How BODYTEC Has Opened 38 Studios In Under 8 Years
In 2011, Boris Leyck took an unknown concept and built a successful national franchise from it. These are his lessons in growth.
Player: Boris Leyck
Having worked for most of his life in the European soccer industry, Boris Leyck moved from Germany to South Africa in 2007 to work on the lead-up to the Soccer World Cup 2010.
It was during a business trip to Germany in early 2010 that Boris experienced EMS training, which, inspired by the innovative technology of Miha-Bodytec, changed his career path.
Instead of moving to Brazil to prepare for the next World Cup, Boris made South Africa his home and launched the first ever EMS studio in the country, in Cape Town City Bowl in March 2011.
BODYTEC offers time-efficient (20 minutes a week) training using electro muscle stimulation (EMS). The technology has been used for years in sports rehabilitation and professional sports, and Boris believed that it was the ideal fitness solution for time-poor corporate executive, business owners or busy moms.
The aim was always to franchise the model and after opening a second company-owned studio in December 2011, the franchise concept was launched in 2012. Currently, BODYTEC has 38 studios across the country with six more studios to be opened this year.
Q. How did you bootstrap a business that required an upfront investment since it wasn't services-based?
I was fortunate to have savings that I could start the business with. Obtaining a business loan was (and still is) extremely complicated and expensive in South Africa.
I kept everything lean though, and the business grew from strength to strength. The experience taught me to stay focused and do everything (really: everything) myself as I couldn't afford to hire too many people at first, and it also taught me that sleepless nights are part of being entrepreneur.
Q. What was the biggest lesson you learnt during your start-up journey, and how did it affect your business trajectory?
The biggest lesson learnt during my start-up phase was that there is a lot of goodwill from people towards start-up entrepreneurs, and you should never be too shy or too proud to ask for help.
I asked for advice from fellow, more experienced entrepreneurs and for help ("please spread the word about my business') from clients, and it felt that I had a whole team out there who really wanted me to succeed.
That level of support not only gives you a lot of energy, but it makes the long working days you have to put in at the beginning totally worth it.
There's nothing as exciting as a business in its start-up phase. This phase affected the rest of the journey as well, as I really understood that I can't (and don't) have all the answers, so bouncing ideas off others is crucial, all the time.
Q. What was your biggest lesson once the company was more mature?
There were two: You can't sit back and relax once you start experiencing success and you have to surround yourself with people who tell you what to do and not the other way around.
It's fundamentally important to work with people who are experts in their own fields and who drive certain aspects of your business to a level you could never achieve yourself. The trick is to get to a point where you work on your business, not in your business.
Q. In your experience, why do so many businesses fail operationally, and how can this be avoided?
When you start a business, it's crucial to understand basic financials. Write your own business plan, including a financial plan (even if you need assistance, make sure you do the work) and understand how many products/services you need to sell in order to break even.
Second businesses only work when they're owner-driven so drive your business. Be present and be involved – that is the only way. No other person can run your business more effectively than you.
Related: 5 Ways to For Your Startup to Thrive
When I set up my second studio 7km from my first studio (where my office is as well) the growth wasn't as strong or fast as my first studio's growth had been. I blamed the area and what I believed was a more difficult market, until I realized it was me. I was the problem.
I did not spend nearly as many hours in my second studio as I did in the first, and the results clearly indicated that I wasn't in touch with what was going on in that business.
The problem was that I didn't have more hours in a day. By selling shares in that second studio to one of my employees, we were able to turn it around, and today it's the most successful studio in Cape Town.
Q. How did you determine who your target market was, and how have you reached them?
I had no idea who our target market was going to be, since EMS training didn't exist in South Africa when I started my business. I needed to test my market with my first studio, which meant capturing client data was essential.
I invested time into the right system, and ensured we knew exactly who every client who walked through the door was.
We also asked them the single most important question that has led to our growth: How did you hear about BODYTEC? That information has been invaluable, because it told us who was talking about us and where those conversations were taking place.
We still use those statistics month on month in our marketing strategy, as we've tracked which marketing initiatives have worked and which ones haven't.
Related: 5 Ways to Succeed As A Startup