How Two Sisters Started A Fat-Freezing Empire
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
For as long as we can remember, my sister and I wanted to own a business together. It started with lemonade stands when we were 5 and 7! We had no clue it would eventually be a Fat-Freezing empire and 1000s of happier and more confident clients. As a child I was once told, “JJ (my nickname) it’s a good thing you work hard because you are pretty stupid.”
For some reason that comment left its mark and I knew without a doubt I’d play a big game, build a successful company, and prove that person wrong.
In October 2014, my sister and I tried to buy an existing medspa. The doctor politely declined but did mention, “girls there is enough fat to freeze for all of us to win. Go out there, start your own thing, and do well!” This was a remarkable thing for the doctor to say and it gave us the courage and excitement to do it!
Three months later, after raising $400,000 from an investor, friends, and family, Bodify was born.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My sister had a recovery concierge business and sick and tired of the invasive aesthetic industry.
She felt results never amount to what was promised, patients felt as if they were hit by a train after an invasive procedure, and the downtime was typically unbearable. She loved the idea of transforming bodies but hated surgery, downtime, pain and potential complications.
As a child I was once told, “it’s a good thing you work hard because you are pretty stupid.” For some reason that comment left its mark and I knew without a doubt I’d play a big game, build a successful company, and prove that person wrong.
I on the other hand, was going from business to business working for different organizations and trying to find my place in the world. I love people, I love to uplift, and I wanted to make sure I found a career path that allowed me to actually help people yet be genuine. Something inside of me always knew my passions and my sister’s passions would eventually align and we’d do something big!
As someone who personally struggled with body image, I was thrilled Melissa was working in a business that offered CoolSculpting and had first hand experience with it and how well it worked! We felt the technology spoke for itself and we knew that good, bad, right, or wrong, how people feel in their skin, impacts how they operate in the world, how they perceive themselves, and how others perceive them. So how cool that we could have a technology that positively impacts people, allows us to build a business together, and also build a team that we love, respect, and shows up to work everyday happy to be there?!
My sister had been in the aesthetic space long enough to know most device companies oversell what the device is capable of and all they care about is selling you the machine and then selling you the new version the next year.
Something that really drew us to CoolSculpting, outside of the fact that my sister had seen wonderful results from it on 100s of patients, is their business model.
CoolSculpting has reps that sell the machines, but they also have PDMs- practice development managers- assigned to your account. These individuals make their money in two ways. 1- when you buy consumables needed to run the machine. 2- when you actually use the consumables. This, from our perspective, meant that the reps would also have skin in the game and a sincere desire to help you grow your practice. The running joke among CoolSculpting reps is,
“If you don’t treat, we don’t eat!”
We liked this model and felt it was much stronger than the typical model of device companies that sell you a machine and don’t care if you succeed. The sales reps often, fall of the map until the next version is available. At which point, they show back up and try to get you to buy the new and upgraded device.
CoolSculpting, outside of the machine color, has been the same device from day one. The only thing that has changed is how many body parts can effectively be treated and are FDA-cleared for the device, and how many applicators the device has.
When we opened Bodify Zeltiq was still the owner of CoolSculpting and committed dollars to direct to consumer marketing. This was also a big factor in our decision. We wanted to offer a technology that had a strong company behind it that no only loved it product but also put money behind marketing it.
As of today, Allergan (recently sold) is investing 65 million a year to marketing CoolSculpting, this helps us tremendously. They have penetrated the marketplace and created tremendous brand awareness around CoolSculpting. When we first opened, we could go to the grocery store in our CoolSculpting scrubs and no one came up to us, now, everytime I go to a store at least 5-10 people ask me about the technology, how it works, if it works, how much it cost? It’s a good problem to have!
The decision to go all in with CoolSculpting came when we went to an investor and our friends and family and got a YES from each and every person, we knew we were on the right path. So we took a leap of faith, hired a medical director, bought 2 machines, signed a 5 year lease, had a website built, and began to market. My sister and I grew up with two parents who both owned businesses, so taking calculated risks and thinking like entrepreneurs is in our DNA.
