Many of us join a gym or health club only to cancel our membership just a few months later, after wasting a lot of money for little result.
Shelly Murphy, 29, had worked in the industry and felt that the high turnover of members displayed the presence of an unfulfilled need in the sector. So she decided to establish Royal Day Spa and Health Club, that would pursue a holistic approach to mental and physical well-being and take on members who love visiting her club.
“I started off my working life as a jeweller but I was working hard and not making much money and I needed to make more really,” says Murphy. “So I took a job at a health club and, realising that there was a gap in the market, I set up a consultancy.
“ I was going into startup companies doing their sales and marketing for them and boosting their membership. This developed into handling staffing and making their club a better place to be.”
But Murphy soon found that it wasn’t enough to be running other people’s affairs for them and she longed for something of her own.
“I was away from home a lot and I wanted to start my own club up, however this took a lot longer then I expected.”
Murphy found two sites that were suitable, but just when she was on the brink of closing the deal they fell through.
Finally, she found her ideal building in Tunbridge Wells, which is connected to an apartment block and is now her venue. However, getting started was going to be an uphill battle.
Murphy had to endure two years of wrangling over deals, planning, building works and to top it all off she lost her business partner during that time too.
“It was a very frustrating time and I had to find some work to keep me going financially,” she says.
She lost her business partner after over a disagreement of how the business was to be run.
“We disagreed about the type of club we wanted to set up, he wanted a gym but I thought that a Spa was the way to go forward.”
Shelly wanted to break the mould of a traditional health club and make her business an exclusive top of the range centre for health and well-being. Her own family background had given her many of the ideas and themes for her club.
“Mum was a bit of a hippy,” she says. “So I was already very familiar with many of the concepts involved.”
But the subsequent loss of her partner had major implications for the funding of the business and she was now fifty percent short of investment. However, Murphy gritted her teeth and tackled the problem head on.