The fitness industry is a tough, competitive market. However, building a successful gym is entirely possible with the right strategy, systems and support. From the very start, everything should be well thought-out and intentional. If you want that “started from the bottom, now we here” story, create a solid plan for everything from equipment to staff, location and marketing.
Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes along the way. You can view these as an opportunity to learn and your gym will thrive in the long run.
Here are some proven tips for building and running a successful gym:
Avoid The Common Start-Up Mistakes.
There are three common - and costly - mistakes that gym owners often make when launching their fitness business:
- Being overly-optimistic as to how easily success is achieved. The comparison game is real and deceptive. Gym owners often see the success of other gyms and assume it was a smooth path to get there. Remember, being a fitness fanatic doesn’t make someone a good gym owner. It takes great management, experience and familiarity with the nuances of business.
- Purchasing the wrong equipment. This can go one of two ways: Gym owners try to save money by purchasing sub-par equipment or they purchase entirely too much equipment for the beginning stages of their fitness business. Either one will be extremely costly in the long run. Cheap equipment can compromise safety and too much equipment can rack up debt that could take years to recoup.
- Hiring the wrong staff. Your gym’s reputation depends heavily on the quality of your personnel. After all, these are the people who will have the most interaction with your members. A lack of professionalism from your team will make it difficult for clients to find you credible or attach themselves to your brand. Hire a rockstar team that shares your values and ethics from the start.
Differentiate Your Gym.
If you want to build a successful gym, you have to stand out. Start by clearly defining your mission statement and your vision statement. Be strategic, creative and true to your values. Provide surprisingly-exceptional service.
Listen to feedback from your customers and implement it, only if it’s in line with your mission/vision. If not, make sure they know their input was heard and that you care.
In regards to differentiating your gym from your competition, there are two schools of thought: First, you can choose to pay attention to what they’re doing with the intent of doing it better. Second, you can pay no mind to what your competition is doing. You have your strategy, and none of it is dependent on their successes or failures.
Community is a game changer. First, establish solid relationships with your clients by being visible and available. Share your story and learn your gym members’ stories. Make sure to convey the fact that you care about their fitness journey.
Second, get members connected. The people in your gym share a common goal of living a healthy lifestyle, but what else might they have in common? Host community events and create small groups around people’s interests and hobbies. Create online groups for people to ask questions and support one another.
Also, community isn’t limited to the people in your gym. Whenever possible, find creative ways to get involved in the neighborhoods around your gym. Partner with other local businesses to build relationships and gain visibility. Offer wellness-related workshops for nutrition, mobility, mental health, etc.
A Successful Gym Makes Everything Easy.
From the moment someone checks out your website until they’ve been a long-term member, your goal should be to make things simple and seamless for them.
Design a website that’s easy to navigate. Automate your lead generation and member-retention tasks. Make it ridiculously simple for people to sign up for classes or track their workouts.
Running a successful gym doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The right gym management software can essentially do all of these things for you.
Provide The Best Member Experience.
At PushPress, we talk a lot about building the best member experience. Every day, you have the opportunity to wow your members and leads. Every gym has equipment and classes. Make your gym the one that focuses on the experience.
Here are a few tips:
- Provide accountability to help members achieve goals.
- Celebrate member milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, PRs, etc.)
- Offer fun challenges and incentives for added motivation.
- Create a solid referral program so people will spread the word about your gym.
- Sell cool merchandise so members can proudly rep your brand.
Get The Word Out.
Once you’ve worked hard to build a successful gym, it’s time to let people know you’re here. Having the greatest gym in the world means nothing if people don’t know it exists. When it comes to marketing, there’s no magic pill. Devise a strategy based on your gym’s specific target audience and market.
Some fitness businesses choose to pay for advertising. Others get creative with their social media. Some prefer to host events like fundraisers or partner with other local businesses.
No matter which marketing avenues you choose, tie them all together with a strategy and find ways to keep it consistent. When you find things that work, stick with them. Then continue searching for new and innovative ways to get the word out.
In Summary: Start With The Basics. Put In The Effort.
Fitness business success is earned. In a competitive fitness business landscape, there are a number of ways to set yourself up for success. Start with the business itself: Equipment, staff, operations. Then focus on community and truly connecting with your members. From there, spread the word through marketing and advertising efforts. Putting forth the effort with these pieces of the puzzle will give you the opportunity to build a successful gym business.