Top 10 Tips to Opening a Gym Smoothly

by | Oct 10, 2018

6 minute read
Keeping certain things in mind from the get-go will help you get your gym up and running smoothly in no time.  Read on for 10 things to focus on as you get going.

Any independent gym owner knows opening a gym—while simple-sounding in theory—is anything but easy and straightforward.

While you may have already accepted that your near future as a gym owner is going to be full of long hours, it doesn’t need to be full of unnecessary frustration and stress too.

Alas, our 10 best tips to make starting your business as smooth as possible:

Are You Opening A Gym?

Save yourself time, money and headaches.   Talk to one of our specialists today to see how PushPress can help make your ownership experience simpler and more rewarding.

10. Systems, Systems, Systems

If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants, ‘sell it now build it later’ kind of person, you might struggle with this one.   Experienced gym owners reiterate the importance of creating structure and systems right away for absolutely everything you do.

From billing to attendance to programming to social media to keeping your gym clean, set up structures, and rely on software where you can—this is where we come in at Push Press—to keep everything organized.

9. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

On a similar note, understand and keep track of important business metrics right off the top.  Luckily for PushPress clients, we track and present key metrics for you, automatically.

Some important metrics to know include:

  • Monthly revenue
  • Monthly expenses
  • Monthly profit
  • Percentage of revenue generated from group classes versus fundamentals versus personal training versus specialty programs versus merchandise sales etc…
  • Average Client Value (ACV) (how much does the average client pay to your business for the duration of the time they’re a member?)
  • Average client attendance
  • Churn rate/retention

For example, very few gym owners know what percentage of their clients stick around for more or less than six months.

Being aware (and having systems) that allow you to keep track of all your important business metrics will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not working. It will also allow you to see what improves or what doesn’t improve when you make changes to different processes in your business.

Not keeping track of and paying attention to key metrics of your business means your decision-making will be like target shooting blindfolded.

8. Hire A Mentor

Every millionaire has a mentor.

— Chris Cooper, Two-Brain Business

Why try to invent the wheel on your own? Though you might be looking to save money when you first open, it’s only going to save you money down the road if you take the time to work with an experienced mentor, or hire a gym consulting company—such as the MadLab Group  or Two-Brain Business—that you feel you connect well with to help you find ways to be more successful and avoid making mistakes that will cost you more in the long run.

7. Don't Be A Discount Gym

It’s tempting to give discounts in the early days to get people through the doors but experienced owners warn against this.

This includes giving discounts to family and friends. Discounts establish your culture as the discount gym that lacks quality. Further, people start to expect discounts—they start feeling entitled to getting a reduced rate—and are less likely to value the high-quality service and culture you’re trying to create.

Finally, in the long run, discounts will deeply affect your cash flow in future years.  Your business needs to operate with enough revenue to pay coaches and staff AND YOU with a living wage.

6. Don't Grandfather Rates

Grandfathering your early members’ rates always feels like a good way to show them you appreciate their business and their loyalty.  The problem with this is as the years go by, your expenses won’t be grandfathered. 

Since many aspects of your business are capped (floor space, equipment, coaching time, and class hours for instance), you will be handcuffing your business.

This serves nobody well. Though you don’t need to necessarily increase rates every year, establish a culture where people are aware rates are subject to annual increases depending on inflation, the service you provide, as well as your business costs.

5. Take Sales Training

Whether you like it or not, you’re now a salesperson.

Though you might cringe at the thought, sales training can help you understand you’re not, in fact, a slimy salesperson selling some useless gadget.  Attending a sales training course will help you realize sales does not have to be disingenuous.

Good sales training will show you that sales is nothing more than helping someone make a decision about a problem they have and a “no” is OK.  

“Taking Greg Mack’s Sales course helped me really understand the beauty of sales” said Chris McConachie, founder of PushPress.  “I was really afraid to sell before because I personalized rejection and I did not want to be seen as a typical salesman.  But after that course I realized I could help guide someone to a decision, ethically.”

Greg Mack is a lifelong fitness professional. Although, he no longer does in person sales training, he is selling his sales course via DVD still.  Optionally, the Sandler Sales Training is another popular and great option!

4. Coach Development Process

When it comes time to hire a coach, have a plan in place. Should your hire from inside the gym or outside? Are you looking to develop part-time coaches, full-time coaches, career coaches? Should you pay them by-the-hour, per class, or as a percentage of revenue? What are your expectations of them and them of you? And on and on.

Like the first tip—systems, systems, systems—it’s best to outline exactly what your coach development process will look like. Your best bet is, once again, is to speak with your business consulting mentor to help you figure this one out, and to get insights into best practices when it comes to hiring and developing coaches. .

3. Be Ready To Be Resilient

You’re going to lose clients. You’re going to lose clients you love. You’re going to lose coaches you love. People will let you down. Accept it and it hurts less when it happens. Be resilient and don’t take it personally.

Remember, you’re in business, and it’s not all going to be rosy – so plod on through the challenges!

2. Know What You Know (And Don't)

This can mean a lot of things, but essentially it’s worthwhile to cater to your strengths and consider contracting out tasks you’re inefficient at if it’s not worth the time and effort to master the task yourself.

If you aren’t passionate about group class programming, there are tons of programming services around that do a great job. Thrivestry is one (https://thrivestry.simplero.com/) and Linchpin (www.crossfitlinchpin.com) is another.

Similarly, if you’re not into writing or it takes you four hours to write 100 words, consider hiring a writer to blog for you (or at the very least, a proofreader). The same is true when you start hiring any staff members or coaches: Know their strengths and weaknesses and work around them in a way that helps all parties involved.

1. Golden Rule: It has to work for everyone

The absolute number one tip we can offer when making any business decision is:

It needs to work for the business, the coach and the client.

Before you make any type of change, consider how it will affect each party involved.

Should you add a class?
Take away a class?
Should you offer discounts?
Should you do personal training or group fundamentals?
Should you charge more for individual programming?

If you’re not sure, talk to others who have walked in your shoes—and again, rely on a trusted mentor—who can shed a light on each unique situation.

Some issues might not be apparent in how they can affect all three parties.  Take raising rates for example.  Without much thought it’s easily deducible that it would not help the client to make them pay more.  However, if the money raised from a rate increase buys new equipment and opens a new ongoing class slot, there’s an argument that it can improve things for the clients.

Planning a new gym, yoga studio, or martial arts facility?
This article appears as part of our Definitive Gym Startup Guide as a resource for everyone who’s planning to start a new .
For more information and a ton more tips, tricks, hacks, and concepts make sure to read thru the whole guide.