Interview on Success: The 30 Minute Hit Richmond Story

Starting a business is a great leap of faith, but I believe is rewarding at the same time. I decided to approach the people that keep me in shape. In my opinion, they have a successful business based on the popularity of the kickboxing circuit workout gym they own. Behind the fist-clenching, hard-punching, sweat-dripping ladies at 30 Minute Hit Richmond, are the two young muscular men with mixed-martial arts (MMA) background, pushing the women to fight harder, to stay fit and to potentially gain self-defence skills.

For almost two years now, 30 Minute Hit Richmond has been a franchise owned by two childhood friends, Mikey Leung and Tak Sasaki. Mikey’s MMA trainer, also known as the 30 Minute Hit founder, introduced Mikey to the women’s gym just a few steps below the gym Mikey trained at. Seeing the success and the potential of business growth, it wasn’t long until Mikey partnered with Tak, and owned 30 Minute Hit in Richmond.

“It’s a good business with a cheaper franchise opportunity,” Mikey recalls as to why he decided that 30 Minute Hit is “it”. “Well, I love it as it is the same field as my hobby [MMA],” he continued, also adding that after doing some market research, that Richmond would eventually need their own Hit.

After all, Mikey was a bit of a risk taker already, investing in small properties before owning his own. But besides the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping women reach their fitness goals, Tak and Mikey truly enjoy the flexibility and versatility of being their own boss. Because they’re also the personal trainers of the gym, they take turns with the shifts of training the women. As owners, they have the power of creating more ways in making things “work” for them. They are responsible for their own work, and this truly is motivating.

When asked about furthering their time flexibility by hiring personal trainers, Mikey said that, “[he] loves the members, and seeing progression with the women’s fitness. [He] really is passionate about helping them with their goals, and [he] cares.”

But along with advantages of self-employment comes the challenges. As we all know, owning a business—no matter how “cheap” –is an investment…a risk. There are times—months even—, when income would be non-existent. And when this happens, there will be no boss to “bail you out.”

As mentioned earlier, business is good. Being a franchise definitely helps with the marketing aspect of 30 Minute Hit Richmond. Along with other franchisees, they support each other with marketing tactics thus promoting the brand to Canada. Web presence is a very effective marketing tool, as Mikey and Tak invest money on search engine optimization (SEO) to increase web hits to their site. In addition, they like to alternate their marketing budget, spending it on print ads—specifically on The Richmond Review—, click ads, and flyers, whichever one is the most effective based on the past months’ membership sales. Fortunately, they provide the fitness aspect to The Richmond Review’s Style Rx section, where Richmond women get a makeover, or a “prescription for style”. This positions them as the go-to leaders of women’s fitness in Richmond. 30 Minute Hit would like to venture out to the upcoming Health and Wellness trade show in Vancouver, and soon will be coming to Safeway stores in Richmond, on the back of customers’ receipts. Another way to promote the business is by giving back to the community, such as donating a silent auction item—one-year membership—to Kwantlen’s Event Management 2011 class fundraiser for Small Talk. Still, most of 30 Minute Hit Richmond’s members come from member referrals, or word-of-mouth; a powerful tool. But as much as they want more membership sales, Mikey and Tak would never want to be seen as “pushy” in selling. Instead, they would like be an available resource for women who are looking for a workout that works with the attentiveness of personal trainers, and they respect the women’s decision if 30 Minute Hit is right for them.

When starting up a new business, it’s always necessary to have a plan—a business plan, an alternate plan, a plan for your new lifestyle. Confidence in the products and services is also important, in order to give you a background on the type of business being pursued. Also, if you can’t do something, there is no harm in having someone else do it for you; help is available.

It was an inspiring experience to get a glimpse of the untold story of the gym I go to. I also think that in order to have a successful business, it is important for business owners to get to know their consumers. Not only from what research says, but also by personally reaching out to them. Having a personal connection, and putting a human face to the company really adds something even more to the best product or service—customer service that a lot of business owners seem to ignore. At 30 Minute Hit Richmond, Mikey and Tak make sure that the women are given the respect and customer service they deserve, for at least 30 minutes.

Tak Sasaki and Mikey Leung

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