One of the biggest expenses for a fitness facility is equipment. Maximizing the value of that investment is key to making sure it is money well spent—for the facility operators, for the members and for the facility's overall image.

With just a few simple steps and a few minutes spent each day, facility owners and operators can make sure that they are getting the most out of every piece of equipment in their fitness center.

When a new piece of equipment is installed in a fitness facility, it is bound to generate some excitement and buzz. But do you take the time to properly introduce everyone to the new equipment?

"Everyone" includes the members, club staff, personal trainers, maintenance team and anyone that walks through the club's doors. Most manufacturers will send someone from their organization, either a sales representative, service technician or master trainer, to introduce club staff to the ins and outs of the product. They should be excited to show you all of the great features of the product. Some even offer product training videos on YouTube or their own website. Make sure to ask what resources are available to you.

Plus, the more in tune your staff is with the features of a product, the better they can engage members and get them excited about the new workout options. This offers personal trainers a chance to meet more members, and it shows your members that their well-being and fitness achievements matter to you.

Safety also is a consideration. To be inviting, equipment should not be too complex. But do you really want everyone hitting "quick start" on the innovative new product you just purchased? Teach them how to use it properly and show them the vast options available to them. Members will get better workouts, try the different programs and see better results.

Daily Checklist

You have a daily checklist of tasks to complete when you close for the night and open in the morning, right? Does that list include simple steps such as wiping down equipment, vacuuming underneath treadmills, testing cardio console buttons, or checking strength equipment cables and upholstery? It should.

Just a few extra seconds spent at each piece of equipment might save you money in the long run with better maintenance, improved equipment function and limited liability because you will be ahead of any issues that might arise.

Regular Checkups

You take your car in for service. And I hope you schedule an annual physical for yourself. So why not do the same with your fitness equipment?

Although all manufacturers require minimum maintenance to be done to qualify for their warranties, sometimes embarking on a comprehensive preventive maintenance program can seem daunting, especially if you have a large facility or multiple facilities to maintain.

If you are not sure where to start, check the equipment owner's manual. And if you can't find that, check the manufacturer's website because most manuals are housed on their service pages. You can always check with your service technician, as most offer preventive maintenance programs so that operators can focus on the business side of their club. And, of course, you can check with the sales rep who sold you the equipment.

When daily, weekly, monthly and annual tasks are completed, you maintain the integrity of the club and the equipment. You limit club liability because you are ahead of issues. And the overall cost of ownership decreases because equipment repairs are done under warranty and parts are replaced before they do damage to the overall product.

Take a few extra minutes each day to inspect your equipment. It is well worth the time to protect your financial investment.

Repair vs. Replace

Even if you are diligent about your preventive maintenance, even if your staff is keeping an eye on the equipment performance and you are up-to-date on your warranty work, all fitness equipment still has a finite lifetime. Although it varies by facility—depending on the amount of use, the condition of the equipment at the start and the overall quality of the equipment—group cycles last five to seven years, cardio equipment lasts seven to 10 years and strength equipment lasts 10 years or more.

But how do club operators know when they must stop with the preventive maintenance and repair and instead replace equipment? It is a judgment call. Clearly, when it becomes a safety concern, it is time to replace. If you spend more time placing an out-of-order sign on equipment and more money fixing it than actually using it, it is time. If you have the money in your budget to replace it, then it is time.

A good preventive maintenance program will provide the numbers that will tell you how much it costs to repair each piece of equipment, how often a piece needs attention and how often it takes to fix the product.

Keeping an eye on equipment means you can replace pieces as they need to be replaced, ensuring the club is current and members are happy. If you do a full replacement of all products at one time, keep your members in mind. Offer them an alternate club to work out in during the installation process or schedule new equipment to arrive after hours when it will not affect members.

In short, if it makes sense for your facility—for safety, member needs and your budget—replace your equipment. Then, follow the steps above to make sure that members and staff know how to get the most out of the investment.

A little knowledge will go a long way in making sure that each equipment purchase is maximized to its fullest potential for everyone.

Content Sponsored by Star Trac.

Avi Shanbhag, service key account manager for Core Health and Fitness, which includes Star Trac, manages all service activities for national and strategic accounts for club companies such as LA Fitness, Town Sports International and New Evolution Ventures.