Starting a Gym
The idea of owning a gym, on the surface, sounds like a lot of fun and highly profitable; but there are many things to consider.
It seems like a perfect match; you love fitness, it is one of the few businesses that allows you to earn residual revenues, you get to help lots of people in need, and the best part...you get to say, "I own a health club". And while those are all definitely true, the day to day aspects of running a gym isn't quite as glamorous. Unless you are prepared, have proper systems in place, and are organized, your new health club business can quickly spiral out of control. But not to fear, we work with gym startups all of the time, cleaning up and streamlining the entire process.
The absolute first thing you need to do is put together your business plan for your health club startup. It doesn't matter if your father-in-law is financing the entire thing, you still need a plan. And not a one pager either. This plan has to be detailed. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Cliche? Yes. But very true.
Aside from creating your business plan, financing a gym is often the biggest source of frustration when trying to open a health club. You have a matter of a few months to get to break even or you're in trouble. You find that the construction process for a new gym comes with a whole host of headaches and delays. However long the gym build-out is supposed to take, plan for it to take twice as long.
Your local market and other fitness competitors need to be given much attention. Several decades of smarmy sales tactics and the inability to easily cancel a membership have left a bad taste in the mouth of many people. Combine that with the fact that a very small minority of people in any given market (traditionally 15%) are interested in what you have to offer, makes for a tough crowd. In addition, your competitors may try to make your life miserable by spreading rumors about you, stealing or destroying your signage, and running a special low-price promotion during the time you are running your presale and grand opening. This may not happen in your market, but be prepared for the dirty games competitors like to play.
Health club memberships are one of the only offerings that has not adjusted along with the cost of doing business and inflation rates. Every other product or service available to us has increased with the times; gasoline, food, clothing, financial services, real estate, minimum wage, etc. But not health club memberships. It is now much more expensive to open a health club than it was in the 80's and 90's, yet we are still selling memberships at the same prices, many times even lower! This increase in expenses and unchanging prices offers yet another challenge in this industry. (Did I mention that Fitness Marketing Group
will help you overcome these challenges?)
Prospective members are much smarter now too. They don't fall for the same tricks of the trade that were successful decades ago. Today people are bombarded with offers, sales, and marketing pieces. Did you know that each person is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements...per day! People are smart enough to know that they are in control and they know that if you don't offer what they need, there is another fitness business around the corner. You absolutely MUST design a marketing plan to stand out among your competitors and to impress the money out of your prospects' wallets.
Outside of work, the personal stress of owning a gym, can be even worse. This is especially true when you first open your fitness business. You could work many days from open to close, clocking 70+ hours a week. If you break down the amount you earn per hour, you'd likely be better off taking an hourly retail position or wait tables at a restaurant. (In other words, you'd better love this industry) Your relationships suffer, your family rarely sees you, you don't have a personal life, and there is no such thing as a work-life balance...at least not for the first couple of years of opening the club...That is unless you prepare yourself and your business. Fitness Marketing Group will teach you to work on your business rather than in your business, allowing you to experience the lifestyle you are searching for by owning a health club
Though it might sound like our stance on opening a gym is negative, and full of doom and gloom, we assure you that starting a gym can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. We just want to make sure you understand that without proper planning, it will be difficult to succeed. In today's competitive health club and fitness industries, it's not as simple as "If you build it, they will come". Opening a new gym takes lots of planning, hours upon hours of research, loads of patience, and the ability to distinguish between a good and a bad business opportunity.
Here are some questions you need to be able to answer
- How are you securing funding for the business?
- Have you performed a break even analysis?
- Do you have a location for your facility picked out?
- What indicators lead you to believe it is a good location?
- Have you done an extensive competitive analysis?
- Is there a need in the community, or is it simply YOUR community?
- Do you have a business plan? (Better yet, is it a good one?)
- Have you planned the layout and design of your facility?
- What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) going to be?
- Have you gathered information on all of the best vendors?
- Do you understand the needs of your target market?
These are but a small sampling of questions you need to have answered long before you plan to open the doors of your new fitness center. Twenty years ago you could have gotten away with throwing some equipment in a big room and succeeded no problem. Today, making money in the fitness industry is not quite as easy. Without proper planning, the business you always dreamed about can quite literally become your worst nightmare.
For years Fitness Marketing Group has worked with club owners to start and build a profitable business. Unfortunately our industry is renowned for the lack of support structure for independently owned health clubs. Here at FMG we change that by providing unbiased and effective systems. We will provide you with all of the information, startup checklists, pre-designed templates, business forms, financing information, one on one coaching, marketing planning and implementation, staff training and tutorials to help you successfully launch your new health club business. And once established we will consistently work with you and your staff to meet your business goals.
After reading this you may have changed your mind and no longer want to open a fitness business. For that we are truly sorry, but you need to be aware of many things prospective gym owners choose to ignore. The truth of the matter is, even with all of the negative aspects of owning a health club, the good more often than not outweighs the bad. If you truly love what you do, have adequate financing, have the support of your loved ones, and know what you're getting into, owning a gym can be the most rewarding thing you can do during your lifetime. You just need to be mentally prepared for the ups and downs that come with the responsibility of opening your gym. If you can do that and you implement the right systems for success, you will have a lot of fun and will have a profitable business.