The Courage to Change
Over $1 million later, Global Fitness and Racquet Centre in Kelowna, Canada, had upgraded its equipment, its size and even its roof. But the renovations didn’t come immediately.
“The business that used to be in the building had been failing,” explained owner W. Brett Wilson. But the actual structure at the location had been attractive, securing his desire to start the club in that spot.
For the first five years of Global Fitness’ life, Wilson was a part owner. Having dabbled and invested in hundreds of businesses, this was the one and only club he owned. In 2005, Wilson became the full owner, with partners. Then around 2012, he bought out his partners and began to water and grow Global Fitness through renovations of his own vision.
“The benefit of not owning other clubs is you’re not encumbered by other clubs,” explained Wilson, as he spoke of his ability to solely focus on Global Fitness. “I’m delighted because the club is evolving and we are doing things never done before.”
Besides the physical changes to Global Fitness, Wilson also transformed the club’s programs, including the tennis program. He said the tennis membership had been suffering from a sense of entitlement by some of its members — courts were being monopolized and the price of dues was too low to do much good. So, Wilson said after a year of thinking about the change, he took the plunge.
The tennis community changed from a large, grumpy crowd to a smaller and more delightful group. Wilson said he lost a third of his members by increasing the cost, but in the end he boosted the overall yield and improved the experience.
“It was time to do what was fair and equitable,” said Wilson, stating the increased monthly yield went back into the tennis program. He said many of the members saw that it truly was fair.
At Global Fitness, the club is “redefining success,” said Wilson. However, that can come with hard decisions, like revamping the tennis membership or expanding to incorporate new ranges of ages and offerings Global Fitness had not catered to before. But, in the end Wilson said he had to find courage and he had to be willing to make mistakes — advice he would pass on to other gyms. “I am still making mistakes,” he said. “However, I am honest and transparent, and when we were going through changes, I told the membership the truth.”
By Heather Hartmann