Kelly Gray was raised in a small town where people were taught to “treat people right,” above all else. So while Gray was working his way through college as a personal trainer in Dallas, he saw some things at his gym he didn’t like — mainly, egotistical trainers, high prices and pushy salespeople who were focused on the numbers more than the members. So when the club went under and the space went up for leasing, Gray seized the opportunity.
“The challenge for me was time — it was just kind of dropped into my lap,” said Gray. “They were closing in three months so I had to move fast on it. And then finding the money, I was 25-years-old so I didn’t have any money and I didn’t have any family money either.”
As fortune would have it, Gray was already working on a business plan for a gym, which allowed him to secure a loan for his business. Once he had the funding, Gray set about remodeling the entire gym, called Trophy Fitness, so it looked completely different. He even bought all new equipment and hired all new people who he said actually cared about “real” customer service.
“Gyms always say, ‘We’re the best at customer service. We’re really clean and we know a few names,’” said Gray. “That’s not customer service — that’s just like turning the lights on. When I say customer service, I’m talking about every members’ personal experience.”
Gray said both he and his employees go above and beyond to make sure that members will fit into Trophy Fitness’ community. They take the time to learn who members are, how they fit in the community at large, how they fit in the gym and what they are there to accomplish.
Gray said he doesn’t want members who are only there to get big and be rude to others. “If they’re not friendly, or they’re not a nice person, or they don’t care about others around them, we know they’re not going to be a good fit because our clubs are smaller,” said Gray.
That goes for the employees as well. Gray said he has let quality trainers go before because they were too egotistical.
This focus on community has built Trophy Fitness a unique reputation, which has opened many doors for Gray. In fact, he has expanded from one club to a total of five in the Dallas area.
“Three of the five facilities that I have, have come from the developers themselves calling me directly,” said Gray. “They say, ‘Hey, we need a gym and we know you’re a good gym in the community,’ and we get calls like that pretty regularly.”
But this reputation isn’t just a marketing strategy for Gray. He takes his role in the community seriously. He said the gym will do anything it can to support other local businesses in the area. For example, Gray said his gyms will waive a new member’s first payment if they bring in three cans of food for the annual canned food drive.
Gray explained he plans to open another gym in the summer of 2015. It hasn’t been easy to maintain the high level of customer service at all five clubs, but moving forward he plans on sticking to his golden rule: Treat others right, and the rest will follow.
By Ethan Smith