Opening a gym is an exciting experience. After all, what could be better than combining what you love to do (work out) with your career? Even if you have past business experience, how to open a gym is serious business.  Whether it’s a small gym, personal training studio, or a large fitness facility, the following seven lessons will set you up for a successful start-up. Check out the Alloy Article in the News! North Fulton Herald 

7 Key Lessons About Opening a Gym

1. Have a Plan for Generating Leads

Opening a gym is not an “if you build it, they will come” situation. Instead, you must have a business plan for how to get people through the door. The following lead generation techniques are especially productive for gyms and fitness centers:

  • A branded website and mobile app
  • A strong referral program
  • Social media marketing 
  • A system for collecting ratings, reviews, and testimonials
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Podcasts or video content
  • Integration with a lead tracking and management tool 

The exact path to lead generation you choose depends on your gym and priorities. Regardless, know where you want to go if you ever plan to get there. 

2. Know your Costs

The fastest way to sink a new enterprise is to go in with no budget. Instead of taking a “spray and pray” approach to your new gym’s finances, know your costs and have a plan for keeping them under control. Knowing your costs means including things like:

  • Marketing
  • Employee onboarding and training
  • Equipment and materials
  • Insurance and licenses
  • Employee salaries
  • And more

If you’re opening a franchise, you’ll also have to factor in the start-up cost of the operation, and any ongoing royalties or fees you’ll pay for the business. 

3. Differentiate with Specialized Services

Did you know that there were 41,370 gyms in the United States in 2019? If you want to stand out from the crowd, differentiate yourself and your services. Offer specialized services that cater to a niche of fitness enthusiasts – the way SoulCycle has done, for example.

Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, we laser focus on our niche and provide the best possible content, materials, and workouts for them. It’s what’s made us such a strong company, and the reason so many other gyms want to emulate our business model. To put it another way: find out what you’re the best at and stick with that. 

4. Have Systems and a Plan

Even if you’ve worked in the fitness industry before, every gym is different, and every gym needs a location-specific business plan. For more information, listen to the Alloy Keys to a Successful Startup podcast to help with your business plan  In addition to knowing how you plan to generate leads, you need to know what your target first-year profits are, who your biggest competitors will be, what your target customers care about and are looking for, and how you plan to keep your new gym’s internal operations consistent and reliable.

One reason so many people choose to open a franchise is that all of this is taken care of for you from the start.  If you open a franchise with a company like Alloy, for example, we provide you with comprehensive business plans, procedures, business and lead systems, marketing materials, hiring and onboarding handbooks, and everything else you need to get your business off the ground smoothly.

5. Have a Retention Strategy 

Once you earn a customer, how do you plan to keep that customer? How do you plan to re-engage that customer and ensure they become a strong referral source for your business? While most new companies focus on lead generation, lead retention is exactly important – if not more so. Here are a few customer retention stats to consider: 

  • Right now, U.S. companies lose $136.8 billion each year due customer cancellation and switching brands. 
  • 33% of Americans will switch companies after a single instance of poor customer service.
  • 80% of customers say speed, convenience, friendly service, and knowledgeable help are the most important elements of positive customer service. 
  • Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive a poor customer service interaction, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering.

As you can see, customer retention pays off. Have a plan for how to keep your customers coming back in the beginning and for the long run of your business.

Also, check out Why Alloy Excels in Client Retention and how Alloy achieves the following metrics with their client retention tool – accountability sessions.

  • Alloy has a 97% client retention rate per month, which is 17 points better than any other fitness studio model.
  • Alloy’s has a 36 month average client lifespan.

6. Execute on Pre-Sales

The pre-sales process is the assortment of activities that take place before a sale is carried out. In a startup, it is important to begin before the gym facility is even open.  While it’s commonly overlooked, executing on pre-sale activities is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for opening day. According to TallyfySouping up the presales engine can yield a five-point improvement in conversion rates, a 6–13% improvement in revenue, and a 10–20% improvement in the speed of moving prospects through the sales process.” 

An example of effective pre-sales activity? Open a 3D virtual tour of your gym before the physical space becomes available. Customers will be able to “tour” the facility and get excited about opening day.

7. Commit to Marketing

Last but not least, you need to make a conscious commitment to focus on world-class marketing. While it’s easy to ride the bare minimum of marketing and stop as soon as you see some results, pushing further will have massive benefits for your business over the long-term. Here is how Alloy can help start you off right with a How to Create a Marketing Budget for a Fitness Business. 

Focus on things like creating professional, highly tailored content, publishing a great blog, creating a professional-looking website and social media presence, and engaging customers with an assortment of live and pre-recorded videos. In the post-COVID-19 world, marketing is more important than ever

Ready to Hit the Ground Running with an Alloy Franchise?

Alloy can help get you started off on the right track. Check out our podcast on the 5 Keys to a successful Small Business Startup with tips on business plans.  Want to fast-track your way to a successful fitness franchise? Alloy offers a proven fitness franchise model and the best out-of-the-box marketing, team development and franchise launch support in the business.  Alloy helps entrepreneurs grow their dreams of being a business owner while helping to move the fitness industry forward. Learn more now

Author: Rick Mayo 

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