Now that you have designed your wellness center, selected the equipment and attracted your client base, the key in keeping the doors open lies in your existing operations and processes. A vital component in being a successful business owner is how well you can maintain consistency in the day-to-day-operations, especially in the face of the unexpected. The insurance policy for such potential problems is to set up reliable SYSTEMs for running the wellness center. This acronym Save Yourself Some Time, Energy and Money can be the plan to ensure such processes are in place so that your entire staff, including yourself, knows what to do, which can be the next best thing to put your business on auto-pilot.
The less time that is spent re-inventing the wheel, the more time there is for revenue-generating and cost-saving opportunities. First, when you have a staff, these systems establish a standard for how to carry out the different tasks that are associated with particular jobs. It is important to remember that policies are not established to make things more difficult; they are to make business easier. Every time you make an exception, you introduce the potential for confusion. Establish policies that fit into your system of conducting business, and adhere to them rigorously. If you end up having a significant number of deviations, then you may need to look at your current systems and revise them to meet the demands of your situation.
As the owner of a wellness center, conserving your energy is paramount to success. If you let it, your new business can drain all the energy that you may have. Therefore, systems help to conserve precious energy because they allow you to perform multiple tasks, sometimes simultaneously, without any assistance. Imagine a system where clients can schedule sessions and consultations online and where your staff can process clients at the facility, all taking place while you are away from the center.
Saving money is certainly no new concept to business owners. For successful business owners, saving money is a very deliberate part of the operation, and they understand that money spent on the business should positively impact the bottom line. You have to spend money to make money. If you are spending your budget on items that are not making money, then you are doing something wrong. With systems, you can evaluate how employees are contributing to producing
revenue each month and then, make the appropriate adjustments where necessary. Advertising can be another culprit. Smart owners use systems to see if the money generated from advertising is more than the cost. If not, then you need to revise the strategy. In order to keep from throwing money away, develop these systems to evaluate how smartly you are spending money.
Beyond Your Present Customer Base
However, this SYSTEM is not the only area that is vital for the continued growth and expansion of the business. Successfully building your wellness center is highly centered on your clients. Therefore, the business concept of client retention being less costly than new client acquisition is obvious. In the competitive world of wellness, knowledge is power, and ignorance can mean death. The key is being able to know what information you can obtain from your clients that will allow you to grow your center. The truth is in order to know your customer, you need the data on them. In the world of consulting jargon, this type of information is what is called psychographics. Psychographics are critical for any business because they allow you to build a profitable, revenue-generating customer base as opposed to a "shoot-from-the-hip" approach, which might get you nothing at all.
Obtaining Client Data
Collecting this important information can only be done through asking the right questions of your clients. Some of this data will be pulled from the intake forms that clients fill out as new members. But the smart wellness professional must have a good system for collecting information on new clients. This doesn't just mean handing out a bunch of forms with questions. Often, such forms get filed away, and no one ever looks at them again until it's time to clean out the file cabinet. Instead, you need to have a system for taking the data and entering it into a database (or spreadsheet) in a way that allows easy reference for correlation analyses. In short, correlation analyses explicate the client attributes, which can track trends and cross-reference data with the highest revenue-generating clients, creating a profile of the most desirable customer.
Data for these analyses can be obtained from basic guest courtesy forms, asking routine demographic information, referral inquiries, goal setting questionnaires and the PAR-Q. However, the most powerful tool is the online survey that can be emailed to your clients. These surveys should elicit specific information that allows the grouping of responses. For example, good questions to ask in a survey are ones that provide some insight as to where to find more clients and where to find good sources for referrals. However, these questions cannot be evaluated by themselves. How the survey is put together really dictates how useful the data that it yields. Make sure to ask questions that will produce responses that can be coded for categorization. Allowing for too many open-ended answers will create more guess-work. Spend some time tailoring the survey, and eventually, you will select the one that works for you and your objectives.
Utilizing the Data
Unless you know what to do with this collected information, the data is useless. The temptation will be to just do a cursory glance for some quick, easy-to-get-at facts. But you have to avoid this temptation. The most effective way to handle the data is to convert it into a spreadsheet that will allow you to analyze and understand it. If you are not good with spreadsheets, find someone who is. Any time spent with the data is going to be time worth spending; however, the more sophisticated the analysis, the more powerful the data can become.
For example, as a new entrepreneur, you decide not to invest in the time in doing a little research on your customer, but instead, you decide to rely on your intuition. Your intuition leads you to on-air advertising as the way to go. However, the truth is that none of your clients have ever come to the facility from this source. But despite this fact, you still spend money on "on-air" spots instead of being smarter with your resources. Moreover, suppose that data shows that your clients come to the center from another source, completely uninfluenced by the ads that are run on air. What if the only marketing tools needed were attending certain networking events, placing flyers in a certain salon or using wording and imagery in your ads that speak specifically to the client who would benefit from your services the most? The lesson here is spend less, and attract more clients that spend even more money than the ones you could have gotten on air.
Marketing is Everything.
The bottom line is that when it comes to being successful, marketing is everything. However, marketing is more than just a creative ad campaign. What makes the campaign work is the amount of researching into what the customer will respond to. Without knowing certain critical information about your customer, the chances for success are merely just that, a chance. But when you really know about the customer, you are controlling much more of the fate of the wellness center. Truly educating yourself on the customer can only come from a customer data collection and analysis approach. As you can see, running a successful wellness center day-to-day can be made up of much more than what meets the eye. SYSTEMs allow us to multi-task and impact the bottom line positively. Secondly, strategic marketing helps to develop effective systems for building a profitable clientele. Together, these principles should begin to lay the foundation for how the wellness center can thrive. Avoid a situation where you find yourself in constant reaction to the elements that are thrown at you. Strategize your daily operations thinking ahead of the game. If you are not prepared, it will only be a matter of time before you find yourself in a situation that you were not prepared for. Do not let this happen to you. SYSTEMs and strategic marketing are good places to starts to avoid this pitfall and build your center beyond what your mind thought was possible.
Look for the eighth installment of our 9-part Wellness Center Development series in the October issue, covering orientating members into the center.
Samuel Y. Botts, Jr. is the founder of VIGORworks, LLC. For more information, email him at email@example.com.