Before eager fitness studio owners open their doors for business, they’ll need to surmount their fair share of challenges. The fitness industry has quickly evolved into a hyper-competitive space, and maintaining a successful club is becoming a more elusive feat. In fact, a whopping 8 out of 10 fitness businesses will shutter in their first year. If you own a gym or aspire to, how can you ensure your studio’s survival? Better yet, how can you see your studio thrive and provide a comfortable living for you? You can get off to a good start by avoiding the common missteps gym owners make which hold back or even run their business into the ground. Check out our top four mistakes to avoid before opening your first fitness studio:
Locating where a previous gym closed
The fitness industry is tough and all too enticing for many well-meaning professionals who don’t have the business chops to turn their passion into profit. Therefore, studios are consistently being run out of business and leaving vacated space for lease. Setting up shop in the space of a failed gym may seem like a good idea. After all, it will require less renovation-related expenses and allow you to open for business sooner. Don’t be fooled: this can backfire and leave you in a hole on the PR front. The people in your community will likely not care to distinguish between your studio and the previous one that may have earned a bad reputation in the neighborhood. You could be shrugged off as “that gym on Main Street” and inherit a negative reputation you don’t deserve. Play it safe and ensure you control the message and image around your new business.
Using price-cut promotions
Low-ball promotions decrease the perceived value of what your gym offers. Think of it this way: if you assign a low price-point to your membership package or classes, then what are you telling customers about its value? In addition, you need to consider the type of customer you’re attracting. Low-price or no-commitment offers draw in leads who might not take their fitness journey seriously enough to invest in it. These offers can also attract people who are already looking for a way out as soon as they start. This type of member will not add value to your community or bottom line and may present payment collection headaches. Hone your marketing on beefing up the perceived value of your gym and its services. Use testimonials, videos, social media hype, and word-of-mouth marketing that showcase the quality of your programs and community.
Hiring friends and family
We all know the saying: never mix personal relationships with business affairs. You start up a gym with your best friend because you two have been talking about it for years. Your buddy’s son needs a summer job and he has his eyes on the front desk. Your sister’s new boyfriend likes weight lifting, and she’ll owe you one if you hire him as a trainer. But now the heightened stress of running the business puts a strain on your friendship, your friend’s son has three consecutive no-call-no-shows to work because he just doesn’t care, and your future brother-in-law looks at you as a bro instead of a boss. Avoid this slippery slope situation entirely by getting into business with people based on their capability and what unique skills they bring to the table.
Ultimately, no friend or family member cares about your gym as much as you. It’s your responsibility to put the best interest of your business first and mitigate the risk of hiring less than stellar employees.
Unstructured sales funnel
Small businesses like boutique studios often have to endure tough lessons on the sales front. Some of these businesses reject standard operating procedures in favor of informal interactions they’re convinced will give their business a more personal, human feel. While this all sounds great in theory, it’s actually a recipe for disaster. Inevitably, you’ll lose track of prospective clients and forget to contact them again. Or you can’t close sales because you don’t have a consistent elevator pitch. That’s why it’s critical to apply corporate efficiency to your burgeoning business; from standard procedures for customer interactions like appointment setting and class registration. Establish a framework that keeps staff on track. Furthermore, put your members’ mind at ease knowing they’re in a business that has its act together.
The first year of running a fitness business is a steep learning curve. Peaks and valleys await you as business owner along the way, and there will be moments where you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel. Absorb these lessons and anticipate what’s coming down the line. You’ll be well equipped to handle any issues that arise in the future. OneFitStop has all the features you can imagine to help organize, manage, and scale your fitness studio.