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TeamUp Interviews: Andi Ariseanu founder of Active Cherry

Pole and aerial fitness studio based in the South of England.

Andi Ariseanu is the founder and owner of ActiveCherry based in the South of England. I first spoke with Andi after she was recommended to TeamUp by another business owner. She has grown her business into one of the leading pole studios in the country.

Pole and aerial fitness is one of the fastest-growing segments of the market. People are attracted to the excitement of something different, the unique atmosphere, and the lively community.

Why do customers love the mix of performance and fitness that pole & aerial offers? How does marketing compare to a traditional gym?

Andi Ariseanu founder of Active Cherry

Photo Credit: Andi Ariseanu founder of Active Cherry

How did you get started, how has the business progressed?

Since the very beginning, I’ve added more classes, but not in the last two years really. We’ve been pretty much the same. We’ve had a few changes to the timetable, but nothing major. A change of schedule rather than a new class.

In the industry, I’m known for performing on aerial equipment that’s not normal. I’ve got a spiral, a prism, crescent moon — lots of different shapes. Basically the same as aerial, but I just give it a slightly different edge. I have an engineer that makes me loads of crazy equipment.

We are so varied. I think, as well, it depends what time of year it is as to who we get in. Obviously, in the September or October time, we get loads of students. That kind of filters out, by January we are kind of getting the moms, slightly older, that kind of age range of mainly women. We don’t get a lot of guys, unfortunately. I’d like to be able to get more guys in, but it’s just not the done thing, really, for lots of guys.

I have tried to put on men’s only classes before, in the hope that it would attract more men because it’s only men going. It doesn’t really work. It tends to be the girls trying to get their boyfriends to do it and they are not interested in it. It doesn’t really work.

image of andi ariseanu with a quote

Who are your clients? What do they get out of your classes?

40% of our customers are ex-gymnasts or ballet dancers. Not necessarily to professional standards, but have done it, when they were kids growing up all the traditional dance forms. They can’t find anything to do as an adult but still want to be able to do something, so they do pole. I think that’s the big percentage. I think the biggest audience we have is moms, single moms or just new moms or just moms.

We market things slightly differently. I tend to market as bringing out your inner child. Being able to come around and swing around on stuff and hang upside down, as opposed to doing too much dance.

Personally, I’m a dancer, I’m a performer, that’s what I love, but we don’t tend to really get that many people that feel the same. They are more about being able to have fun, giggle in classes, make friends and throw themselves around basically while still being able to be safe. It’s basically like an adult playground for them.

Not that many people want to dance. Whenever I’ve tried to get people to try and dance they’re not really interested. If I give them something that is really exhilarating, some combo to do that involves them swinging or really fast spinning or something like that, then they love it.

Have you had any big challenges in your business that you’ve had to overcome?

Probably my biggest challenge has been my staff. It’s the good and the bad. I’ve had a lot of staff changes. I’ve had a lot of staff do me over. I’ve given out a lot of training and been screwed over in return a few times, which in turn has obviously challenged me.

The team that I’ve got now are amazing. I’m really happy that I went through those challenges because it taught me how to manage staff in a way that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

I think just getting the money in and keeping it consistent. Because my biggest thing has been that when we’re busy it’s great, but it doesn’t stay that way. Obviously, there are lots of factors that affect that, season, payday, a gym is offering certain offers at different times of the year. My biggest competition is the gym. I can’t compete with their pricing and our product is worth way more than theirs.

As much as obviously, the gyms don’t offer the classes that we offer, at the same time, some people don’t really care because it’s that popular now. It’s not actually that different to normal gym classes anymore if you know what I mean. People kind of do put pole and aerial in the same bundle as the spin classes and the Zumba, and whatnot, because they don’t know any different now. It has become that acceptable, that actually it’s kind of damaged it a bit.

Our business model is completely different, so it’s hard to compete on financials. Gyms thrive and profit off the fact that people will only go once or twice. They don’t staff their gyms with the amounts of members they have. They don’t have enough classes or enough equipment for the number of members that they have. They just literally live off the fact that people won’t go.

How do you market? What are your best channels?