Describe the process of launching the business.
To this day, we still believe the most important step we took was hiring someone to create a business plan.
We needed money to launch Bodify and we didn’t have 400k. We’ve watched enough Shark Tank to know if we didn’t have a solid business plan, no one would take us seriously or invest in our vision.
Be clear on who you are, be authentic and ensure that everything you do from marketing, to how you answer the phone, to how you treat people, to how your space looks, is inline with the branding and marketing messages you are using.
We spent about 20 hours with Chris Miller ([email protected]) who built our business plan, going over every number, every opportunity, every threat, weakness, and strength. He built several models so we could easily demonstrate a good, better, and best scenario to potential investors. Many people think going to an investor and asking for money is hard, we found going to our family members and asking for money was even harder. These are people who know and love you, but won’t hand you their hard-earned money without sincere belief that it’ll come back to them.
I’ll never forget being on the phone with the one and only non-family member investor who said “let’s do this, where do I send the check?!” Melissa and I literally started to jump up and down and silently scream all the while trying to act cool so the investor didn’t realize he was the very first person to invest in us and our dream.
We raised $400,000 from 4 people. The money was set to be used to purchase the CoolScultping machines, build a website, secure a physical location and decorate it, hire a medical director, and have enough money left over to ensure we could market for 6 months even if a dime of revenue didn’t come in.
We know far too many businesses don’t have enough money to do what is necessary at the start to market and we didn’t want to become another statistic. We know momentum is hard to gain and easy to lose, so we knew we needed to hire a marketing company, we are very clear on who we are, what our differentiators are, and why anyone should not only do CoolScultping but more specifically come to Bodify for the treatment.
Prior to opening we had to find a location. We looked at over 60 locations. My sister always has the client experience on her mind (she has worked for the 4Seasons in the past). So not any space would do. She wanted it to be bright, have a nice flow, and we needed to find a location that would offer us tenant improvements so we could make it a beautiful space. Real estate is not our gift, so we found an agent and went to work. Even after finding the space our agent had a lot of negotiations and paperwork. We locked in a 5 year lease and joked that if Bodify didn’t make it, at least we had a suite with a bathroom and my sister, her husband, and I could all move in and have a place to sleep and bathe.
Purchasing the machines was easy, we opted to buy them outright, with the money we borrowed, as we had better terms with family and our investor. However, that initial $400,000 was paid back in less than 2 years and we’ve never borrowed again.
Different businesses have different models and beliefs however, we have always wanted to grow and cash flow that growth on our own. This may mean it takes us longer, but we never want to owe money to anyone ever again.
We worked with a designer to make our space gorgeous Lisa Grieve and she’s been a valuable asset for our website, second location and any other aesthetic decisions we make!
Bodify launched in January 2015, and by our second month we were making enough money to cover all our expenses and have profit left over. We were thrilled! Within 2 months we became the number one account in Arizona based on the number of CoolScultping treatments we were doing each week and have never looked back.
Melissa and I both listen to Guy Raz “How I Built This” podcast on NPR and he always ask entrepreneurs “are you successful because of your hard work or luck?” This is one of my favorite questions. Melissa and I whole-heartedly believe that both have played a role in our success. We were “lucky” that we found CoolScultping, we are lucky that CoolSculpting has been around for 10 years with wild success, and we are lucky that our friends/family/investor believed in us and let us borrow money.
But make no mistake about it there are 1000s of other people out there that had access to the same technology and investor money, but we’ve built a multimillion dollar company. We have and continue to work tirelessly, do everything necessary to deliver on our promises to our clients and staff, and constantly have in the back of our minds the desire to continue to grow, learn, and improve. As a result we are successful.
For us, one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned, be clear on who you are, be authentic and ensure that everything you do from marketing, to how you answer the phone, to how you treat people, to how your space looks, is inline with the branding and marketing messages you are using. People pick up on things that are incongruent or when there is a disconnect, so be who you are all the way through!
