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Fitness Factory Health Clubs has been a staple of the New Jersey fitness landscape since 1998. This full-service health club with a special emphasis on member retention and customer feedback has expanded steadily over the past 20 years, and now has its sights set on the Big Apple.
“We have five clubs in New Jersey, and we just signed for club number six, which is venturing into New York,” said Rich Scarpati, the owner of Fitness Factory Health Clubs. “We already have one club on the Hudson River — the Edgewater on the New Jersey side — and now we’ll have one on the New York side of the river.”
The first Fitness Factory location opened in Palisades Park, New Jersey. But it actually took some convincing for Rich to buy into the idea.
“Our first club, in Palisades Park, was a club my brother [Dennis] and I used to workout in,” said Rich. “Consequently, Dennis wound up buying that club and asked if I wanted to buy into the club, but I said I don’t do that stuff — I was a Wall Street guy. But we revisited the idea again three years later, and I was inbetween jobs and decided we could give it a try.”
Once the foundation was laid, the club quickly started experiencing noticeable success. “We were only on one floor starting out, then negotiated for the entire building,” said Rich. “After construction and renovations, our membership grew from around 500 people to 2,000 in a matter of eight to 10 weeks.”
But despite that early success, there were still significant challenges to overcome. While not nearly as densely populated as that other city across the Hudson, New Jersey still hosts an onslaught of competitors.
“In New Jersey competition has been fierce — it’s no joke,” said Rich. “It’s because of our population density and the amount of money people earn here. I think we have four of the top 10 highest income zip codes in the country in New Jersey.”
Facing heavy competition, putting together a quality, full-service gym was only possible through a team effort from Rich and his brother. The two work in tandem to make business decisions for their current clubs and for picking future locations.
“One of the keys to our success is having a real estate developer and real estate attorney,” said Rich. “He finds the land and creates a deal based on friendships he has in the community, and then I come in and build it.”
As we all know, a fancy building is far from the only key to success. At Fitness Factory, a special emphasis is placed on reaching out to prospective members and taking extra steps in retaining them.
“We use GymSales, which allows us to do the proper prospecting and contacting to get clients in the door,” said Rich. “Then we work on client retention from the day they’re onboarded by sending emails and making phone calls if they’re not coming enough.”
And the work doesn’t stop with member onboarding. Twenty years in the industry and many years working on Wall Street have taught Rich to always learn and adapt to changing client needs, recently leading to tweaks in Fitness Factory’s offerings.
“We’re making a diametric shift and putting layers in the membership where members have services a la carte to choose from,” said Rich. “Then a trainer in our club is responsible for the coaching, membership management and retention for that client.”
Fitness Factory treats its members as its foundation, asking for feedback from them and putting it into action regularly. This has been one of the most critical aspects to the success of Fitness Factory.
“Make sure you’re getting continual feedback from the customers, and improving yourself by making your customers part of the solution,” said Rich. “If you’re not different with a competitive edge, you might as well stay home.”