When Lara Harrington and Angela Corrieri-Johnson founded Boutique Fitness in 2011 people told her it would fail. More than five years later, the studio is still going strong and now includes three busy locations.
We spoke with Lara about how she successfully grew her business.
Lara Harrington (above).
How did you get started?
My background is in personal training, which I’ve been doing since 2003. Before Boutique Fitness, I was the lead trainer and manager at a franchised personal training studio in Barrington, Rhode Island for six years. I wanted to implement ideas, but was restricted by the corporate office.
After some encouragement from my husband, I partnered with a good friend, Angela, and we founded Boutique Fitness in 2011. Since then I’ve had more control over my work life, and can lead a business in a direction I want it to go.
Boutique Fitness grew from one to three locations. Can you speak more to that?
The business has grown a lot!
We’ve been able to expand our locations or add new locations almost every year we’ve been open- about 5 ½ years. We opened in 2012, and the following year expanded our New Bedford location to provide separate rooms for private and group training. Our Mattapoisett location opened in 2015 and the Westport location opened in 2016..
Our staff has grown as well. We started with just Angela and I, hired two more people the second year, and now have 16 employees!
What are your long-term goals for the Boutique Fitness?
Our primary goal is to stay true to the brand identity. Boutique Fitness is an intimate brand wherein our clients become a part of our family. We want to keep that up while continuing to offer quality service.
How were able to maintain an intimate brand as you grew?
Honestly, it’s all in the hiring. We’ve been strategic about who does what at the business. We have a part-time business manager who handles back-office tasks such as accounting and insurance. This frees up my time to train clients, which I love to do, and for Angela to train our coaches to make sure they keep our brand promise with our clients.
Also, Angela and I never ask staff to do what we wouldn’t do or haven’t done a million times. Our crew knows we’re in the trenches with them. This helps to create a positive work environment for everyone.
What marketing strategies have been successful for your business?
Facebook and Instagram. Social media drives word-of-mouth and online referrals at Boutique Fitness. Perkville has been a part of that effort because our clients love to post about us on Facebook, and refer their friends online.
We use Instagram to post behind-the-scenes snapshots at the business, and create videos on YouTube to share on Facebook, such as how to increase your flexibility.
Boutique Fitness also gets attention organically through the community work Angela and I are involved in. We set aside a philanthropic fund for organizations that support women and children such as the YWCA and Children’s Advocacy Center. I also volunteer for nonprofit entrepreneurship programs.
What software do you recommend?
I’ve been using MINDBODY for 10 years and recommend it as a management system.
I’d also recommend Perkville.
The Perkville loyalty program has become a big part of our company culture. Our clients love earning points, and spreading the word about us through the platform.
Perkville has been a great way for us to increase loyalty, and add value to our services without adjusting prices. We used Perkville to grow our second location Mattapoisett. When it opened, we initially had dead time at the location, and so we offered double points to fill those times. Clients who would normally work out during those times at our busy location would go to Mattapoisett for the extra points. And many learned to love Mattapoisett, and now use both locations.