I always say, “McDonalds doesn’t have a great burger, it has a shitty burger, but you get the same shitty burger everytime and people like consistency.”
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When we opened we didn’t have a single person in our database. The Doctor we tried to buy the other business from said, “if you take my database, I’ll come after you.”
He also happens to be our uncle, so Thanksgivings are all kinds of fun these days :) As a result, we knew when we opened we’d need to market like crazy, network like crazy, and do everything in our power to get our name out there.
We have always believed in “do what you do best and delegate the rest” so we hired a marketing company (this is why we raised more money than needed to open). They have done a wonderful job. Their sole job was to drive people who had an interest in CoolSculpting to our website and landing pages. From there, we offered something of value in exchange for the visitor’s name, number, and email.
Once we had that, the onus was on us to get that person to come in for a consult and purchase CoolScultping. Most medspas that are larger than us get way more leads than we do each month, but what we do with our leads is so vastly different that we end up setting more consults, having a higher show rate, and a higher close rate than other offices who simply squander their leads.
50% of those who do CoolSculpting have never done an aesthetic procedure before, they are nervous and often in the early stages of gathering information. So Bodify wants to be the company they find online, hear about from friends, read about on Yelp, see on a direct mailer, or hear on the radio and then be with them on their journey of discovery and eventual fat freezing transformation.
We have a saying “buy, die, or unsubscribe” at Bodify. We believe we are the best at CoolSculpting and that if you are a candidate for CoolSculpting, it is the BEST fat reduction procedure out there. So we feel the pressure is on us to stay in touch with people, treat them like gold, educate them, wow them with the experience and the results and trust if we do right by them, they will share their story with others!
Bodify spends about $25,000-$30,000 a month on marketing. We don’t believe there is a magic bullet or one thing you can do as a business owner in regards to marketing to be successful, they all work together. We do believe however you have to be very intelligent in your tracking. There are a million resources out there to ensure you can track where your leads are coming from. This will truly allow you to see which avenues are working! As an owner you have to be discerning and make tough decisions, but they become much easier when you have tracking in place. Numbers always tell a story, so read the story and know it!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are kicking butt and beyond grateful. There are 3500 CoolSculpting accounts and we’ve been as high as number 4 in the nation and the accounts that are above us have multiple locations, so we are very proud. We decided to open a second location and it launched in May 2019. We crunched the numbers and knew what our breakeven number was, we sold 10 times more in our first week than we needed to hit that number.
Rich people sort, poor people convince. Not everyone is your client, it’s ok to not take money from someone if they are not a good fit for you, your practice, your product, or your services.
Each year we continue to grow and thrive. We see more new clients, more repeat clients and our profitability grows. Most medspas hit between 7-13% profitability, we are at 37%. To be clear this includes all expenses, even our salaries, taxes, and fully funded retirement accounts. We don’t believe top line revenue tells the true story, what matters is what you actually keep! We are highly profitable because we understand our business, the industry, and our numbers.
For us, we’d love to eventually sell Bodify and we know in order to get the multiple we want, proof of concept has to be there. So 1 or 2 locations isn’t going to do it. We plan to be the best and most profitable CoolScultping practice in the Galaxy.
We are not entirely sure what the future of Bodify will look like, but we do know we will continue to grow and expand within Arizona and hopefully outside of the state as well. We love our model and feel that focusing on one technology is a huge advantage. Especially when it comes to lasting fat-reduction, you only have one opportunity to do it right, so you better go to a top provider, with exceptional reviews, that eats, lives, sleeps, and breathes CoolScultping.
We think it will be a wonderful adventure that forces us to find more people to join our team, lock down our processes and systems even more, find redundancies, and learn new ways to continue to be cutting edge with marketing and the client experience,
Our first year in business we did $740,000 last year we did $2,100,000 in sales. This year we are on track to far exceed that with the addition of our second location in May 2019.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
A few things we know: So many more to share, but these are our favorites
People never remember what you say, they always remember how you make them feel.
