8 Profit Hacks For New Gym Owners

Profit. It’s not a dirty word. In fact, it’s what will keep your gym alive and thriving. Without it, you cannot pay coaches a fair salary nor reinvest in your facility.

Daniel Uyemura
Sep 12, 2018

5 minute read

8 hacks to focus on to boost your profitability.

As part of our financial exploration of a new gym, we have touched on startup expenses and ongoing expenses.  Today we’re going to talk about revenue.

Revenue is the top end of your path to profitability.  Profit is often thought of as a “dirty” word.  If you see it that way, try to change your mindset on that now.  Your goal, as a gym owner is noble:  to help your community become healthier and live more fulfilling lives.  Without revenue and profit, you will not be able to fulfill on this goal for very long.

8 Profit Hacks

Start off your business on the right foot by considering all of these simple tips to maximizing profit.  We have interviewed hundreds of start up gym owners just like you over the years, and here’s some things they had to say!

8. Prioritize Personal Training

You’ll likely be attracting inexperienced clients in your first year, and you’ll have lots of time on your hands because you won’t immediately have 200 members to train, so personal training is a great option. You can charge between $65 and $90 an hour for one-on-one training. Not only does this benefit the business financially, the client will also benefit from the one-on-one attention and through fostering a relationship with a coach.

Doing personal training with clients is also the best way to ensure clients stick around for the long haul (this is the topic for another article, but average client value (ACV)—determined by how much are they paying and how long they are sticking around—is ultimately one of the most important metrics that determines business success in the gym industry.

7. Start Small

From a small space to offering fewer classes than your instincts might tell you (remember your time is money), starting small is key for future financial success.  Cash flow will dictate your survivability in the critical early years.  If you start too big, either in rent or equipment start up costs, you will put a massive burden on your cash flow.

Ideally you can find a suitable location that has room to grow into; an under-rented business park for example.  Moving a gym is a massive pain, we’re not going to lie, but moving up as your needs grow is generally a smart business move.

Adding Features

As humans, we love it when we’re given more.  If you give you clients everything from day one, you have less to give them down the road.

For example,  start business without Sunday classes. It will give you a day off, and isn’t something potential clients won’t join your gym over.  It will also save you money operationally.  Then, as you client base grows, open a Sunday class.  This will actually be received very positively as you’re making their existing memberships more valuable.

6. Create A “Founders Club”

Absolutely create a Founders Club and follow the instructions in our Founders Club Sales Guide.

DO NOT offer discounts to your initial members.

Though it’s tempting, any owner who has been around for more than five years has found himself in a pickle:

Too many clients aren’t paying enough money.

After you have grown your business, your costs will be much higher and the service you’re offering will be more complete.  If you grandfather your rates, you will be crippling your cash flow and be forced to try to find more clients to offset the difference.

Don’t Be Afraid To Raise Rates

As you grow your business and services, make sure to increase your membership dues accordingly – and don’t be afraid to raise rates.   You will lose a small percentage of clients (less than you fear, we’re certain), but the revenue offset will generally more than make up for it.

We’ve built a handy spreadsheet you can download to figure out the economics of a price increase.  Give it a try, you’ll be amazed how good the numbers look.

Download The Rate Increase Worksheet

Download our handy calculator now and see how a rate increase will affect your business. (Trust us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised)

Give Me The Worksheet!

5. Charge For Extras

From individual programming to athletic tape to nutrition consulting to bottles of water, don’t give away things for free. People only expect to receive additional things for free if that’s the standard you set from Day 1. If they have to pay for tape from Day 1, they will. Happily. However, taking something away later causes an entitled ruckus no owner wants to deal with.

4. Don’t Pay Coaches Hourly

“What? How am I supposed to pay them?” you ask.

Percentage Based Full Time Coaches

When you’re ready to develop a full-time coach, compensate them based on a percentage of revenue, as opposed to by-the-hour.  Fitness is a service based business, and employees compensated hourly are not incentivized (nor rewarded) for SERVICE.

Doing so will create an environment that’s better for the coach, and better for the client.  Generally speaking, when you solve those two ends of the equation, the end result is better for the business.

Per Check-In Pay Part Time Coaches

Another option is paying your coaches a base hourly wage, usually pegged to minimum wage and offer them a per-class check-in bonus.

The Per Check-In Model does two key things:

  1. It incentivizes the coach to grow and retain members going to their classes.
  2. It gives coaches a reason to make sure every client has an amazing experience, every class.

The goal of this model is to have a stable, average class size that maximizes the floorspace usage across all hours of the day.  It will do this, while minimizing your risk and keeping a stable profit margin for hours that are still being developed.

Base Pay: $10/class
Per Check-In: $1.50

If your coach can grow a class to 15 members, they will receive $10 + $22.50 = $32.50 per class.

3. Don’t Give Away Your Expertise

So many fitness gym owners are worried about “how many members do I have”, and they don’t focus on the more important metric – Average Client Value (ACV).  (Read more about key metrics here).

The lower your ACV, the more members you have to get.  Often, once owners are worried about getting more members, they slash rates or offer deep discounts.  This can become a vicious cycle you won’t be able to easily escape once you start it.

Never give away your expertise.  You have taken a lot of time and energy to become a professional fitness coach, value it.  We discourage discounts of any kind, in general, with the exception of corporate discounts under certain circumstances.

Stay clear of things that look or feel like:

  • Groupons.
  • Free Trial Periods (beyond a couple days)
  • Cut Rate Fundamentals/Beginner Packages

Two Types Of Clientele

There are two types of shoppers in the world:

  1. Quality Conscience Shoppers.  These are people who want the best item or service they can afford.
  2. Price Conscience Shoppers.  These are people who want the cheapest item or service they can tolerate.

You want clientele #1.  Charge a fair rate and deliver beyond their expectations.

2. Take a sales training course

Whether you like it or not, you’re in sales now. Why not get good at it?

People often associate sales with a “dirty” profession.  In reality, if you take a legit sales training course, you’ll come to find that sales is really nothing more than listening to someone’s situation and helping them make a decision.

And “no” is ok if their situation does not apply to your service.  

Design A Sales Funnel

Taking a sales training course will get you much more comfortable with the sales process, and might even help you design a proper sales funnel.  If you don’t have a process in place to track, communicate, discuss and close a lead, you will be losing clients before you even get them.

Luckily for PushPress clients, we have a sales funnel built right into the platform!

1. Hire a Business Mentor

This is the absolute number one piece of advice we can give you. Every good business person has a mentor, even the mentors themselves.

It’s been scientifically proven that the more you understand about something, the more you understand you know very little.  Conversely, those with very little aptitude for something tend to think they know the subject very well.

Gym business coaches have the benefit of years of practice and the experience of hundreds of other gyms who have gone before you.  They will keep you far clear of repeating common mistakes which will cost you money (and worse, time).

Do some research on business coaches that fit into your niche of fitness, and if you need some direction feel free to ask us for referrals!

Are you ready for the next step? 

If you need a gym management system that will help you find profitability in your gym, register your free account here

PushPress is a gym management software that is here to help you grow your fitness facility. With PushPress, you'll be able to manage classes and privates, take payments, track attendance, manage leads, and maintain member relationships all from the palm of your hand!

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