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Retrofit counsels clients, connects employees and finds talent, all on Skype

With a new year upon us, many people are planning ways to improve in 2013. Getting in shape frequently tops the resolution list. That’s one reason why business is booming at Retrofit, a Chicago-based weight loss company that offers consultations across the United States over Skype.

Retrofit Wellness Experts, from registered dietitians to exercise physiologists and behavior coaches, use Skype video calling for private lessons with clients to help them meet their weight loss and health goals. Given the personal nature of the consultations, Retrofit relies on Skype so counselors can develop close relationships with clients.

“It’s important that a client feels you have a personal connection,” says Whitney Durbin, director of client wellness at Retrofit. “You can’t get that over the phone.”

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Retrofit doesn’t rely just on one-to-one video calling, however. The company subscribes to Skype Premium so it can use group video calling too.

“At times, we have multiple Wellness Experts on a video call together with a client when we really need to troubleshoot a situation or just for full team camaraderie,” explains Durbin. “It helps make clients feel that they have a full team focused on their needs. Plus, it helps build a cohesive program where all of our Retrofit wellness experts are on the same page.”

Durbin also sees Skype’s benefits in Retrofit’s internal operations. The company is entirely remote, with full time employees spread out from Colorado to Maryland and down to Florida. Group video calling allows Durbin to host weekly team meetings that she says are just as effective as if everyone was in the same office.

“It makes the struggles of working remotely a non-issue in our day-to-day productiveness,” she says.

Moreover, the remote setup translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings.

“We save on real estate costs, by allowing employees to work from home,” says CEO Jeff Hyman. “They’re substantially more productive, by avoiding the continual interruptions of working in a traditional office environment. Yet, we still use Skype’s group meeting capabilities for brainstorming and innovation. Employees don’t have to spend time commuting, which is also lost time trapped in their cars.”

But most importantly, Hyman says, “we’re able to broaden our recruiting efforts to hire the best and brightest across the country instead of just in our local market. This has allowed us to grow much faster than we otherwise might have. We’ve reinvested these dramatic cost savings directly into making the Retrofit product even better.”

What’s next for Retrofit? Look for former National Football League players to start slimming down in 2013. The company recently signed a partnership with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to improve the health of its former players. A Retrofit spokeswoman reports that former players love being “coached” via Skype.

Do you have plans to use Skype to improve your business in the new year? Share in the comments, below.

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