// Grow your business: grizzly personal training

by Heather Smith

Grow Your Business features fi tness professionals sharing their personal journeys of growing their business.Business consultant and accountant Heather Smith talks to Geoff Starling, founder of Grizzly Personal Training in Sydney.

CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I started Grizzly Personal Training in 2008 and it was a struggle at first. Getting the first 10 clients was the hardest part. I was doing some other part time work while I built up enough client hours to make personal training my sole source of income. Thankfully it did not take too long. I have a Bachelor of Business majoring in Human Resources (HR), and being a gym nut myself for 15 years, I went into it with business knowledge and first-hand experience.

IT IS A BIG DECISION FOR A SMALL BUSINESS TO TAKE ON ITS FIRST EMPLOYEE. WHAT MADE YOU THINK IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME?

I had reached the stage where I had more clients than I could personally train myself. This was partly a result of the popularity of the prime time training slots between 6am to 8am and between 6pm to 8pm. All my weekday evening slots were full, and from Monday to Saturday all the morning slots were taken up, and I was still receiving multiple requests from other people for training sessions during these times.

Instead of saying ‘Sorry I can’t’, I thought ‘Wow this is kind of exciting – I have got more work than I can do myself. I’m sure I can fi nd another PT who can put on a Grizzly shirt and train these prospective clients. I’ll do all the ground work and they can take the session and invoice me afterwards’. I took the first extra trainer on as a contractor rather than an employee because I was uncertain about how much work I was going to be able to provide her with. I also didn’t know her before I took her on, so I thought that with a contract I could see how she went, check on client feedback and if all was well, put her on as a regular employee with fixed hours per week.

WHO DID YOU SEEK ADVICE FROM ABOUT TAKING ON YOUR FIRST EMPLOYEE?

I have been a contractor as a trainer, and I have been a part time and full time employer, so I guess I knew a little bit myself. I didn’t ask anyone else specifi cally for help or information on how to set that up. I took her on initially to do between 5 and 10 hours per week, but then I ended up in hospital and out of commission for several weeks. In the down time I started getting everything set up properly and drawing up a contract for her, which I had not actually done at that stage.

WAS THE PROCESS EASIER OR HARDER THAN YOU EXPECTED?

I was not expecting it to be very difficult, and it wasn’t. My contracted trainer has come through shining, especially since she basically got a phone call from me saying ‘I am in the emergency ward of the hospital, I have surgery tomorrow, so I am going to be out of action, what are you doing for the next six weeks?’. This allowed my business to continue running while I was incapacitated.

HOW DID IT AFFECT YOUR CASHFLOW?

It was a little odd paying her first invoice. I had been used to collecting all the monies from my clients whom I train directly, and I had to get used to having someone else collecting cash from them. For the first few weeks, getting my head around the fact that I did not have direct control and knowledge of which clients had paid for which sessions was a little more frustrating than I had expected.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD THEN?

I’d say the one thing I know now that I didn’t before is that having my programs established as a specific (transferable) system versus notes in my training journals makes for a more consistent experience with clients, particularly if my contracted employee finds herself training my long term clients.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS?

Interview, interview, interview! Even if a prospective employee comes on a very high referral, you need to make sure that their training style is in line with what you provide to your clients. As soon as a contracted employee puts on my Grizzly shirt, she is representing my business, and it is critical that that representation is spot on.


 

Heather Smith
Heather is on a mission to improve the financial literacy of business through empowering business owners to produce accurate and meaningful management reports in a timely manner. She is a commerce graduate, an ambassador and fellow of the ACCA, a MYOB Certifi ed Consultant, a writer and keen advocate of technology and social media. For more information, visit www.aniseconsulting.com, e-mail info@aniseconsulting.com or tweet T:@ANISEConsulting


NETWORK MAGAZINE • AUTUMN 2010 • PP56-57