Expansion Case Study: CheerForce, Inc.

Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? How do you answer the call to open another location? CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. 

Learn how CheerForce, Inc. tackles the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.

Expansion Case Study: CheerForce, Inc.

Locations: 6 (California)
Combined Number of Athletes: 500+

Shawn Herrera, founder of CheerForce, Inc., discusses his strategy and business philosophy when it comes to business.

CP: You’re back in school getting your MBA; tell us about that and why you felt it was necessary and what are you discovering?

Herrera: I went back to school because I realized my skill set wasn’t what it should be. The amount of knowledge I needed to do it right [grow the business] was not there. I needed a whole new level of thinking to solve issues, because really, there are two parts to business: product and process.

CP: What do you mean by process?

Herrera: The process, meaning marketing, recruitment, training, all that structure and procedure you need to operate. It is actually more important than the product. But that is not typically the case—most gym owners believe all you need is a good product.

CP: Why do you think that is?

Herrera: It’s the boring stuff—business basics—and no one wants to talk about it. People open for demand, but never think to ask if it will be profitable. Will it be sustainable? You need to step back and look at the numbers: will it work? You also need to stop and think about the end goal, [which should be] profit. It’s not the revenue, it’s the income—it’s that simple.

CP: Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Herrera: The scariest part: I realized I wouldn’t do it [expand] the way we did. We didn’t have a process in place; we weren’t ready, and we didn’t have staffing.

CP: How have your practices changed?

Herrera: We are working backward, really. Everything I’m doing now, I’m doing as part of my MBA program and applying in my business. To be financially strong, we need basic processes in place. For example, you need to have an original model that is perfect before you copy. CheerForce wants to be able to duplicate ourselves quickly and successfully. We don’t hit “copy” if I don’t have the process right.

CP: What’s your litmus test for knowing when you are ready to duplicate yourself?

Herrera: If you can go away on vacation for a month, will the gym still function? If the answer is no, you still need to work on your structure. If the answer is yes, hit the copy button and duplicate.

CP: Any last thoughts about owning a multi-location gym?

Herrara: I still strive to succeed with the product but not at the expense of my business, like charging less. It’s not sustaining, and it creates a crazy environment for athletes. We always innovate and test things out at our Simi Valley location. We make sure the original is good enough, regardless of where it’s implemented. For example, we are testing a new DVR system. I am creating a process that can work at every location and then we roll it out. We think of ourselves as one organization with seven teams.lp. Ask anybody and everybody! We are in this industry together and there isn’t a guidebook. Though we are competitors, we are all in it for the kids. 

-Cathleen Calkins