Fitness Business Canada contributing authors Paula Comfort and Alanna Turco interview Peter Twist and Julie Rogers, co-owners of Twist Conditioning Inc.
Fitness Business Canada: Twist Conditioning’s strong corporate culture seems to be the foundation of your business. Can you describe it for us?
Peter Twist: Our corporate culture is based on giving out energy. It’s also about being hungry and humble and being better every day. As a team, we have each other’s backs. We extended all these feelings to our clients and customers too.
Julie Rogers: We’ve always found that the most positive aspect of our business is the people within it and their passion and enthusiasm. We often find that the people drawn to our organization come with this inherently – they don’t learn passion and enthusiasm from us. Each time we add someone new who has these qualities, it brings more life to the brand, the company and our culture. We’re very appreciative of all the people we’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years.
FBC: It sounds like you have a really loyal team. What are some of the things you do to retain your employees?
P.T.: We work a lot on leadership training and team building with ideas borrowed from my experiences in professional sport and from sport culture. A lot of businesses use sport buzz words, but I don’t think they always understand what they’re about. We’ve had the opportunity to live the words and to be sport coaches in formal team-building settings and to interact with athletes and people like Mark Messier and bring tons of these experiences into our business operations.
We’re big believers in getting out of the office with our staff and using the power of nature and the outdoors. Being on the west coast, we’re blessed to be surrounded by nature and locations where we can go whale watching and go hiking in the rain forest.
FBC: I know you have many franchises now. How do you ensure that your franchisees have the same values that you have?
Peter: We’ve added franchises slowly and have done pretty much one franchise a year. I think that sets a record for the slowest franchise growth of any business in any industry! There’s a bit of an art to it, and we take our time. Certainly, we try to pick the right partners who will hire the right people as coaches and staff. I think, as Julie said, we’ve nailed this.
At the canfitpro conference, we all come in and we work hard. We’re involved with 21 sessions and we’ve got a big trade show position that’s like a mosh pit with lots of business meetings and socializing. We’re going around the clock. We like to feel depleted when we finish something like this and that we’ve given our best in all ways. We go out for a nice dinner afterwards and drink some nice wine and we all kick back. It’s an informal setting, but we go around the table and share thoughts about what made the conference and the trade show enjoyable and successful. Or we might ask everyone for three things they could do to help make the team better. People get recognition and acknowledgement and feel included and valued. We think that these little exercises here and there tend to have more power than a big corporate retreat.
FBC: How is your team involved in the strategy of your business?
Julie: We ask for a lot of input and we want a lot of input because employees are what make our business successful. Each employee is an ambassador of the brand and the company, so we rely heavily on their opinions. On the sales and marketing side, I rely on my coworkers and teammates to tell me what’s going on in their individual units in the world because they’re the eyes and the feet on the street for me. In terms of future direction, we again rely on input from our key employees. We want them to know that they have an impact on the company’s direction. We go forward based on a sort of group consensus.
FBC: With respect to the future of Twist, where will you be concentrating your efforts?
Julie: We have been very fortunate to have a lot of opportunities presented to us. It is a blessed position, but it can also be dangerous. In the past we’ve bitten off more than we could chew, and we’ve learned from our mistakes.
We’re now much more cautious and careful with what we do because we need to do it to the best of our abilities. Whatever job we do, we need to be 100% invested and committed – doing a job at 80% or even 99% isn’t good enough. So in the near future we’ll be making sure we’re building and growing what we have.
FBC: What do you look for when you’re sourcing partnerships and products?
Peter: At first we don’t look at the partner or the product – we look at the methods that can come out of the product, and then we work backwards. Then we ask if it’s a quality product and a quality business run by quality people.
I look at over 100 products a year and meet a lot of inventors. Most of the products do something well – they might do the best calf stretch ever, but we’re not going to get behind a calf stretcher. It just doesn’t fit with our paradigm of sports performance. We’ve done partnerships recently with Trigger Point Performance Therapy and we’ve been looking for recovery restoration products. We were aware that ViPR was coming to market three and half years ago, and we urged that along. A product has to fit with our philosophy and we have to be proud to get behind it.
Julie: One thing I’d like to add is that once we find that the product is the right fit, the corporate culture of the other partner becomes really important. Obviously we’d be their ambassador, so we want them to be the same type of people as us.
Peter: We’ve been very fortunate to become best friends with the owners of our primary brands. We’ve gone to Hawaii to see U2 together with one of our partners. And it’s not a business trip to build a business relationship – it’s because we’ve built strong friendships. When this kind of thing happens you know you’ve made a good match.
FBC: Julie, can you tell us a bit about what you do as head of sales and marketing?
Julie: Even though I have a sales and marketing title on my business card, I might be involved in ten other things in a day. I have knowledge based on history that some of my other team mates don’t have, so every day is absolutely not the same. I think that part of the real thrill and the passion I have for my job is related to the variety of things I do. I enjoy the sales and marketing aspect, and I’ve done a fair amount of the finance role and business development since inception. I also handle all of our vender relations, product supply chain, negotiations with our suppliers, and manufacturers, dealer development and big box accounts, marketing and brand strategy, and I am grateful to work alongside and provide leadership to our sales team.
FBC: I noticed on your website that you have a customer experience specialist. I love the title. What does he or she do?
Julie: About three years ago, we had a consultant working for us. One of her strengths was that she was a former client of ours in our Sport Conditioning Centre. Her professional background was working with businesses from a customer service standpoint. She saw an opportunity for us to make changes and improvements in our business model and we absolutely jumped all over that. She came up with the job title. It’s a very important front line job that has helped our business immensely. We introduce an element of customer experience specialist to all of our positions. Whether they’re our accountant or a front liner, we all need customer experience skills.
Contact Twist Conditioning at www.twistconditioning.com
Paula Comfort brings more than 20 years of experience in the spa and fitness industry, a popular speaker at industry conventions and currently, partner with 360 Impact Group where she consults in all areas of club management. Most recently Paula has also been a part time professor at Humber College. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alanna Turco has 20 years of management and training experience in the fitness and spa industries, she has been a speaker at several local, regional and international IHRSA conferences and is a contributor for prominent industry magazines. You can reach Alanna at email@example.com.
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