Ask an Expert: Melissa Sowell on Growth Strategy

Melissa Sowell

You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Melissa Sowell, the chief administration officer for Chuze Fitness, about growth strategy.

CS: In 2017, how many clubs did Chuze Fitness grow by? What is the plan for Chuze Fitness in 2018?

MS: At the end of 2017 Chuze Fitness opened three new locations, with another two under construction. This year, we are actively pursuing new locations in our existing markets.

CS: What have been some of the challenges in Chuze Fitness’ growth, and how are you overcoming those challenges?

MS: Some of this advice may seem simple, but the fact is mastering the basics is a key to growth. Failing or overlooking any of these issues can cause major headaches and impede your company’s growth in the long run.

For example, the biggest challenge is finding the right real estate fit for our model. Issues include: demographics of the area; space size and parking field; building issues that could become barriers, such as structure or seismic issues; and governmental challenges, such as zoning and fees.

Once we determine a location is feasible — the location, demographics and size are right — we do an in-depth review of the building and the governing jurisdiction to determine if the build out and costs will fit our budget. Overcoming these challenges takes perseverance, but we keep pressing.

CS: Why is it important for clubs to ensure they’re not growing too fast?

MS: Growing too fast can have an impact on your culture and impede delivering a great member experience. Training and learning take time, so when a site is being considered, we look at the time frames for the build-out to ensure we have plenty of time to hire and train staff appropriately. The sooner you start this process the better.

CS: Why does Chuze Fitness excel at growth?

MS: We have succeeded at growing due to: our culture; our willingness to not grow at a pace that could be reckless to our culture; our detailed review of all aspects of a location; and our willingness to walk away from a site that does not fit. These are all qualities that have allowed us to grow, and grow successfully.

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