In six years, the best form of advertising is on Facebook. I’ve done it all. I go to local events, I take a pole out, I take a-frame out and do aerial at local events and festivals. I advertise in local newspapers, things like the Friday ads. All the free advertising websites, I’m listed on every free advertising website that exists. Mainly just so I can get a good Google ad imprint for my website.

For all of it, the best form of advertising is Facebook and word of mouth. There’ll always be people that come, will post their pictures on their Facebook profiles and then their friends will check out our page and be like, “Whoa,” and they’ll be interested. It’s always like that.

Obviously having Teamup the last couple of years, it’s been amazing to be able to see the conversions of that. Because obviously people will sign up and make themselves an account so that they are checking out the prices and the timetable, which I find really useful.

I’m really glad that I embedded the timetable into the website instead of keeping the old timetable that was there. Because I couldn’t tell who was viewing it. Whereas now I can because they sign in so they can see it, which is quite good.

I’ve got obviously their contact details. I can go on there and then talk to them and say, “Hey I see that you’ve signed up, let’s talk about your options. Whereas, I wouldn’t have been able to do that before.

image of Andri Ariseanu with a quote

How did you first hear about Teamup?

I actually went to a master class up at someone else’s studio a few years back. She had Teamup, but I had to use it book into the master class. Then when I got to her I was like she was signing people in with the register and I was like, “That’s amazing. I need this in my studio.”

She gave me a brief rundown of what it was about. I think she is an amazing ambassador for you guys by the way. Because I think she’s made everyone in the industry signup to Teamup.

It took me a while to bite the bullet.

How was the initial setup for you?

I think that the setup period is freaking scary for a lot of people. It took me about a month to really get it going. I’m really glad that I choose to do it over Christmas when we were shut.

Obviously now if I were to do that now for another business, for example, it would be really quick and easy because I know how to do it. In the beginning, having no experience of using the system, it’s quite scary and daunting.

The setup is the scariest and hardest part, but once it’s done, you will be so, so grateful that you did it.1

I’m really glad that I went through the effort of sitting down and putting everyone single last little bit of information in there. That when it was functional and was up and running it saves me so much in the long run.

What would you say to someone considering TeamUp for their business?

I think most people are money-driven aren’t they? If you say to them, “Listen, at the moment how long do you spend chasing people for payments that don’t show up to your classes? How much money do you lose from people not showing up to your classes? Well, that’s not going to happen anymore if you have this setting on Teamup. That eliminates it for you. You can set up what your cancellation period is and tough luck if they don’t come. You have still got that money in your pocket.”

Also, the increased amount of revenue you can get because people give you their details when they are checking you out or even if they just come for one class you’ve got those details there. There are all those functions on Teamup where you can email people automatically after they’ve had their first class for example.

What do you like most about Teamup?

I like being able to control who is my classes. It’s really important especially with the safety features, obviously these days, that we know who is coming to our classes. We can check up on their health questions and stuff before they take part in the class to make sure that they should just be exercising and whatnot.

Also that we have the right amount of instructors per class. For example, if I have a class that’s got 15 people booked on and they’ve gone past that 48 hour duration period, I’ll know I need 4 instructors for that class.

Its saves me money from staff as well because I’m not putting on four members of staff and only three people are going to show up. It doesn’t matter if 3 people show up because I’ve got 15 people with money, so I can pay my instructors regardless.

I am a bit of a control freak. The activity feed on Teamup is way more interesting than the one on Facebook. The activity feed on Teamup is linked to my bank account.

It’s been that way since the very first moment. Since that Christmas that I sat down and started getting people to input their information, the existing students. I just sat there watching the activity feed like, this is amazing. I could see what people are doing. I could see that at 3 o’clock in the morning, they booked classes, what are they doing? What are they up to?

What would you say to anyone who is on the fence about Teamup?

Just do it. Just do it. I say to people all the time, yes it’s scary in the beginning, but just do it. The customer service is great. We can always get a hold of one of you guys to help us with any problems that we have. They always get resolved very quickly.

As much as it is scary in the beginning and it is going to take some time to put stuff into place. Long term, I wouldn’t be without it.

There are so many things that you can achieve with it. You can tailor it completely for your own needs. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. It makes you look more professional as a business as well, having it online. Having a cancellation policy makes you professional, even just that. Just one little function makes you have that edge over other people.

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