What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I was fortunate to have a diverse experience before opening up Exolt. I grew up with parents that owned and ran a small business so I saw the hard work and struggles that went into running a small business but I also saw the benefits and freedom it provided.
I grew up training and competing in gymnastics at an elite level, which is where my passion for health and fitness came from. I worked as a gymnastics coach from a very young age, then in my parents business for 10 years whilst I completed my bachelor degrees in Business and Psychology. I worked in admin, bookkeeping, logistics, sales, customer service and marketing during my time there and still to this day do bits and pieces for the business.
I moved into a leadership development consultancy after my psychology degree and that is where I discovered how rare it is for people to have the breadth of experience I have had.
I was shown EMS technology by someone in the fitness industry and to start with it was just a new product like the thousands of new products I have seen. However I then began to use it myself regularly and began researching it more and discovered how beneficial it was and how for some reason barely anyone in Australia was using it. Whilst in Europe on holiday I took some time to go meet with the inventors of the technology and see how it was being used in Europe. I was so excited by it all and saw the opportunity gap in Australia that could be filled. The whole plane ride home I began running financial models and writing up a business plan and by the time I landed I knew I was about to pursue a very different and exciting career path.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The business planning, researching and funding process took me over 6 months before I felt ready to pull the trigger so to speak.
Having worked in project management I mapped everything out and aligned up the processes of getting a lease, fitting out the studio, hiring staff, training staff, launching marketing and building the systems to manage it all. All the while trying to keep costs low.
Everything was all lined up and on track and the business marketing launched and we opened the doors in Feb 2020. Then COVID had the doors shut a mere 3 weeks later. So from there on it was pivot after pivot until we essentially re launched in July 2020.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Attracting clients has been difficult – people are not looking for EMS. By taking a very local approach and spreading brand awareness with physical visibility (I purposefully leased a prominent street front), social and search ads, client word of mouth and becoming a member of every local facebook group imaginable.
Customer retention was tricky at the beginning. We would try to lock people in for 12 weeks and then would lose them. Since opening we have moved to no lock in periods, and extensively invested in technology that provides clients with support 24/7 on all things health and wellness. Since making the changes our retention rates have become something I am really proud of.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our numbers week on week are steadily rising and our systems have made it possible to keep providing the same level of support to each client as those numbers grow.
In the immediate future we look to invest further into technology to enhance our systems and expand to additional locations across Australia and New Zealand.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learnt that it is really important to keep my view of the services we offer and the way in which we offer them completely fluid. I have changed the service offering and the pricing to adapt it to what clients want until we reached the point where we never get questioned about price, what’s included and how it is delivered.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We have a suite of programs we use to automate and integrate processes throughout the business. With Mindbody, Zapier, Active Campaign and Quickbooks the operations, marketing and admin of the business is largely automated.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
TBH I rarely find books and podcasts as good sources for ideas and motivation. When I have a question I love to delve deep into it through research papers, blogs, chat boards and facebook groups. But if I had to pick an influential book I would go with:
Flipping Out: Why Every Business Should Be Franchise Ready, D Downer.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t wait for your product or service to be ‘perfect’! Launch it at a bare minimum and then enhance it repeatedly with market feedback.