10 Jan Episode #308: Hensley Ellefritz, Hensley Ellefritz Fitness Consulting, Owner& Founder
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on halo talks NYC on location with native consultant from Dallas, Texas Hensley. She is a guru in the boutique space and we are going to learn what the challenges are and how she’s helping people succeed and thrive in this new normal. So welcome to the show. Thanks. I’m excited to be here. Awesome. So one, you give your background, you’ve worked with some big brands you’ve, you know, built some strong companies and sales teams. And then sounds like you’ve dedicated yourself to helping the independence shine in roar. Yeah, exactly.
Hensley Ellefritz: So I, I was one of those unique people that kind of knew what I wanted to do basically out of the womb. I knew I wanted to be in fit and was a competitive athlete. And then went to school for sport management and applied physiology here at SMU. And through this found Equinox, I started at the front desk. I think I, I, candidly I think I lied. I know I lied and, and said I was 18 and I was 17 <laugh>. Cuz I was just hungry to, to get in the industry. This is right before boutique fitness started waking up mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so at the time Equinox was really the pinnacle of luxury, high quality group fitness mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I was with them for seven years. I was one of their top sales people, membership sales people, and then account managers and then was recruited by pure bar at the time in 20 15, 20 16 to then build out their sales programming.
Hensley Ellefritz: And that was my first foray into fitness franchising and boutique fitness, and really witnessing that boutique fitness owners by and large were passionate about what they did, but didn’t necessarily have the business acumen to scale their businesses or remove themselves as owner operators. So I, I then moved to club Pilates as their national sales director at came on at location one 20. And then when I left, we were a little under 700. Wow. Yeah, so the, the great thing about being there was, you know, seeing club Pilates become exponential and then exponential really using club Pilates as the mother and template for building out the sales infrastructure for all of their other brands. So mm-hmm, <affirmative> pure bar cycle bar rowhouse so on and so forth. And then over COVID 19, I think a lot of us had revelations, but as I was steering, you know, 700 studios through how to make, make it out alive, but continue to drive revenue through studio closure, mm-hmm, <affirmative> began to witness independent competitors just dropping like flies.
Hensley Ellefritz: So saw individual studio owners kind of throw stuff at the wall and see what stuck. And I knew I had the information and the wherewithal to who help them come out of this, come outta this alive mm-hmm <affirmative> and continue, you know, thriving. And so I left exponential in the end of last October, it was always my goal to just work individually with studio owners. I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I never wanted to start a business and it’s taken off. So we’re now a team of seven. We worked with over a hundred studios and we really specialize in not just helping you sell your, your product, right? Cause every studio owner thinks we have the best workout and we have the best community. And it’s like, well that that’s not going to make me hand over my credit card and allow you to charge 250 bucks. So really helping you determine what problem you are solving with your clientele. And then building a coinciding sales and marketing infrastructure that supports that and a hiring and staffing model that allows you to wear the hats that you want to own as a business owner. Instead of every hat, which is the typical for a, a duty
Pete Moore: Owner. Sure. So, you know, if, if we rewind and go back to Equinox, what are some of the foundational building blocks that you learned there? Obviously one of the premier yeah. Companies in the space, I wouldn’t say go, if you want to go to a high end club, like it’s not a hard sell for Equinox to right. You know, get your credit card. But at the same time, there’s probably, you know, processes and like psychology. And so give us a little insight into what you’ve learned over the years and, and, you know, what’s kind of like transformed you into, into how you think. Totally.
