on October 26, 2022
The first EMS studio in Hong Kong
Conquering a market like China is not easy – conquering it with a studio type that is not yet known in this market makes it even harder. But our client EMS Fitness did just that. Simon Stoll and Beatrice Chan started their own EMS studio in the metropolis Hong Kong. Simon is the studio manager and personal trainer. He moved from Germany to Hong Kong to fulfil his dreams. At his side: Magicline. In the interview he tells us about his experience in the Chinese market, about his idea of fitness and about the way he uses Magicline to be successful.
Interview with Simon Stoll, EMS studio owner in Hong Kong
Hi Simon, tell us about your founding story- when and why did you open your EMS studio in HongKong?
I have lived in Hong Kong for 4 years about 10 years ago. Back then and after my return to Germany I worked in banking. I always believed that Hong Kong is the perfect place for starting an EMS business. Fitness and wellness is a fast growing trend there but people are super busy and don’t want to commit too much time to their gym routine. People here trust in German technology and are always looking for the latest trends. On the other side EMS studios only require small spaces. Rents are much higher than in Germany, so this is a major advantage over traditional large-scale gyms. But more importantly I always wanted to come back and start my own business in this amazing city.
People here trust in German technology and are always looking for the latest trends.
What is special about your studio and what is your goal/ vision for the future?
For a start we are basically the only EMS gym in Hong Kong. There have been a few trials by other gyms but they were not successful. The environment seems to be ideal for EMS gyms but the fitness sector is super competitive here and many different concepts are fighting for the customers attention. So even though EMS is a well-established fitness concept in Germany, decided to start small and learn first. Once we have a better understanding of the customer needs and know how to effectively reach them, we want to open more studios and establish an EMS brand.
We want to open more studios and establish an EMS brand.
What are the noticeable differences between owning and running a studio in Germany and in HongKong?
I have not run an EMS gym in Germany but I have trained in different studios for about 7 years. At one point I actually planned to join a franchise system and open my studio in Germany but didn’t follow through. The major difference is that the EMS concept is well established and most potential customers know about it or have heard from friends about it. They believe it is working or heard about a success story. We have some expats here who have done it or heard about it from a friend. Those potentials are super easy to convert into customers. But the vast majority has never heard about EMS and educating and convincing them is a different story. On the other hand, word of mouth is quick here in HK and we receive a lot of referrals.
The vast majority has never heard about EMS and educating and convincing them is a different story. On the other hand, word of mouth is quick here in HK and we receive a lot of referrals.
What are challenges you faced when opening your studio in HongKong?
The start was rather smooth. We found and renovated a location within a few weeks. Our marketing channel was working and we were soon quite busy with trial trainings. However, exactly 1 month after opening HK went into a COVID lockdown for almost 4 months. This was always a possibility but looking at the rest of the world I thought the time for lockdowns was over. The timing was terrible because the western and Chinese new year business was gone and the lockdown let to a massive exodus of expats and highly educated locals – exactly our target customers. Being shut down so quickly is also a mental challenge. Luckily, we saw early promising results, which kept us motivated. When we finally reopened we had a very strong restart.
Which trends do you observe in the industry that you believe you should follow?
I am new to the fitness industry. However, we see lots of clients who are looking for low impact training to protect their joints and ligaments. Those prospects are intimidated by conventional weight training or they want to recover from previous injuries. There is only a limited offering for these clients here in HK. The market is full of “extreme” fitness or yoga options but there seems to be a large demand for regular who want to build up every day strength in a gentle way.
We see lots of clients who are looking for low impact training to protect their joints and ligaments.
How have you heard about Magicline and what were the reasons for you to use Magicline for your studio in HongKong?
I did quite a bit of online research and spoke to a number of providers. Magicline covered most of our requirements but more importantly, I had a good impression of their customer support. Since I had no experience with gym CRMs, that made me more confident about a successful implementation. This first impression has proven right during the onboarding and until today. The support is very responsive and understands my issues.
Magicline covered most of our requirements but more importantly, I had a good impression of their customer support. This first impression has proven right during the onboarding and until today. The support is very responsive and understands my issues.
How was your experience with the internationalization process of Magicline?
We are using Magicline for 10 months. In the beginning, I could still tell sometimes that I was using a German software. By now everything from English translation to time zones and local payment options is well implemented. Automated recurring payments are key to a lean administration of my gym. Before I started, I thought that we need to offer a vast variety of payment options. But it turned out that recurring credit card payments are accepted by 98% of clients. After that module has been rolled out, it is working very smooth and provides me with an easy overview of payment runs. We have further implemented dunning runs, which are automated payment reminders for rejected payments.
What do you appreciate about Magicline? Which features do you like best?
When I started looking for a gym CRM, I was focused on a sleek booking system for my clients and prospects. After running the gym, I realized that there are so many features which can and must be automated to run a lean administration. The easy integration of credit card payments is amazing but also a must here in HK. I tried other ways of payments but those require lots of manual work and back and forth communication with the customer. The customers love the quick and paperless onboarding process and the booking app. One other feature which saves us much manual is the option to pause the contract. This feature is easy to use and flexible. They payment will be automatically recalculated. Our clients travel frequently and without this feature we wouldn’t be able to offer so much flexibility.
One feature which saves us much manual is the option to pause the contract. This feature is easy to use and flexible. They payment will be automatically recalculated.
How does Magicline support your daily work?
We want to keep the manual admin work to a minimum. Magicline helps potential customer to book their trials online directly on our website or leave their contact. The paperless member sign up and payment integration is very smooth. We were able to automate all standard communication incl. trials, contract information, booking app registration, appointment reminders etc. which saves lots of time. Another important fact is that the clients have a stable and easy booking tool. All of our clients are using it which reduces communication for scheduling and rescheduling to a minimum.
All of our clients are using the app for bookings, which reduces communication for scheduling and rescheduling to a minimum.
Thanks so much for the interview, Simon!