Coach a client. Coach a class. Clean the gym. Answer 10 e-mails. Apply for a sign permit with the City. Write a blog. Post on social media. Finish payroll. Sales. Marketing business development. Coach development. And on and on with no sight of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...If you’re a small gym owner, you probably wear all of the hats. Do all of the things. Put out all of the fires. It can be overwhelming at the best of times, and even more overwhelming to try to figure out how to prioritize your time. Other than avoiding having children and a social life, and maybe even letting your personal hygiene slip a bit, what can you do to maximize your time, and even maybe reclaim some time here and there so you have time to, let’s say, shower?
Here are the top six tips busy gym owners gave us to help you maximize your time:
1. Create a Schedule
As hard as it can be to create a rigid schedule—as unexpected tasks are always going to pop up when you’re a business owner—gym owners say it’s useful to at the very least create a loose schedule. For example, choose to devote one day each week to a different aspect of the business. For example: Monday: Business development tasks Tuesday: Marketing and social media tasks Wednesday: Administrative tasks Thursday: Coach development tasks Friday: Client management tasks When doing this, it’s important to be realistic with how much you can accomplish each day. When you’re feeling the pressure, it’s easy to commit to too much, so make sure you write everything down and include an estimate of how long each task will take, so you can determine whether your ‘to do’ list on Monday is really even remotely realistic.
2. Consider Your Productive Times of Day
We have all heard of night owls or early birds—the idea being some people function better at night and others in the morning. Going a step further, there’s research that shows there are actually four different types of people, categorized as either wolves, lions, bears or dolphins. You can read more here, but basically it suggests some of us are more productive at different times of the day, so we should plan our schedules around our most effective hours. This isn’t to say you can’t do work when you’re not feeling 100% energized. It just means that if you know you function best between 7am and 11am, or between noon and 3pm, schedule your more mentally challenging tasks during these hours of the day. Leave the more mindless tasks to your less energetic times.
3. Don’t Overload One Part of Your Brain
On a similar note, some type of work takes more mental or physical energy than others, so it’s important not to over tax yourself in one area each day. If you know spending three hours on marketing tasks is exhausting for you mentally, then schedule a workout right after the marketing block to re-energize yourself, as opposed to scheduling a brainstorming meeting with your coaches that you will have no emotional juice for.Just like you probably don’t program 100 pull-ups two days in a row, don’t schedule back to back activities that will leave you more tired and less productive than you need to be.
4. Create Systems for Everything
Whether it's your client intake process, your coach development process, programming, social media or payroll, it’s important to create functional, rigid systems you can rely on to keep you organized and help you be more efficient. When it comes to client management and website integration, for example, this is where we come in. We’ll provide you effective systems to efficiently manage your clients saving you tons of time and headaches. For example, an attendance report is a much more efficient (and accurate) way to figure out who needs a text message because he/she hasn’t come to the gym in a week than asking all your coaches when the last time was they have seen the following 10 clients.
“Invest your time in building systems and protocol. Then you can rely on people other than yourself (software like PushPress) to carry out your work for you in a replicable way with expected results,” offered Dan Uyemura, former owner of Torrance Training Lab and PushPress CEO.
And then take the time to lay out your systems in a way that future coaches will be able to be easily trained.
“Spend the time upfront to document your onboarding tasks (and) processes for new staff hires, regardless of if you think you will hire a lot of staff in the future,” offered PushPress Founder Chris McConachie.
“If you don’t professionalize and systemize, you won’t be able to effectively hire people to run major aspects of your gym with you. If you can’t hire help, you’ve bought yourself a really demanding job, and the likelihood you’ll grow your business to a point of great financial success is very low."
5. Prioritize Revenue Generator Endeavors
This pro tip comes from gym business expert Tim Lyons, the owner of Pulse Fitness (Article) in Arizona and CEO of ProFit Marketing Solutions, a gym consulting company.
“I always prioritize the income-producing activities first on my list when I have a ton of things to do for the day,” he said.
Lyons admitted learned this the hard way.
“When I think back to the days when I was in the trenches, I had more days that I care to admit that I was busy all day and nothing got done. The things I would find myself doing were things like designing graphics, creating marketing campaigns, working on the website and running to get supplies. All of these things should have been outsourced or passed off,” he said.
6. Outsource Your Weaknesses
Speaking of outsourcing weaknesses, the trade laws of economics are onto something: Specialize in what you do best. If you don’t do it well, let someone else do it. The same is true of your coaches: Give people jobs that cater to their strengths, that will best serve their lives and your business. And while you might not have the budget to outsource everything, it’s worth considering outsourcing tasks you’re not efficient at—like if it takes you four hours to write a blog, consider hiring a writer—as well as tasks you tend to procrastinate. Or at the very least, hire someone part-time to do the “busy work”—the stuff that needs to get done but that anyone can ultimately be trained to do.
“Hire out the less expensive jobs that are a time suck," offered McConachie, adding cleaning the gym and programming as two examples.
To sum up: Create a schedule where you consider what hours of the day you’re most effective, and set it up in a practical way that doesn’t exhaust one part of your body or brain. Create systems for everything, and when you still have too much on your plate, prioritize the tasks that will make you money and outsource the tasks someone else could do better, or faster, than you.