Hensley Ellefritz: I, I should mention that I was passionate about fitness, but I didn’t know, you know, at 17 that I was going to be in sales and I wanted to get into management and you know, Equinox said, you have to start selling memberships first and I didn’t want to do that. Did it kind of, you know, whatever and ended up obviously being really good at it, but through this witness that any successful fitness business and I would go so far as to say any successful business in general operates as a sales-driven business with a conceptual overlay. So Equinox is a sales-driven business with a marketing support, right? Marketing speed sales. And then it’s the product that happens to be selling as fitness, right? That’s the overlay, but it’s not a fitness business with a sales component. And so from the very beginning, understanding who was our target client, how are you capturing their emotions so that it didn’t matter if you were charging a hundred dollars or $400, you add them in the Palm of your hand, the rest of it was really just, you know, extra credit. Once you
Pete Moore: Walk through the, how much with Equinox, and if you go back to, to when you were there, they probably had a lot of those really funky ads that were a little bit trendy and like, it may just stop yeah. And figure out like, okay, what’s going on in this pictorial that they’ve put together or, you know, it’s Equinox, it’s life. It’s, you know, it’s not fitness. Right. So how did you kind of how was that embraced by everyone? And did everyone buy into that? Or did some people say like, Hey, this is like, where are we going with this? Yeah. Or is this too far? Or is it like shockingly you know, poignant to the point where okay, like this, this is working like yeah. But it, but it doesn’t seem like it, it would for a long period of time, but it did. Yeah. Yeah. So
Hensley Ellefritz: Talk to me, talk us about that. Yeah. You know, I think fitness has gone through this evolution, especially like COVID has, has expedited it, but you know, mental health and becoming all-inclusive and it’s for how you feel instead of how you look, but that’s not where fitness was even 10 years ago. And so Equinox really, I don’t want to say exploited that, but it was highly sexualized and I don’t even think their intent was to get you to resonate with that. Right. It was enough to peak your interest. So you’re like, what is this thing all about? Let me at least try it out. And that’s, that’s what any good fitness studio does now, right. Is you can’t explain what you do and how, how you do it in your experience on a piece of paper, but you can get the consumer interested enough to just check you out. And then from there, that’s when the real sales process happens. And I think Equinox did just that, right? Like it’s not fitness it’s life. And there was someone like jumping over a fence or, you know, somebody
Pete Moore: Sitting half naked in like a, like a velvet oversized chair, something wearing like a crown. I don’t know. I filled those images imprinted in my Dropbox brain. For some reason, I, I don’t even know what it was, but it shocked me at the time. And I was like, okay, I guess it’s working. You know, you sell memberships that at that price and that volume. So when you take a look at Equinox and you say, all right, these are, this is a way to, to capture someone’s attention. Yep. Right. They never, at least in my history, I’ve never seen an ad for Equinox with a dollar price on it. Correct. And restoration hardware. If you go into that store, they don’t have a price on anything because you want, they want you to go into a room and say like, feel like you live there, like this isn’t, this isn’t a shopping experience.
Pete Moore: This is a, this is like a, a lifestyle decision. Yeah. Right. They say I’m a, I’m a, I’m a love style company. Like, you got to love me and I’ll love you. And I will provide these, these awesome, you know upholstery. Yeah. And, and tapestries and everything else. So how do you think, how did that kind of change or when you go into like pure bar and we were an investor, an extend bar for a period of time, we’ve got some others. And it was always about like, what do we sell on the membership at? What’s the price point? And, and you sound, what you’ve touched on before was I’m going to qualifying what somebody needs for me. Yep. And then I’ll, then let’s talk about what that’s worth to, of them. And then what my, my price is. So talk about how you’re able to kind of hold the line on that and do that with confidence. Cause a lot of operators in the space are just like, look, let’s sell price. Cuz it’s like the easiest thing for me to figure out how to do. Yeah.
Hensley Ellefritz: It, I think it’s, it’s learning to sell the intangible. So it’s learning, you know, what makes Pete tick, what’s his specific prerogative for walking through the door and that’s through asking you questions, it’s a time consuming process. Right. But then once I have captured that specific emotion, there’s no dollar sign attached to that. Right. Right. Cause if I can promise you confidence, if I can promise you security, if I can promise you lack of pain. And then I say, how much would you pay for that $250? Sounds like nothing. Right. Exactly.