The health club industry has changed drastically over the last 10 years and it will continue to change and evolve over the next several years. Unfortunately many health club owners have not kept up with the pace of change, and have found themselves with an outdated business model and little to no profits to show.
From new competitors with unique business models to an economy that has been unpredictable, the fitness industry is in a constant state of change. For your health club business to be successful in the future, you must be willing to pay attention to the changes taking place around you and adjust accordingly.
During this most recent recession, membership numbers nationwide were down. But, contrary to popular belief, the downturn in membership revenue has very little to do with the down economy. Many health clubs have experienced their most successful year ever in 2009, and have continued to see their profit line moving upward during the first quarter of 2010. Why have they succeeded while so many others have failed?
These health club owners have been willing to change.
Blaming the economy is so much easier than taking a stand, making some changes and getting aggressive with your marketing and operations. There are many club owners who will blame the economy or the increased competition or the layoffs at local businesses; but the fact remains more than ever, that people are still wanting and needing to get in shape.
People have money to spend and they just have to decide what is most important for them to spend it on. Is it more important to eat out one evening during the month, or should they instead choose a monthly health club membership for that same investment?
It is up to you to show them that you have what they need and that you offer the most value for the amount you’re asking them to invest.
Everything is constantly changing — the economy, your competitors, consumers and more. If you continue operating the same as you did last year, or you continue the same marketing strategies, or if you don’t continue readjusting your unique selling proposition (USP), you will slowly kill your business.
One of the most important adjustments you should make, or evaluate each year, is your USP. In today’s competitive fitness industry, you need an identity — know what you’re good at and be willing to tell the world about your club.
In addition to ensuring you have a strong USP, constantly evaluate your pricing structure, the range of services you provide, your profit centers, the needs of your members and the type of customer you prefer to serve.
You must be willing to constantly test and retest all of these things to find the perfect mix. When you find that perfect mix you need to test some more because the perfect mix is dynamic and constantly evolving.
The last thing you want to do is operate with a business model similar to that of your competitors. If you do, then the only thing your prospects can compare is price. No one wins in a price war. Even if you come out on top, you’re not going to have much of a business left. So why fight that battle? Make it easy on yourself and always stay a step or two ahead.
For your facility to stay relevant, you need to focus on one of three areas: Cost (be the low cost competitor), Convenience (offer 24-hour access) or Service (focus intensely on the results of your members). If you have not differentiated yourself in at least one of these areas, chances are good that your “all things to all people” approach will cause you to fail.
You should constantly be looking for ways to change your business to become more unique than, or superior to, your competitors. Sometimes that might require a drastic change and other times only small changes are necessary. You have to be aware of all things happening in your market and you have to be willing to adjust accordingly.
Curtis Mock is the host of www.FitnessBusinessTelevision.com the TV show for fitness entrepreneurs. He is also the executive director of gymsuccess.com. Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.