go. Sometimes it is not necessarily, but they try and do spin too many different marketing plates, and therefore don't do very much very well. Whereas you guys, you've focused in on two or three key things. That is just, that's what you guys do, it works really well. Rather than getting distracted by shiny object syndrome and or not off you go trying to this, that and the other one, or what maybe is the latest craze of things to do you stay true to what you know, has worked, which I think is clearly it has it has paid off, which is great.

Luke Meessmann  35:56

absolutely. And I can I mean, and again, I was I was there, I was there and shiny object land, definitely, you know, chasing after all and sundry on sort of, you know, the next latest thing on on social media. And it's not, I don't want to stress, it's not bad. If that's your thing, if that's your thing, and it works for you crack on, like, go for it be on all the platforms, you know, post 10 times a day. And if that brings people into business, awesome, great. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you're not inclined to go down that route. And if you're much better suited to just being awesome, and let word of mouth do its thing. And if you're able to talk to other health business and bring them in or do some kind of organic content that brings people in then you lean into what you're good at. And that will nine times out of ten work for you.


Nichola Page  36:50

Brilliant. Okay, so we've spoken about all the good stuff. Now. Can you? I mean, it's been it's been a long journey, but what would you say some of the challenges are that you've encountered? And how did you overcome those challenges? Have there been any?

Luke Meessmann  37:21

Oh, yeah. For the benefit of listeners, yes. Yeah, it's a proper roller coaster, man, this, this business ownership gig. But it's, it's, it's worth it. It's totally worth it. At the end of the day. We've had loads of challenges right from when I came on boards. Yeah, I was taking on a studio that was like we said, you know, bringing in some bringing in some decent revenue. But yeah, very much, you know, haemorrhaging money out the other end. So that was one challenge to, to overcome, and really drill into the numbers and make sure we had a system in place for, you know, accounting for all of that. And I managed to overcome that. And, yeah, we've had ups and downs in the, in the hiring process, for sure. Like I said, you're never going to get that right. All the time. fairplay if you have it's tough that that side of things. Definitely give you a little knock, you know, sort of ego wise emotionally. So you've just got to, yeah, talk to some other people be able to step back from that. And, you know, overcome that challenge and just always looking to move forward. Other challenges COVID was a big one. Things can come out of the blue and sideswiping. Being able to adapt, if you are if you do happen to be in the position, or you can get yourself positioned where you've got a couple of rockstars around you. And again, this is back to hiring. Done well it pays massive dividends. So when COVID hit there was Yeah, me and Jemima and the Parsons green team. And we managed to flick from a full in studio schedule to a full online schedule on Zoom and in space of a week. Yeah, and myself and gym teaching away they're sort of three four classes away and you know, managed to which I always wanted to is keep keep the wider freelance team in some classes as well to keep them ticking over. So yeah, there's been there's been lots of ups and downs but I think if you Yeah, have a moment to do whatever you need to do. But then just try to take a breath. It's not easy. Whatever the challenge is that the students in front of you but literally stepping back, removing it soften the situation as best you can have a couple of deep breaths, definitely helps talk to some people vent, if you need to vent, just get that out. And then you come back with a clear head and a fresh perspective. And you go right, what's the problem? How are we going to solve it?

Nichola Page  40:16

Yeah, I mean, you are one of the most positive people I've come across. So it's in your nature to be positive and find the solutions, but and that, that was a very challenging time. Well, for everybody. You you found those solutions pretty pretty quickly. So would you say that you What have you got like some? Are there any kind of personal habits or routines that you have that helped you to stay positive, stay focused and motivated, that you could share some little pearls of wisdom about what you do in your own personal time?

Luke Meessmann  40:55

Yeah. Now listen, I think like, the overarching thing before I get into a few little examples is, and it's kind of a cliche now. But I think a lot of these cliches, you just have to accept that they are and you try to prove the cliche, as best you can, is, if you've got a strong enough reason for doing whatever the hell you're doing. You'll find a way out of whatever crap you find yourself in. So yep, I love being a business owner. I love teaching reformer Pilates. I love being a leader and finding ways to you know, motivate and inspire people. But all of that it's not for me, it's for my wife and three kids. Yeah. So if you've got something big enough, that you go like, right, you need to pull your socks up here to do something. That's where it starts. And that'll be different for everyone. You know, just go and have a have a one way chat with Simon Sinek and his stuff, and you'll be able to find out what your WHY is pretty swiftly.

