When you are building a profitable and sustainable fitness business you need to know why you make the choices you do. Today everybody is copying each other in our industry and the majority is blindly following the trends. It is rarely for someone to look outside to see also what other successful businesses in other service industries are doing. In this blog I point out three illogical decisions I see gym owners still making today. The old strategies may have worked well in the past but they don’t work anymore, especially if you are a small fitness business operating in the strength and conditioning niche.
Illogical decision #1; Building a sales office
I never understood why most gym owners are still spending money building sales offices in their facilities. For me, a sales office in a performance gym is not logical. Take a minute and try to remember when sitting behind a desk in an office was a pleasant experience for you. I know I can’t remember any. What I can remember is that every time I was sitting in the doctor’s office, he didn’t have any good news for me. The same goes for the lawyer’s office. Rarely will you feel comfortable sitting across someone’s desk in his office. So why do you think it should be any different in your gym?
In most cases a person that came trough your door was excited because of the environment and the atmosphere you have created in the gym. The sound of lifting weights, the music, the people, the motivational quotes on the wall. Believe me, the atmosphere in the gym is a strong part of the decision to buy. And now you want to take this person into your office? This is illogical. Instead of the office, you should have an open lounge area from where you can see all the action. You sit down at the table and you offer a person a smoothie. F#ck it, why not a beer so you can celebrate the beginning of his new fitness journey? No one is comfortable in offices but so many gym owners are still making this illogical decision and accommodating their floor design to install a sales office within their facility.
Illogical decision #2; Trying to be the best in town while trying to be the cheapest in town
Another example of illogical decision is pricing. If you ask a gym owner if his facility is the best in the city he will probably say yes (if the answer is no or I don’t know, we have a bigger problem). If the answer is yes and you are doing everything that you can to justify this you are probably marketing yourself as the best in what you do. So the logical answer to the second question – Are you also the most expensive gym in your city? – should also be yes. But again, this is rarely the case. And this is illogical.
Most of us associate the best with the most expensive. I know I do. You should get what you pay for, right? Still, when it comes to pricing gym services, most owners, even though they have a great facility and provide a great service, choose to go with cheaper pricing. How can you offer the best training and customer experience and also be the cheapest? The answer to this question is simple: You can’t! Either that, or you are lying or you are insecure and scared of the competition. It is not logical to price your services this way, yet so many gym owners are still doing it because they have no business plan and are blindly following the competition and outdated norms.
Illogical decision #3; Not putting in enough effort and investing to keep your members
The last illogical decision I see gym owners make is not implementing best business principles that are the foundation of all successful businesses in other service industries. Why shouldn’t working in other service industries work in the fitness industry? Instead of looking at what your competition is doing start you should be spending more time studying what is working in other good service businesses.
For example, let’s take restaurants, because we all go out to eat sometimes. The best restaurants in your city that have the best food, best service and best overall customer experience are probably not apologizing for being the most expensive restaurant. If you have an important guest where would you take him? To the cheapest restaurant or to the one where you always had the best dinner, service and experience? You would go back to the restaurant where you had the best food and experience because they know their business and you trust them. And you will keep coming back and tell everyone if they are in your town that they need to visit this place.
Don’t just spend time looking what other gyms are doing, rather investigate what other businesses that excel at service, customer experience, atmosphere and interior design in your area are doing and see what you can learn from them and what can be implemented into your business. What are they doing to keep their customers coming back again and again?
All successful businesses have one thing in common. They are not just spending money into acquiring new customers trough aggressive marketing and they don’t play price wars with their competition. They found their niche, they know what makes their customers happy and they invest a lot of time and money into their services, employees and overall client experience. And people who appreciate their efforts keep coming back even tough they are not the cheapest option.
Now, what do all the gyms that are struggling have in common? They are putting all their efforts into high-pressure sales that are usually built on low price offers and are taking place in the gym’s office. They are focusing exclusively on new business and are doing almost nothing to keep the existing members of the gym. If you want to stay in this business then I can tell you that this is another illogical decision or strategy you are making.
Now consider which part of your business may be illogical. Does it really make sense for you to have a sales office? Can you offer the best service and real results to your clients while being the cheapest? Can you have a sustainable and profitable gym with a business model that operates on monthly memberships or is it more logical to have a business model that operates on 3-months, 6-months or annual memberships?