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Case Study : Small Business

Fitness studio shapes up for franchising

Win New Customers, Streamline Operations

Fitness studio class

nooma Yoga Studio

Before Nicole Hopkins and Casey Cox went into business together, they were workout pals, bonding while taking classes at a local gym. The two friends had both dealt with stresses and traumas, and found exercise to be an important outlet for them. Over time, they practiced and learned specific movements that pushed them in different ways. This began a dream of a studio with a mission that blended mind, body and spirit with an amazing experience. In 2017, they opened nooma Yoga Studio. Their mission: to be a place where people can not only work out, but also connect with one another and themselves.

“Most people come because they hear about our effective and fun workouts, “ Cox says. “They find this is true but quickly discover that their focus turns to the connection they find to themselves and others. That’s where the change comes. The type of change that they are able to take outside the studio.” 

Laying the groundwork to go bigger

What started off as a single studio in Searcy, Arkansas, has grown to encompass two more Arkansas locations — one in Rogers and another in Little Rock. With Hopkins and Cox leading the charge, nooma offers everything from hot yoga to barre to aerial yoga in their unique, branded classes. The success they’ve had has them looking toward franchising their business. But before they expand any further, they have two goals they need to achieve:

  • Improve the financial health and stability of all their locations

  • Improve their messaging and position the business for franchising

Financial and marketing obstacles block expansion plans

Hopkins and Cox both take care of many of the day-to-day operations of their business, write the choreography and lead classes. They also have 45 employees across the three locations they need to manage. To prevent themselves from becoming overwhelmed by all of these responsibilities— from training instructors to welcoming new members — things need to run as smoothly as possible.

Working out payroll

One process that wasn’t working for them was payroll. Hopkins and Cox were handling some of the payroll and accounting in-house while outsourcing some of it to accounting services. Frustrated with the results, they were ready for a change.

“We had gone through a couple of payroll services and things weren’t accurate, and the process was long,” Cox says.

“With growth, you have to start investing money into different systems in order to continue to grow and evolve,” Hopkins says. “You get to the point where you have to ask yourself two questions: Can you afford to put those systems in place, and can you afford not  to?”

Toning up nooma's marketing

When it came to nooma’s marketing, Hopkins and Cox needed to refine their online strategy. They had a website that was a great start to establishing the nooma brand, but it was ready for a revamp that would offer visitors a more compelling experience, provide more information about what members could expect from classes and increase nooma's discoverability on search engines like Google.

On top of that, the messaging on the existing website wasn’t as inclusive as they would have liked. Hopkins and Cox work hard to make sure everyone feels welcome in their studio, and they needed a website that reflected that.

As one of the six Searcy businesses selected to receive a marketing and operations makeover as part of Small Business Revolution, nooma would work with the team at Deluxe to strengthen the business's core, so the studio would be in good shape for its next phase.

Getting payroll and the website into fighting shape

Deluxe would primarily be working with nooma on two fronts — marketing and finance. Because payroll was one of Hopkins and Cox’s biggest headaches and spending time on it was taking them away from other areas of the business, it was important to address this issue right away.

Getting on track with payroll

Many small businesses start out handling payroll in-house. While doing this costs less than outsourcing, it is extremely time-consuming. Also, if a business doesn't have an accounting expert who is up to date on all of the latest tax regulations, it can be frustrating.  It can also end up costing a lot of money in penalties if a mistake gets made with payroll tax filings.

The nooma owners were partially outsourcing their payroll and open to completely outsourcing it, but they needed to find a service they could trust.

The Deluxe team set up Hopkins and Cox with Deluxe Payroll Services — an easy-to-implement solution that would take this major task off their plate. It would also ensure that their growing staff would be paid on time, that legal obligations would be fulfilled and that all of nooma's records would be secure.

“There are a lot of logistics that come with managing payroll in-house,” Hopkins says. “You have to have your work encrypted. As a business owner, you’re liable if someone hacks into your computer and steals information because you had all of their information on your own computer. So from a liability standpoint, it’s a lot nicer to have someone who shoulders that responsibility.”

Building a website — and a future

Hopkins, Cox and the Deluxe team agreed that they should position nooma as a place where members can have a unique workout for their mind, body and soul in a supportive environment. That idea would be a unifying thread throughout the website and shape the messaging. They would also use phrases like “All are welcome here” and “Classes for every schedule and skill level” to create that feeling of inclusivity. 

Additionally, because Hopkins and Cox are interested in franchising nooma down the road, they needed a website that would capture the attention of potential franchisees. They would not only have to put their best foot forward with this design, but they would also need a website that made them look like the fitness enterprise they aspired to be.

To help Hopkins and Cox accomplish this goal, the Deluxe design team focused on capturing the energy and spirit of nooma. The previous website was minimalist, featured a limited color palette and wasn’t as lively as it could be. The new website introduces brighter colors to allow for contrast and to visually represent the passion behind the nooma brand. It also features high-quality video of a class, showing prospective members what they can expect when they visit the studio.

The studio's original website had an overwhelming amount of content and pages. One of the goals of the Deluxe redesign was to streamline the layout and make it easier to drive visitors to the website’s primary call to action (CTA), which encouraged prospective members to learn more about the studio and the classes offered.

The website's secondary purpose would be to encourage prospects to come down to the studio for a free class. Streamlining the layout and simplifying the navigation would also improve the user experience — when visitors land on the homepage, they should not feel overwhelmed.

After reviewing the original website, researching local fitness studios and consulting with Hopkins and Cox on what elements they thought should be incorporated into the website, the Deluxe designers decided that the revamped website would need the following pages:

  • Homepage: Immediately immerses visitors into the nooma experience, and captures the energy, the community, and the notion of mind, body and spirit coming to life.

  • nooma Experience page: Offers additional information about the idea of an intentional workout and covers what members can expect.

  • Studios page: Provides essential location details and offers specifics on types of classes and class leaders.

  • Individual studio pages: Three separate pages that house information specific to each of the three locations, including schedules, classes and a list of leaders. Additionally, having a separate page for each location helps boost local search engine rankings for each studio.

  • Leader Profile pages: Shares information about each of nooma’s leaders and the areas of expertise.

  • Schedule page: Displays the current schedule of classes and enables visitors to sign up. 

  • Classes page: Describes all of the classes offered. Designed to help visitors quickly understand the different options available to them.

  • About Us page: Explains Hopkins and Cox’s mission and provides visitors with an in-depth look at the backgrounds of each of the two founders.

  • Services page: Shares information about nutrition, private sessions, parties and space rentals.

  • Contact page: Features contact information for nooma headquarters, a contact form and a place for franchise connections to be made. 

yoga studio Searcy, AR

Above: part of the new nooma homepage

the new nooma Experience webpage

Above: the new nooma Experience webpage

the new nooma Classes webpage

Above: the new nooma Classes webpage

nooma’s Other Services webpage

Above: nooma’s Other Services webpage

The new website captures the essence of nooma. "This is what nooma is," Hopkins says of the design. The updates also position the studio for future growth. 

A healthier business with a bright future

Now that these updates have been made, nooma is making great progress and the future of the business looks promising. Hopkins and Cox plan to open their first franchise by 2021. In the meantime, they are achieving the kinds of wins to set nooma up for this expansion.

More importantly, they're hitting goals in record time. “That's in our marketing, that's in our payroll, that's in processes, that's in our community and mission," Cox says. "Across the board, we've hit our goals and are having fun setting new ones.” 

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