Some of the most successful gym owners have made countless mistakes that could have been avoided had they researched and planned more. Here are a few tips that can prevent club operators from going down that road.
From the front desk check-in associate to the manager, a club operator must hire a great staff to run the club's daily operations. Photo courtesy of Jonas Fitness.
These days, many gyms can be a dime a dozen. It seems that every person who works out wants to take a shot at opening his or her own gym, but not everyone is able to successfully keep it running and continue the flow of revenue. Successful health clubs require a lot of thought process, reassessment and more reassessment. Some of the most successful gym owners have made countless mistakes that could have been avoided had they researched and planned just a tad bit more. Although their efforts are inspiring, here are a few tips that can prevent you from going down that same painful road.
1. Have a realistic plan and budget. Construct a spotless business plan. Yes, spotless. It will be spotless when you know who your competition is, what your demographics are, have a marketing plan and understand the true costs of rent, software, payroll and utilities. Knowing true costs means you can't skimp on the important items, such as front-desk check-in software, staff, fitness equipment and rent.
First things first: Hire and train a great staff. Of course, your staff is extremely important to your gym's chance at succeeding, from the front desk check-in associate all the way to the manager you choose to run you daily operations. You must train them in a way that they understand your vision and philosophy on how to treat members like family and ensure that they are always smiling and engaged with the members. Staff members should go out of their way to call the member by name or ask about their day when they see them. Retention rates will increase, and members will be less likely to bounce to the gym across the street if they feel like you care and actually notice when they arrive for a workout.
2. Lawyer up. Make sure you have a reputable lawyer to look over and review all of your contracts. Many businesses have failed because owners have signed a poor lease or entered into a bad business agreement. Find a mentor or hire a consultant, preferably someone successful in running your type of club. If you are looking to franchise or grow to multiple locations, it may not be in your best interest to take advice from a local club owner who has owned only one club for the past 30 years. However, if you are looking to own and operate one successful club for many years, then that same local club owner may actually be a great resource. Check references and be certain that the person you are speaking to has experience that aligns with what you are looking for.
3. Price yourself right (and find a cool location). Product pricing at the dues level is just as important—if not more—than hiring the right staff and picking the perfect location. Today, you have three levels of pricing: low ($9 to $25), medium ($26 to $55) and high ($56 and up). You would be doing yourself a huge favor by staying out of the middle. It is the hardest place to compete because you have competition from all three levels. Choose to be in one space or the other. Pick your ideal member and sell to that person. You can't please everyone, right?
Location, location, location are the three most important factors when starting a business. It can drastically affect foot traffic, budget and marketing expenses. Once you have chosen your pricing structure (low, medium, high), you should complete your demographics study to understand if your surrounding is a good fit for your pricing structure.
4. Find the right partners. Any partnership is like a marriage. In business, you must make sure that you are not only personally compatible but like-minded before saying, "I do." Spend plenty of time talking about the vision of the club and the philosophy when it comes to hiring, firing and other services. If you are a go-getter who gets things done but you never look at the mess you make on the way, your partner has to be an individual who can slow you down just enough to avoid major pitfalls and vice versa.
Both partners' strengths must balance out. You will battle constantly, but if it is for the common vision, you will see the value in each other's stance and appreciate it. If one wants to grow the business and the other is happy with just one club, you will not be able to fix that problem, and things probably will not end well.
All and all, be sure to take a few steps back from the ledge and think twice before jumping into a stream of uncertainty.
Content Sponsored by Jonas Fitness Inc.
Dean Giamundo is a senior sales consultant at Jonas Fitness Inc. and currently leads all the business development efforts for the Northeastern region of the United States. Dean brings more than 10 years of sports, health and fitness industry experience to Jonas along with more than 20 years in the information technology field. This unique background, along with being a former Gold's Gym franchisee owner, gives him first-hand experience in assisting club owners to implement technologies and software that will increase profitability, help eliminate stress and increase work-life balance. He continues with these passions today as the owner of Forward Strides, a youth fitness company that focuses on the health and well-being of today's kids.