Inside Track Q&A: Rory McInerney, MD and co-founder of Fitter Faster Stronger
Client-committed training facility that brings sports science-based training to the public
Rory McInerney is managing director and cofounder of Fitter Faster Stronger (FFS) – a training facility that brings sports science-based training to the public in a motivational, encouraging and fun environment. The mission of FFS is to make their clients’ time in the gym the best part of their day.
What sets your business apart from the competition?
The coaches, the environment and the type of training we do. We employ people who add value to our team and who we can value. We have a core team of six and we owe them everything. We give our staff input into every aspect of the business, how the gym is run, developing the class programmes, how we handle customer feedback, social media campaigns, etc.
The atmosphere in the gym is something that a lot of our clients come to us for. If the environment isn’t conducive to our clients working as hard as they can and enjoying their session, we’re not going to have a successful and sustainable business model.
We aim to bring sports science assistance to the general population that wouldn’t usually have access to that type of training. We cater for everyone’s goals and we have developed a system where people who have never trained before can train with people who have reached the top levels of their sport. We find this way of training has built a very motivated environment where everybody encourages each other to do well.
What has been the best business advice you’ve been given?
Time is the most precious commodity we have. It’s not about looking at stats of turnover or how many clients we have. For us, it’s about how we spend our time as business owners and investing our time in relationships. We can say we are client centred in our business model but how do we prove that? We show that by building relationships with every single client and with our staff.
What’s been your biggest mistake in business?
Naivety when we were trying to open our second gym. We had a really promising location for a second gym when we were only open about 18 months and we pumped resources into and it fell through at the last minute. We learned from that. How to deal with factors that are outside of your control in business has been a good lesson for us.
What’s been your major success to date?
Swaying Ciaran Ruddock to join me in setting up the business when he had better options on the table! Also recently signing the lease on our second premises.
What’s been your biggest business challenge?
We reached all of our three-year goals within our first 18 months in business, apart from opening a second location. We found that frustrating but we kept working at improving what we had and making our model better. We kept training our staff for when we did have a second premises and that’s been our biggest success but also our biggest challenge.
Who do you admire most in business?
Ciaran Ruddock my business partner. We were friends in college but I never considered him as a business partner. I worked as a coach abroad for a few years after college and, when I came back, I met up with Ciaran and we started bouncing ideas off each other about what we could bring to the fitness industry here. He’s very calm and deliberate and I’m quick to act on things. I respect him and look up to him. We wouldn’t be anywhere without each other.
In your experience, are banks open for business to SMEs?
In our experience they are and they have supported us from the start. I’m a coach, I don’t have a business background and my dad and my brother helped me put a business plan together. When I went into AIB with it they said, “look, this isn’t really up to scratch”.
I put my €400 Ford Fiesta down as my only asset and somehow they gave me the money!
Advice you’d give the Government on stimulating the economy?
From a health and fitness point of view, there’s huge potential for growth. In the next 14 years Ireland is on course to be the most obese country in the world. Under the Healthy Ireland programme, the Government said it wants to partner with the fitness industry to address this problem and I think one of the best ways they can do that is supporting people to have access to at least one session with a coach who can direct them with how they can address their health needs properly.
Short-term future for the business?
Getting the second location up and running by January, trying to reach capacity as soon as possible and grow our business keeping our clients at the centre. Then, in the next two years, opening locations three, four and five. We’ve also started an internship programme which we’re very proud of.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
If you ask our members, they’d probably say one number but if you asked them what it is worth without our team they’d probably tell you it’s not worth anything, so it’s all about the team that’s in place. We wouldn’t sell it because we are directly linked to everything our business does. We couldn’t expect anyone else to run it the way we do.