Fitness facilities generally involve a large amount of investment in the beginning and high maintenance costs throughout. On top of this, keeping up with the competition in terms of technology and training is another expense. Returns come much after this chunk of money is being fueled into the heart and soul of the business.
What this implies is that you must have a great start to break-even as soon as possible. Your facility deserves a huge opening so that people know that a lot of effort and money has been put into a project for their benefit. Here are some tips that may help you if you are in a similar situation.
Know When to Do What
Timing is very important. Timing here means choosing the opportune moment to open the fitness facility, as well as the timing of how to spread out your opening campaign over a few weeks or months in order for it to be cost and publicity effective. Now that we are through with the per-requisites, let us explore the possible options for you.
The Opening Date Makes a Difference
One thing to remember is to be remembered. You want the name of your fitness center to be the first people think of when they say "gym" or "health club.” An easy way to start on this road is to open your center on a day that is easy to remember.
An ideal time to open such a place is a fortnight before an important holiday. For example, open your doors about two weeks before Christmas. Before understanding the reasoning behind this fully, you must know that in business, small firms offer lower prices and then slowly increase them after they start getting customers.
By opening prior to an important festival, you may offer a generous discount, and mask the fact that you intend to increase your prices later. To the customer it will only seem like an excellent investment at the festival price, and they will expect the price to go up once the discount period is over without feeling cheated by quarterly increments in membership fees.
Make the Best Use of Technology
With gym management software, it is slightly easier for those opening their own franchises. Without coming to terms with technical advancements, you will put yourself under far more pressure when compared to your competitors. Having this slight edge in the beginning makes a large difference in the long run. It also helps to research and purchase such software well in advance and learn how to use it efficiently before you actually start the fitness center.
Take advantage of social media. Marketing on such platforms is growing for the sole reason that tons of people have access to these platforms. In this era, there are a lot more people stuck to their computers when compared to TVs.
This is a great opportunity for start-ups. Offline commercials cost a bomb compared to the minimal cost of social media marketing. Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to catch the attention of people. Also creating reputable profiles on LinkedIn and IdeaFit are important for your rapport and networking within the fitness community. No matter which social route you go, creating a buzz is important because in business, brand name and reputation is everything.
The timing for this way of advertising, however, is a little different. You can create a webpage or a Facebook profile page, but the talk on the Internet dies down fairly quickly. Either a few weeks before opening, or after, is probably the best time to make such a move.
Overhead Costs and Ways to Manage Labor
Account for error in all business transactions. Do not distribute your budget over so many or such expensive things that you manage your business to the last penny. Always keep room for some extra money outflow even when it is least expected. In case things do not go according to your plan, it is far better to prepare for such a situation in advance than to postpone your opening and lose some amount of credibility among your target customers.
Hire your trainers and helpers a few days in advance at the very least. Paying an extra few days’ worth of salary is still better than not having staff to show when you interact with your clientele. Make sure your front desk staff has excellent interpersonal and communication skills. First impressions are last impressions for some people.
Management on the other hand involves making sure that your employees are all synchronizing with you to impress people with your new gym. It is better to hire management a week or two before the opening of the gym. This will help you to train them and make them understand your goals better. The easiest way to make sure your employees help you fulfill your goals is to keep them genuinely happy, and to ensure that you are not too impersonal. The better your relationship with your workers, the better they are able to sell your service. This way you do not have to offer a commission on every customer they find, as they will do so voluntarily.
Offer Something Others Can’t
Product differentiation is the best market strategy, agreed upon by countless experts. For a start-up, this edge is what will define your brand. Perhaps offering "charter memberships" will make your first few customers feel extra-special by being actively a part of your foundation.
You may even consider some kind of training to specialize in, like a segment of Special Populations. Capitalize on the small differences, because it’s differences that people remember, not the similarities. Center your opening on your niche and use your opening ceremony as a platform for campaigning it.
Although differentiation is important, it is equally vital to keep in mind that your fitness center has high-quality equipment and professional trainers, and charges reasonable prices in comparison to your competitors. Remember that your business can function only as well as your equipment. Purchase these tools months in advance and have them tried and tested.
Try to Avoid Pomp
Although you have prepared very hard and long for this venture, and its opening, try to avoid showing it off. Instead, maintain professionalism and humility. People who come to gyms have the same motive – to become fit. If you can manage to impress them with your gym being a place for them to get fit, it is sufficient for your business.
If you wish to have something memorable, then do something unique. You may host competitions related to fitness, and give out free vouchers from your center as gifts to those who win. Even a chance to win a free membership for one person for a certain amount of time is a good investment.
Final Check and Hope for the Best
Do your best and forget the rest. Do a final checkup. Perhaps ask a friend, who is not a fitness maniac, how he finds the final setup and plan. Remember that this is just an extra vantage point from which you can assess your grand opening. Also, if you feel changes must be made, only make minor changes leading up to the opening day… do not venture to do something drastic.
It is completely natural to find faults in something you have created. Instead of having doubts, finish everything one or two days in advance, and make sure you relax during the next two days. You have probably waited very long for the opening day. An extra day or two for you to relax will only help you become a well rested and better host to your potential customers. Plus if your grand opening is a success, you will need the rest for your business growing pains!
For me personally, I never intended on owning a gym and thus, never prepared my schooling to do so. I did go to school to be a computer/software engineer and received my degree in that. Before I did decide to open my own gym, I started, owned and managed several other small businesses. So, I had a real crash course in business operations all around.
As with anything getting a education is important but also is being involved. The best course of action that you can take, other than getting a degree, is to immerse yourself within the fitness community…talk to as many people as possible, work for gyms, get direct access to other gym owners who can help mentor you, etc.
To start, continue to do exactly what you are doing now, ask questions. A great social site to continue with this is called IdeaFit! It is also a great resource for articles to research which courses you should take to become a certified personal trainer. There are so many different certifications out there! Narrow down what your passion is and then take it from there.
I wish you the best and much success!
How much schooling did you need before opening your gym? What other courses did you have to take before becoming a certified fitness trainer?
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