How did payasUgym increase sales?
In 2012, we focused heavily on expanding the gym portfolio. We had people asking for more gyms across the country so we went from 300 gyms at the start of 2012 to more than 1,000 at the end of the year.
We've seen a surge in customer conversion now we've got the product nationwide. It's been a fantastic start to this year. Growth is easier because our product is well talked about. It's snowballed, gyms have told other gyms and we've grown rapidly from there. We've got almost 20% of the gyms in the UK now.
What have you learnt from taking a business nationwide?
First of all, test your business in a town or city before going nationwide. Be careful about where you expand to, because there are very different drivers across the country.
Make sure it's sensible to expand. Before you go, make sure the business should be there and the demographic for you is there. Your product might need to be tailored by city, so test it first in new areas.
What mistakes did you make when launching payasUgym?
We constantly learned because we constantly made mistakes. We were a start up business and a brand new concept so we couldn't get it right all the time. The name of the game is damage limitation when you get it wrong and profit maximisation when you get it right.
We started off making a couple of big mistakes in the early days. We pushed a radio campaign far too early when we didn't have enough brand awareness or gyms. The overall ROI on that was terrible. We realised we had to build up the site and the brand.
What's your best start-up tip?
People starting a business should know it's going to take longer than you think. It's going to take more financial resource and stress than you think as well. Make sure you're in a position to have two years without a wage before you start. If we weren't able to survive two years, we would have folded with a good business because we ran out of money.
While you were developing your service, did you fear someone would push the idea ahead quicker than you could?
No, we got such a head start. We took time to understand how to sell the product so it wasn't a question of coming in and doing it quickly. It's a question of growing trust and a reputation, which takes time.
We're more scared about the concept being taken up in other countries. We've started to see copycats popping up around the world. There's one in Brazil and we've seen other ones try and fail.
We're investigating other countries for growth. We know there are plenty of places out there with similar requirements that PayasUgym could fill so we want to grow the business as rapidly as possible.
How are payasUgym going to achieve further growth?
So far, we've really focused on our portfolio of gyms, but the plan for growth is now on the customer side. We haven't done any big customer marketing push and at the moment we're putting our plan together for that.
We got to where we are through natural growth and digital marketing. Now we're happy with our product portfolio, we're going to start testing the marketing side with some new expertise.
How do you market payasUgym?
We try to market with a message to get to those 15 million people who have walked away from gym memberships and try to get them back. It's all about the messaging and demographic. We're not going after gym bunnies that go to the gym ten times a week, because our product is not for them.
A campaign we did that targeted getting back into the gym and positioned us really well with people whose lives are too hectic to regularly go to the gym. It worked for us.