Recently we chatted with Michelle Steed about her transition from school teacher for 25  years to the owner of an Xtend Barre Studio franchise in Huntsville, Alabama.

Check out her advice for other new business owners, and how Perkville is helping her stay ahead of the competition.

Michelle Steed

How did you get started in this business?

I retired from 25 years of teaching at elementary and middle school, so Xtend Barre is my second adventure.

I was introduced to the franchise by a friend, and fell in love with the classes because of the variety of programming. I noticed no businesses locally or in the neighboring states such as Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee offered anything like Xtend Barre and so I was inspired to open my own Xtend Barre stu

How long ago did you get started?

The studio is fairly new. I retired from school teaching in August 2016, and we opened in January 2017.

How’s the business been going so far?

The business is growing. We’re running a challenge in August and September that is bringing people into the studio. Customers attend 40 classes in 60 days and new clients can purchase unlimited classes for $99 during each month. Right now we have about 70 people signed up for the challenge. We noticed once participants learned we offer a variety of classes, in addition to barre, they stay with us.

What’s your end goal with this second adventure?

My goal is to get Xtend Barre Huntsville well-established, and then potentially grow into other locations. It would be great to take Xtend Barre to a bigger city such as Birmingham, Alabama, or college campuses in order to offer students a new option for exercising.

What type of marketing strategies have you used so far?

We advertise in local magazines and we’re active on Facebook and Instagram. One of my instructors does an amazing job keeping up our social media presence.

Additionally, we engage in community outreach as much as possible. For example, I have an instructor that teaches free classes regularly at the Boys and Girls Club. We attend health fairs to educate the public about the benefits of barre. We have an upcoming event on Move-In Day at the local college campus, University of Alabama-Huntsville.

What do you think has been the most successful out of all of those strategies?

Social media.

The ability for clients to tag each other, post pictures of themselves at the studio, and rate or comment on Xtend Barre has enabled us to reach a wide range of people. We also get new business from referrals. Our clients are keen on bringing their friends into the studio.

What other technology do you use to run the business?

Other than MINDBODY, we use Perkville, and our clients really love it!

Customers look forward to coming in to earn or spend their points.

On the business side, I like how the Perkville integration with MINDBODY makes it easy for my clients to join the rewards program, and track their points through our MINDBODY app.

How would you say Perkville has impacted your business?

80% of active clients are a part of the Perkville rewards program. We’ve seen the following from them:

  • More spending on retail because clients earn a point for every dollar they spend.
  • An increase in people attending class during less busy hours thanks to the time bonus. We reward extra points to customers who come in during certain hours.
  • Clients coming in more frequently thanks to the frequency bonus. We reward extra points to customers who attend class at least four times per week.

What do you think has caused such a high % of your clients to participate in the rewards Program?

I attribute the success of the program to us being new in town and offering something different. We have competitors, but they don’t have a rewards program. With Perkville, I think Xtend Barre customers feel like they’re getting something back. They feel compelled to work hard because of the rewards they can earn.

What Perkville feature do you like the most?

I like the ease of the program. It’s very easy for our members to sign up, and redeem their points. I also like having the ability to customize the program to best fit our needs.

What’s been the most popular reward at your studio?

The 25% off one piece of apparel perk is popular among clients.  We also have people saving up their points for a free month after their contract ends. The one month unlimited perk has been a successful aspirational reward.

What have you learned in the last six months? Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting a business?

It’s important to build your brand. You will need to get your name out there since no one will know about you in the beginning. Xtend Barre is a fantastic franchise in that regards. Corporate really helps with marketing.

I also recommend making sure your clients feel welcomed. We welcome men and women to our studio, and aim to make them feel comfortable, and a part of our family. We also like to have fun here. Clients feel like Xtend Barre is their own little workout community.