I am no business management expert, but I am pretty sure those who claim to be advise against moving a business repeatedly. I have moved my movement studio three times in the last four years. I envision a business coach shaking their head, scolding me for not seeing the potential of my own growth when selecting any of the last few studio homes.
The intention behind each move was to improve operations, attract new customers, cut costs, improve client retention, and offer more amenities. With each move, the studio grew. With each growth spurt, our available resources--equipment, training space, parking-- proved to be insufficient.
In retrospect, I failed in each case to predict the extent to which my business would grow, but also the nature of the growth. I projected an increase in class participants. Instead, class participation remained steady, but private training and education grew by 25% in the last year. The last two spaces I built out had an expanded class area, but no increase in private training space. Inevitably we were stacked on top of each other with private sessions during peak times soon after moving in.
With a clear picture of my needs and spreadsheets full of data, I concluded in early January I needed twice as much space as I currently occupied to continue serving my current client base and allow for 15% growth over 5 years. So I sent an email to my broker. It was a Thursday morning. In less than 24 hours she found me a beautiful 3600 sq. foot studio space located in the same complex we currently occupy. In less than two weeks we had negotiated a lease, and we begin our new tenancy March 1st.
Yesterday I Moved the Buffalo.
The buffalo sculpture has greeted visitors for the last five years. It was made by a friend of one of my instructors, and from the time I laid eyes on it I was in love. My affinity for buffalo go back to my childhood. "Buffalo" was my Dad's nickname for me, and it was his willingness to buy me my first studio reformer that allowed me to start my first Pilates studio 14 years ago. I also just admire buffalo.
Unlike their cattle cousins, buffalo do not stand butt-out to predators and storms. They face the harshness head on, choosing to see the threat and deal with it fully aware. I try, with great intention, to be a good Buffalo every day.
"Moving the Buffalo" marks the moment I invest my heart into a new space and project. The transportation of the sculpture takes a few extra hands, and I always seem to be surrounded by loving friends when the time is ripe. Yesterday, Lauryn Marino, my good friend and co-worker and I am walked the buffalo across the parking lot and installed him in our new waiting room. As the business transitions to the new home in the upcoming weeks, the buffalo sees our comings and goings. Head toward the door, protecting the work inside with a watchful eye on what is coming towards us.
I would like to think I am done moving, that I learned from my past lessons and utilized the experiences to grow into a place better than I would have found had I not taken the path of learning by doing. I like to think all of my experiences are part of the journey, and not a right/wrong box to be checked. Time will tell and teach, as it always does.
Welcome home, Buffalo. Adventures await.