If you own a small gym, you probably know about taking on the heavy burden of capital investment and leasing your venue and equipment. It’ll keep you awake at night when you’re signing the checks, believe me! Like all small business owners, you really need to look at every possible way to bump up the value of foot traffic entering and leaving your gym.
One effective way to do that is to sell retail items at the front desk or at a cash register in the foyer or lobby. What will people buy? It may take you some research and trial and error but most likely it’s items related to gym activities, gym wear and sports nutrition and snacks.
Small Sales Every Day Add Up Quickly
Gym products, like towels, padlocks, gym bags, weight lifting gloves and straps, and so on, sell on impulse and members often appreciate the convenience. Having displays of products to tempt people with high price mark-ups can make a big difference on your bottom line.
Do you give away branded promotional products? Always make sure that you have items from your offers on display for sale because it emphasizes the value in your promotional give-away. For training related products you can establish a commission system so that training staff is incentivized to encourage purchases.
On the other hand, you’ll have capital tied up in inventory. If it stays sitting on the shelf for extended periods, it’s not earning any return. The longer it sits, the more likely it will be damaged or shoplifted. Having any quantity of inventory within hands reach means someone will try it, no matter how closely you watch. If you have an unattended 24-hour gym, you have to lock everything up when the staff goes home.
What about collecting sales tax? Depending on your location, you may have to collect tax on sales. In states where only physical products are taxed and not services, you may want to stop and think about the added complexity of accounting for tax collection.
● High mark-up items can help with your profit margins
● Convenience for members
● Offering branded items reinforces value
● Commissions incentives for staff
● Cost of carrying inventory
● Display space
● Losses due to damage and theft
● Sales taxes
● Securing unattended inventory
Vending machines can be a great way to generate revenue and provide a convenience to hungry and thirsty members. Also you can stock accessories that can be turned over for a very high markup. Vending machines are secure, which means that they can be available 24 hours a day. As long as you lock up any stored inventory, they are resistant to loss by theft.
The most effective way to have vending machines in your gym is leasing from a service that charges a flat fee and lets you keep the income from the machines. You pay for a monthly lease and the servicing and the vending company does restocking.
● Low maintenance
● Member convenience
● Unattended selling, 24/7
● Can be contracted for service and stocking
● Inventory cost
● Service and leasing cost
● Inventory limited by size and shape
Make sure any 24-hour access vending machines are well secured; you don’t want a frustrated member tipping a one ton steel box over on themselves, late at night, because their purchase got hung up.
Mixing It Up
You might decide to take on both a display area and vending machines. Of course, that depends on how much space you can spare and what you think both approaches will draw in income.
● Get the best of both worlds
● Wider range of products
● Commissioned sales potential and overnight convenience
● All the problems of both
● Loss of floor space
When you are just starting out you might want to hold off. There may be less tax issues (in certain states) and less time orchestrating operations. If you’ve automated as many functions as possible, through your gym management software system, you want to be as focused as possible on providing an effective and efficient, no frills service.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a growing business you need to be maximizing your revenue sources. Your overhead cost will be growing and you need to offset the expense. You will be grateful of late night, high mark-up vending machine sales, and floor sales commission incentives for your trainers. It’s all part of making your business grow.
Over to you…
What are other pros and cons of adding retail and/or vending machines to your fitness business?