This period will undoubtedly remain the most significant for generations to come. Sickness, death and global turmoil is now our daily norm. Disruption of human interaction and of our individual livelihoods is as much a part of our current set of troubled circumstances as the actual physical effect COVID-19 is having on human life.
For small business owners the disruption to an incredibly personal investment of passion and sacrifice in order to breath sustainable life into an entity that embodies everything that you are, is wounding but not fatal.
In order to survive any disruptive situation your business must be able to adapt and a business that cannot adapt will not survive. That line was delivered to me some years ago by my mentor and when guiding my business through choppy waters my approach to each situation has been underlined by that sound advice.
Turbo Studio falls under one of the first business categories that went into forced closure due to COVID-19 and although not a gymnasium in the general sense of the word, we are in fact classified for insurance and legal purposes as one.
On the day we closed I felt strengthened because I have survived foul business weather before and the knowledge that our survival ahead would be dependent on the same imaginative, resourceful and adaptive approach I had previously employed only served to reinforce my confidence.
Transitioning a successful working business model through forced external circumstances is frustrating, though hundreds of thousands of small business owners the world over are currently having to navigate their way through just that. It’s one thing taking a long and truthful look at why your business is faltering, but quite another to hear yourself saying ‘Well, we were going great guns but now I have to flip it around in order to survive’.
Much of our business success is owed to our face to face connection with clients through our indoor training facility, our coaching service, our one-day ride adventures and our charity events. All elements of this business involve direct human interaction. So how do you transition a business that relies on that direct and tangible client rapport to an environment where we can no longer look each other in the eye? Where the ability to read body language has been removed? How do you keep its heart beating?
So, to survive the road ahead, we are utilising the most obvious platforms available to our community that allow us to continue while still respecting current social distancing rules. The very same platforms that are currently being stampeded by the global cycling population due to restrictions on our outdoor social connections.
And so, Turbo Studio enters a new era where we now take our place within the world of virtual cycling.
By utilising various online platforms including Zwift, Perfpro and the like, we are not only retaining our existing community connection, we are ultimately creating an alternative environment that now welcomes clients that could otherwise potentially be lost to us forever.
These new clients may be solo trainers, home dwellers, parents on a tight morning school run, reside in another country, are late risers or simply new to cycling altogether because they have thus far been totally daunted by the group lycra thing. The scope for shifting our model across to a wider and even more successful landscape is undeniable.
Fortunately, and to the annoyance of my children (because they have no armoury to tease me with when it comes to potentially being left behind in the world of technology) I am confident when it comes to functioning within the digital sector. Outside of my own Coaching IP all of our delivery sparks off a digital origin and having always held a personal fascination for computer technology it didn’t take me long to grasp the intricacies as well as the non-intricacies of the online cycling world, though admittedly that learning curve is still in progress.
Our indoor group sessions account for a good chunk of our turnover and working out how to deliver these online in a format that is engaging while ultimately delivering the same outcome of improvement on the bike (as opposed to just creating a distracting video parlour sideshow to convince you that you’re riding outside) was paramount.
Equally paramount was working out how to do it while protecting our IP because unlike a regular workout class, our sessions rely upon our custom digital files that control the smart trainers and ultimately deliver the sessions that we have become known for. Working out the restrictions of the online platforms and their individual mechanisms that will deliver our workouts, has been the most time-consuming element required to make the successful shift.
Why not just spin a bunch of workouts online to keep clients happy and then pick up where we left off when it’s all over you ask? Launching our workouts into the virtual world without coaching guidance is out of the question for us. The reason behind our successful trajectory over this last decade is due to our coaching guidance, our educating our clients as to the merits and principles of training through the utilisation of power and ultimately how best to achieve sustainable power on the bike.
Time and time again we have seen cyclists fresh off their home trainer set-up make their way into our Studio convinced they are well versed in all things power and cycling because they spend hours pedalling with their online friends while watching their watts bounce. Time and time again we have had to pull them back to the start line and redefine the parameters of successful training through explanation and example. There is simply no replacement for professional knowledge, experience and wisdom and training unaccompanied online leaves you alone with your guesswork.
Now, I write this article with the knowledge that my loss of immediate revenue stream is something I will need to deal with for an unknown length of time, but I am counting on that being only short term. Anyone in business knows the success behind every story lay in the ownership of grit required to play the long game and while I have that in spades, what is ahead is uncharted waters and we don’t know how long it will be until we reach land.
Fortunately, I believe we will transition successfully, though I don’t believe we will succeed by replacing our existing model with an entirely new one. I believe we will succeed by fusing both models. By taking our natural ability to connect and maintain a long term rapport with each of our clients and combining it with the clever world of virtual cycling, I believe what will exist post COVID-19 is a business with even more services to offer than ever before and with the potential to span the world.