Expansions by larger franchises are common in the fitness industry — less common is a startup club carving out its own niche and establishing sustainable success in a crowded market.
A myriad of challenges faces any owner starting a club or studio from scratch, and while they can seem overwhelming at first, there are several good habits a startup club owner can establish early to build up their exposure and membership base.
Crystal Reynolds, owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club in Concord, New Hampshire, has experienced her share of challenges in owning a startup club. “At 16 months in, we still view ourselves as in startup mode with a lot of work still to be done,” she said. “But we have learned a lot in that time.”
After roughly a year and a half in business, Reynolds has learned several lessons that will benefit any owner who is new to operating a health club:
- Hire all-star, authentic team members who are motivated to create a movement in your market.
- Hire educated, professional, nationally certified and experienced team members who truly care about making a positive difference in people’s lives.
- Use all available external resources, including industry leaders, to shorten the learning curve and accelerate results.
- Always listen to your members and evolve. Your membership is a living, breathing entity.
- Network and promote constantly. For example: give out class passes or supply reusable grocery bags at local venues, like a farmer’s market.
- Host complimentary teambuilding group classes for local non-profits and athletic teams.
- Lead pre-race warm-ups and hype up the club at all events possible.
- Create in-club foot traffic through all possible means.
The most important tip Reynolds could share, however, is to stay the course, no matter what ups and downs you face. “Stay positive, stay focused, create a well-defined strategy and commit to it,” she said.