Over the years, some of my most read articles have been essentially lists of key pieces of advice. Whether it be a list of mistakes to avoid or a collection of to-dos, it seems that fitness business owners love a good checklist.
Today I’ve asked for key pieces of wisdom from several members of my team and fellow leaders at ClubReady. These leaders have years of experience working with top industry brands like 9Round, UFC GYM, Club Pilates, pure barre, CycleBar, The Max Challenge, CKO, and many others! Several of them have also owned gyms, nutrition, and fitness consulting businesses. Here are their answers when asked, “What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a studio owner?” As you can see, it was nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one thing!
“Understand the tools available to you and how they can help your business. Choose the best ones for you and take the necessary time to learn how best to use them.”
Adam Faris, Director of Customer Success
“Actually be there, either physically or virtually. Look at reports that are at your fingertips. Keep an eye on your payroll. Understand that personal training sessions are like tiny piles of cash waiting to be stolen. Use your club management software’s tools to prevent fraud and develop processes to identify and prevent theft (weekly emails, calling/SMS members to verify sessions, review member data for missing/duplicate emails, fingerprint scanning, control permissions, expire sessions for relocation or medical cancels). Finally, stay in your wheelhouse. Most gym owners are FANTASTIC sales and fitness people. They tend to be HORRIBLE attorneys, accountants, and admin people. Get professional help where you lack experience BEFORE it’s a problem. ”
Judy Prince, Client Relationship Manager
“Hire a great manager if you cannot dedicate the time yourself. Develop a process and stick to it! Figure out your daily, weekly, and monthly marketing and internal tasks. Keep an eye on your draft reports to ensure all members are paying and follow-up when they don’t. Take the time to understand your local and state sales tax. Don’t assume anything when it comes to taxes! Find out for yourself what should be taxed and set up your sales packages and POS accordingly.”
Rick Pomygalski, Sr. Account Manager & Current Gym Owner
“There’s a fitness studio on every corner nowadays. People can get a good workout anywhere they go. Be better than just a good workout. Get to know your members, make a connection. Be authentic and humble. If you can give your members a great workout and they feel connected, they’ll come back.”
Fred Elias, Vice President of Business Development
“New fitness concepts hit the market frequently. Spend time identifying what makes your business different and then double down on that uniqueness. Partner with vendors that align with your vision and have a proven track record of supporting others in your space.”
Matt LaCaprucia, Sr. Account Manager
“Everything is marketing ... from the way your studio looks to how your employees act. Your current members are your best resource to get new members so take advantage of social media and reward programs.”
Marc Roeder, Client Relationship Manager, Xponential Brands
“Create a culture that shows you care about the experience of every member as well as the employees who support them. Know your members and focus on making the experience uniquely enjoyable for everyone.”
Walter Watson, Customer Service Manager, GYM HQ
“Pay attention to your payroll. Make sure that you have a well thought out compensation plan. Many new owners pull numbers out of the sky. It's not that simple. You should consider employee compensation as an investment in your business. Planning your strategy and developing the proper budget for compensation is essential to be able to recruit and retain talented employees that you will need to grow your studio.”
Stephanie Maddox, Sr. Manager, GYM HQ
“Success and for that matter, sales and retention, for a class-based business predominately hinge on the instructors who deliver the workout experience. From the psychology of handling new and prospective exercisers to the delivery of a workout experience that delights and retains members, the power is in their hands. The most successful store owners ensure a consistent class delivery, relentlessly engage and train their instructors as a critical piece of the member experience, and track class attendance and revenue metrics in their management software to help deliver class to class excellence.”
Chris Gallo, Vice President of Sales
“I believe with any business; it is important to understand all roles. An owner of a small business should take time to work all aspects of the business and get to know their tools inside and out. That means the equipment, the member management software (from the perspective of each position)...all of it. If you build a community within your gym, members will forgive the little things. Build the best overall experience for your members and staff. Training is also key for new staff members. Ensure they’re thoroughly trained on their position as well as your club management software.”
Brett Rowley, Client Relationship Manager
“Owners need to be hands-on in the studio and know how to run their business in every aspect. It is important they, as well as their teams, know and build a relationship with their clientele. For owners buying into a franchise, it’s also very important they utilize the tools, guidance, and best practice business operations they are provided by the franchisor.”
Kali Henderson, Director of leadSPEAK
If you’re picking up on a trend here, it all comes down to people and process! I’ll leave you with my two cents on the subject. Stay fluid and stay involved. Your ability to learn, pivot, and adapt is paramount. No process or person in business is forever. So, even if you have a great staff, don’t checkout. We ask our clients to be open to discomfort and embrace change. We must be willing to take our own advice.
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