Uplift at every opportunity. This includes your team, prospects and clients. We always tell our team, no matter how you are interacting with a person (in person, phone, text, email), when the interaction ends, they better feel better than when it started.
Humanity needs this and it’s an easy thing to offer so make it part of your DNA. Spark Joy!
Money flows where the focus goes.
So many businesses try to be good at too many things. They forget who they are. They try to be everything to everyone and end up doing most things poorly.
We wanted to be the experts in one thing! We trusted if we did this, we could build an exceptional business that actually delivered on its promises and had clients who raved about us.
Your team is a reflection of you
Treat them like gold. Give them the tools and resources to be successful. You must have processes and systems, without them, you can never grow, scale and thrive. If your team isn’t performing, self-reflection is the first thing to do.
You can’t just be better, you have to be different.
Get clear on what makes you different and unique. Find ways to articulate them and sing them from the mountain top in everything you do. Bodify opted to be the 1st and ONLY CoolSculpting only practice in AZ, we have a Man Cave, we offer a Beautiful Results Promise™ (our guarantee) and have unparalleled client services. These things allowed us to stand out in a sea of mediocrity and sameness.
Momentum is hard to gain and easy to lose.
Never let off the gas, continually search for ways to grow and improve. Be confident but also understand as a top provider someone in 2nd place is always looking to take over your position.
Rich people sort, poor people convince.
Not everyone is your client, it’s ok to not take money from someone if they are not a good fit for you, your practice, your product, or your services. It can be tough to say no to money, but it always comes back to bite you in the end.
Hire for heart
People always say, “you can’t trust your team, no one will work as hard as you, as a business owner, no one will care more than you do!” We don’t find that to be true. Hire slow and fire fast. Trust that with your processes and systems you can teach anyone what they need to thrive in your business.
Hire for heart! That can't be taught and its what is needed in society and in your business.
The fastest way to go out of business is to compete on price.
There is ALWAYS someone willing to do it for less. So you must find something else to compete on. If you only compete or position yourself on price, you become a commodity. You can’t be the BEST and the cheapest so decide who you want to be.
You can’t do good business with bad partners.
We are insanely fortunate to work as sisters. We trust each other implicity. We have been offered partnerships time and again, but until the right “person” comes along we continue to say no. Often it appears so attractive to join forces, get an injection of cash and help spread out the workload, but you can’t do good business long term if you partner with the wrong people.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- WordPress - website platform
- Zapier - to get contacts from landing pages into CRM
- Fiverr - small projects
- Instapage - landing pages
- Keap (CRM)
- Fix Your Funnel - text platform
- Xero - accounting
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- How I Built This - NPR
- Dave Ramsey - Podcast
- Good to Great
- 4 Hour Work Week
- Rising The Bar- Podcast
- EO - Local Arizona Chapter
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Trust your gut. If you don’t think it leads you in the right direction, do some person/spiritual work and make sure you can get back to trusting it!
Your thoughts and beliefs create your reality so decide to be upbeat, positive, and know you can do it. Never be attached to the “how” only the outcome.
For example, be attached to success, but don’t stress about how you’ll get there, what product, company, service, etc. will make it happen.
Just do what you need day after day and trust you will be guided to the right people, places, opportunities, and decisions. Act as if life is rigged in your favor- because it is!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking to hire! We start each and every person at the front office. We believe this is the most critical position.
We also want everyone on our team to respect everyone, we want people to know there is a growth path when you join our team and we want everyone to be able to step in and help if someone is out for the day. Full time at our Arcadia/Phoenix location.
No CoolScultping skills required just a good heart, willingness to learn, a passion to succeed, and a desire to uplift and make a difference, everything else we can teach.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Bodify has provided an update on their business!
Over 1 year ago, we followed up with Bodify to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
7 months ago, we followed up with Bodify to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Over 2 years ago, we followed up with Bodify to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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