Inspiration for Women’s in small businesses – Business Story by Matthew Ney

I hope the Story of David Crane inspired and interested you as much as it gripped me. Here is another piece, in response to our Business Story Contest, by Matthew Ney, who runs a Gym and Fitness Center with his wife. Ney¡¯s story tells the tale of a small business, and the challenges it faces in its competition for survival. I found this story particularly gripping for its rendition. Not everyone has a fairytale business venture, in which a business idea is converted into a successful business. There are ups and downs and Matthew Ney¡¯s story inspires in the way he has fought to survive these hurdles. I hope you guys find his business story very interesting. I would also like to wish Matthew Ney all the luck in making his business very popular.

By Matthew Ney

¡°In November 2008, my wife was working as a Fitness Trainer at a local Fitness Facility. She had been there almost 8 years and loved it. In mid-November the owner of the Facility told her she was closing down her business on November 30th. Just like that, 8 years of loyalty and now income was soon to be gone. We went into action the day she was told and started looking for somewhere to house a small Reformer Pilates business. As luck would have it, just down the road was another Gym, struggling to stay afloat (different story) but wanting to diverse their offerings. We leased a 15′ X 15′ space and started up on December 1st. We stayed at that facility till May, when due to the mismanagement of the gym we were at, we were forced to look somewhere else.

We landed at a local Golf Course who had an unused fitness center. We ordered some more equipment and added Personal Training as well. I was laid off from my job in April 2009 so rather than go back to corporate again; I started with my Personal Trainers Certification and then added 3 other Certification since. We have struggled with cash flow, marketing (value), operating systems and did I mention cash flow? We have added Running Coaching and put on running events. We have settled on a Marketing Program, which will include a Fitness operating system. We struggled as husband and wife, I think mostly due to the strains of having enough money to run our business and pay for our bills at home as well. But, by the grace of God we have managed and are seeing things get better each month. Our biggest problem though is always having new clients to replace those that stop or take a break. We’ve revamped our website with new things, videos and we will take a look at selling items(nit determined fully) online. Looking forward to the future.¡± Our business is called Pilates Powerhouse and Personal Training. We are located on the web at: Our marketing plans (we just started working with a marketing company that specializes in Fitness in February) include at least one internal and one external marketing program/campaign per month for 2011. For example, one of our internal campaigns for March is to send out a 6 email sequence in 30 days to our past and inactive customers with an incentive to come back and train with us. The example for the External campaign is we are having a “Health & Fitness Expo”, inviting those types of businesses to set up a booth, offer a service that can be performed that day and a coupon for something from them down the road. We’ll have businesses performing blood pressure checks, 10 minute chair massages, healthy food, OB gyn coupons for services, etc…. We’ll add that event to our website with links to all and video from that day. Our Yearly Sales $ Goal is to grow 2011 by 50% from 2010. By working with our marketing company, they feel we can achieve that goal and more. We are also going to add a “business operating system” from our marketing company that can fully automate billing, track client sessions and help us perform the vital statistical information for analysis to help us tailor our monthly marketing campaigns. We’ve been tracking everything manually by hand, so to speak, and we’ve missed booking sales dollars and really staying in touch with our clients. We’ve been able to make a go of it so far based on several areas. First, we are Christians and we have a mentality to serve others and treat them with respect. I believe people know we have their best interest at heart. Second, my wife Bonnie has a tremendous reputation in our area for fitness; she has clients that go back 6 years. Third, we are athletes competing in everything from 5K’s to 50 mile races and we also do triathlons and biking. People know us and that helps from a recognition standpoint. Fourth, our niche market is Reformer Pilates and we don’t have a whole lot of competition in our area right now. We now plan from a marketing standpoint to really take advantage of that. Fifth, we’ve cut our expenses as much as we could and still do. We’ve not taken a weekly vacation in 4+ years in order to continue to operate our business. Fifth, we’ve tried to partner up with other business who we know our clients could benefit from, including chiropractic, massage and nutrition. With our newfound marketing company approach, there are ways to promote our business through these partnerships in many ways. Lastly, we’ve passed the two year mark being in business this last December. It’s been exciting and stressful at the same time. One of the great things we’ve realized is that we know we can adapt to life changing events and come out better set for the future.¡±

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