I have been part of the fitness industry since 1995. I am 41 years old, so that means I began my career at 22 years of age. At 32, I jumped on board with a little-known fitness franchise called Snap Fitness. There were 14 locations at the time, and by the time I was 37 years old, we had 1,100 open across the globe.
Most of my early days in this industry were spent as a membership salesperson and manager. The five years at Snap were basically a combination of classroom training and telephone coaching.
Since then, I have been my own boss, but am essentially doing the same thing I did at Snap Fitness: helping gym owners maximize profits. I’ve been in and out of all types of gyms these past four years: 90,000-foot gyms that have tennis and everything else, as well as 2,800-foot gyms that only offer functional training.
In the nine years that I have been a fitness business trainer, coach and consultant, I have seen a lot, met a lot of people and coached hundreds of gym owners. And no matter what type of gym I am working with, I tend to see the same three mistakes made over and over again.
1. Gym owners tend to make things harder than they need to be. This business is simple. However, for some reason, gym owners like to overthink. My job is easy as a consultant most of the time, because I simply get gym owners to focus on the basics: phone calls, tours, referrals, number tracking, marketing, personal training and leadership.
2. Gym owners tend to combine marketing and sales. “We sent out 5,000 mailers and didn’t get any members from it.” Did you get any phone calls, tours or e-mails? The purpose of marketing is to solicit a response. That is it. You aren’t selling a hard product, so you can’t advertise like the pizza guy or the electronics store guy. You have to advertise your services, entice people to come in and track responses. I have shown gyms that, in fact, their mail campaign was fairly effective, by getting them to track phone calls, tours and e-mails. Then, once they recognized that the problem was with the sales department, we took steps to correct the problem.
3. Gym owners tend to want to do things their own way. Listen, most entrepreneurs do what they want to do. They don’t have to take orders from some coffee-toting middle manager. Therefore, they tend to be more stubborn than your average person. After all, they’ve gotten to where they are now through hard work and determination. That is great, but everybody needs to learn from others, especially in an industry that has been changing and evolving at a fast rate, like ours. I am not saying that every gym owner needs to hire a consultant. Ninety-five percent of them should, however. This is not a pitch for my services. There are plenty of consultants and resources out there. Read books, go to a workshop and read blog posts. Every successful CEO in this country says the same thing: “It is not what you know that makes you successful, it’s asking the right people the right questions.”
Stick with this thought process, avoid these mistakes and you will set your business up to maximize profits. This business is not complicated. We focus on simple systems and follow them daily. Our marketing efforts are consistent and we measure responses to ads first, and then sales from those responses second. And once in a while we need an expert to coach us to ensure we are doing the things we need to do in order to maximize profits and change more lives.
Please send me an e-mail at email@example.com with the phrase “business review” to schedule a complimentary business review call.
Keep changing lives.
Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He graduated from Minnesota State University with a degree in public health and corporate wellness. He started working in the fitness industry in 1995. In 2005, Linse started with Snap Fitness at its headquarters, helping them grow from 14 locations to 1,100 locations by October 2010, when he left to start the Business of Fitness. Linse also owned a gym for two and a half years before becoming a consultant. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 612-310-1319. Visit www.jasonlinse.com.