Luke Meessmann  42:02

But then that aside, it's like how do you keep on track. So at my best, reasonably early in the morning, try to carve out a half hour or so before the chaos of having three little people that need to go to school starts. I work with a with a therapist, who specialises in hypnotherapy and meditation. So yeah, shout out to Terence. So working with him has been great, I've got a few little breathing techniques and meditations that I try to do more often than not. And just having that little moment of calm, whether it's you know, sort of 10 to 15 minutes in the morning has been one thing that's been really a revelation. And I'm just testing other stuff now as well. I love the whole world of I don't really like to hurt the term, but by hacking, I love all that stuff. So I've been experimenting with cold water therapy, heat therapy, just moving your body in the morning is great, even if it's 5/10 minutes. But just making that a dedicated practice is the key. And I'll be the first to admit I've fallen off the waggon over the last six weeks on that. So it's now right. Let's get back into the routine yourself. You know, practice what you preach and all that and carve out that half hour, even if 10 minutes, 10 minutes of it is your breathing technique. And that's it just do that. And then onwards and upwards. So yeah, have a solid, why. And then find some stuff that tests and stuff. Test a whole bunch of this stuff. And you'll find one or two things that you go Holy shit, I had a good day today. Think back to what was in that day and what you did at the start that helps it be so and then rinse and repeat.

Nichola Page  43:49

Yeah, perfect. So we're coming to the end. That's kind of if we can kind of consolidate everything you've said, What advice would you have for a studio owner? Maybe they don't even it's not necessarily about having a studio it's a their health and fitness business. They want to expand they want to grow. What would you, what's your key advice? For anyone listening who wants to grow?

Luke Meessmann  44:20

Do it.T  hat's a pretty glib answer. Actually. I only say that from personal experience.  Ask yourself why you want to do it first. That's key.  And if you're doing it, for reasons that really resonate with you, go ahead and do it. If you're doing it because you've got an idea that you have to expand to X amount of studios or you need to transition out of you know, maybe you're a freelancer trainer like I was whatever you're going to go in do next, you kind of got to have your own health and happiness at the start of it. Because you could expand to 10 Studios and be frickin miserable. And you could be wishing for the times that you were back there, teaching a bunch of classes, having a great time with people with like, none of the worries are having 10 Studios kind of levers upon you. So I think that's the thing is, like, identify why you want to do it. is, you know, you kind of identify that, yep, I want to do that. And that's, it's gonna make me happy and successful. Then you crack on and you go for it. And you go all in.

Nichola Page  45:41

Yeah and buckle up and be prepared to ride the roller coaster.

Luke Meessmann  45:44

Strap yourself in. It's a roller coaster. It's a good one, though. It's good fun. Yeah.

Nichola Page  45:49

But once you know, it's a roller coaster, you can, it's not just plain sailing, you don't just like go on a gradual incline all the way up, you go up and down, up and down. And you just have to, once you know that, and you prepared for that. And you look for the solutions and the way you'll be fine. You'll be fine. So how do you see the future of absolute then.  What your plans for future growth and expansion are kind of like part of me is wants to hear the answer to this and the oh my gosh, where is he going? Now? What's the plans?

Luke Meessmann  46:19

The immediate plan is number three, location TBC. But it won't be too far away. I can give that much away. So I'm in the exciting process of looking for Salford site now exciting and scary. Yeah, the old commercial rental has gone up quite recently. So that's that's the scary bit. But yeah, it's I've got confidence from the first two for sure that we can go and make a third one work. And then, interestingly enough, it's quite timely. I've had a whole bunch of opportunities land in my lap of people wanting to do things with with absolute. So it's just about exploring those really. So. There may be a couple of franchises. That may be some international expansion coming up. But it's Yeah.

Nichola Page  47:18

Yeah. Big. Big plans. Yeah. Amazing. Amazing. Yeah, really, I'm sure whatever it is going to be, whatever is going on in your head. And we'll have a conversation about whatever that is sometime soon. Whatever you are planning on, I have no doubt, no doubt whatsoever that you're gonna that you're going to achieve it you're going to smash those goals. So thank you, Luke. I really appreciate you giving up your time for coming and sharing your journey as a studio owner. And if you've listened, watch as you if you're still listening now that means you've listened to the whole lot. I hope you've made a tonne of notes of what Luke has been saying and I hope he has inspired you to achieve the goals that you've want that you want to achieve. Just know that you need to know your numbers is hard. Don't forget your numbers. Get that bit done. First of all, just had to get that Ben. Thank you, Luke. But if you've if you have enjoyed listening to this episode, please don't forget to SHARE SUBSCRIBE, and of course leave us a review. That's it from us as everything is done. See you on the next episode. Bye for now. Bye

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