8 Fatal Mistakes Gym Owners Make

October 01, 2019

Hi there, Wayne here - founder of Clubright.

After working with 100s of gyms, and running my own successful gym… I’ve picked up on a few things and spotted some trends and mistakes gym owners keep making.
Here are some common mistakes you can easily avoid:

Frustrated Gym Owner

1. Only focusing on sales

After a successful career as Sales Director at Mercedes Benz, I was confident that I could sell memberships. I have a fond memory of taking a phone call from an enquiry whilst painting the walls of the gym - phone in one hand, paint roller in the other!

 However, I quickly realised that I’m not just selling a pass for a place to work out, I’m selling an experience. It dawned on me that although my business was growing rapidly, they were just another figure and most of them would come for 1 or 2 sessions (if I was lucky 3) never to be seen again! Building a relationship with my members became one of the main things that I was focused on because I needed to make sure they kept coming back!

2. Not creating a retention strategy early on

It costs nine times as much to acquire new members as it does to retain existing ones.

This is not overly surprising considering the amount of marketing budget you will spend trying to acquire a new member.  Retention is definitely crucial to the long term success of your gym. However, you need to be clear about how you measure retention. It isn’t measured by the number of total members you keep.

Members are always going to be cancelling and switching to other gyms and studios. The crucial thing is how much they pay you before this happens.

So to keep this member paying as long as possible you need to make retention a priority for your fitness business. And, like the marketing side of the gym, you can’t just dip in and out of retention, it needs to be an ongoing process.

Four great ways to supercharge retention are:

- Build a community with events.
- Keep up regular communication with the member to show you are interested in how they are doing.
- Track their progress so they can see that your studio is giving them the results they need.
- Run referral programmes to gauge if members are willing to recommend friends. If they aren’t this is a huge opportunity to intervene and discover any underlying issues.

3. Managing time poorly

It’s common to hear gym owners use the excuse that they don’t have the time. The truth is they have plenty of time, they’re just not using it wisely.

As a business owner, you have to decide what needs to be done by you and then what can be taken care of by someone else. The art of delegation is something you must master so that you can manage your time effectively and efficiently. You can learn this now, or more painfully later on down the road. It’s your choice.

Start getting comfortable with not trying to do everything yourself and be willing to invest in those who will free up your time to focus on what you do best. Tasks can be delegated to other people or you can find software to automate manual tasks.

4. Neglecting Marketing

“Build it and they will come” only works in movies, leads & members won’t magically appear.

The problem with a lot of first-time gym owners is that they see marketing as a campaign or an event or a strategy. And because they think like that, it becomes something the dip in and out of, something that is given a lot of effort for a couple of weeks and then picked up again at another point down the line. However, this is the wrong way to think about things.

Marketing is not just a campaign, event or strategy. Marketing is the continued implementation of all of these things and more so you constantly drive new leads and attract the right type of people your fitness business.

5. Not using software & tools to make their lives easier (and better!)

Manual admin tasks can cost trainers & gyms £8,136 per year (source: Workout Mag). However, 90% of admin can be done automatically by software that only costs £69/pm.

By implementing the right software to their businesses, gym owners can save an amazing amount of time and money. We can help you get this set up in no time!

6. Ignoring innovation

Almost 80% of the UK & US populations have a social network profile. If you’re not using social media you are missing out on a great way to communicate with your clients. Next to social media there are also other innovations that you shouldn’t forget, like fitness apps.

Most gyms have incorporated a mobile fitness app into their business allowing users to track workouts, schedule classes and book personal training classes. Members can also connect their wearables to your mobile app creating a brand identity for your gym that is available whenever and wherever they workout.

7. Not researching the market

When starting up your gym, it’s so easy to make false assumptions about the type of fitness experiences customers actually want. Likewise, if you don’t take into account what’s out there already, there’s a danger of mimicking existing businesses or failing to make your presence felt among the overwhelming competition. This is why market research is so important for any new gym owner.

Survey the current market: draw up a list of gyms operating in your locality, and find out what they offer and how much they charge. This will allow you to discover what’s already out there on the market, and more importantly, help to shape your unique selling point. 

8. Not having a clear mission

Aside from core values, a gym owner needs to set clear business goals. What is your mission? What do you want to achieve by opening a fitness business? What sets your gym apart from other similar facilities? Why would customers pick you and not someone else’s gym?

Answering all of these questions is not easy. Determining clear goals and adjusting your actions to meet those goals is not easy. Establish what drives you and you will become an inspiration for your clients as well. Work towards your goals assiduously, and they will work towards theirs.

In conclusion, launching and running a gym can be a steep learning curve, especially the first time of asking. There will be a lot of challenges and adversity along the way and moments where you feel like giving up

If you take these lessons on board and anticipate what’s coming down the line, you will be in a better position to handle these challenges and will be better able to handle any adversity that pops up in the future.

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