We’ve built our entire GymBuddy platform around supporting gym owners, so we thought we’d look at ten things every new gym owner must know in 2020.
Let’s get started.
- Don’t cater to everyone
A famous advertiser once said, “sex sells.” Nowadays, specialism sells.
If you cater to everyone, you cater to no one.
This can be hard to accept at first, as your first thought might be to offer as much as possible to attract as many people as possible.
The best thing to do is to pick a target audience that’s not currently being served in your area and build a gym around them.
- Define your vision and values
You need to define your gym concept, stick to it, and revolve every decision around it.
Who is your gym for? What are those users looking for? What kind of machines will they need? What kind of aesthetic will they enjoy? What problems do they have outside of the gym that your gym helps them solve? What extras will they be expecting?
Get clear on your purpose and stick to it.
- Create Systems and Processes
Whether that’s for staffing, customer retention, accounts, health and safety, cleaning, sales, admin, training or programming, document how you do everything in a step-by-step process to make sure your staff and customers know what to expect.
People like clear rules and regulations – it makes everything seem fair and equal. Plus, it’s a great way to set and maintain high standards and lets everyone know where they stand.
For your accounts, we’d recommend looking at Xero. Your accountant should recommend it to you, as it’s the market-leading accountancy software. Plus, there are lots of plugins available that make tracking your gym’s progress much easier.
- Don’t buy all your equipment in one go
You don’t need everything at once. Add to your equipment as you grow.
Each time you buy a new bit of kit, it’s a great chance to promote the gym. Plus, existing members will be pleasantly surprised when they see new equipment appearing over the year.
- Consider extra ways to make money
Think about what your customers would benefit from, and then provide them with that. Don’t sell something just because someone gives you a good deal, or because it’s your favourite brand.
Make sure there’s a demand before you commit. The most important thing with offering extra products is to do it properly. You don’t want to be seen with a few tubs of creatine in a dusty glass shelf in the corner of your gym.
Some potential products include supplements, towels, locks for lockers, bottles and t-shirts.
- Build your network
79% of successful gym owners network for 5 hours + a month. That’s as good a reason as any to start. How do you go about this? There are a few main ways to do so:
1) Reach out to your competition
You need to find where your competitors “hang out”. That could be LinkedIn, or on a more fitness specialist app like GymBuddy.
As a gym owner, you can download and sign up to GymBuddy for absolutely free. Not only will you be able to connect with fitness pros and gym owners all over the UK, but you can advertise your gym for free to attract new visitors.
What’s more, unlike other aggregators, GymBuddy pays you for every visit to your gym by one of our users. Plus, we pay you every month for the visits.
2) Attend industry-specific events and conferences
There’s an expo for everything these days. Find them on Eventbrite and attend the events to learn something from other pros to get a better wider knowledge of the fitness industry. You never know who you’ll meet.
3) Attend other events and conferences
For example, why not take advantage of workshops that teach you how to use social media better? Most cities have them regularly taking place. You’ll learn something useful, plus you’ll be able to advertise your gym while you’re there.
- Don’t trade services
When you’re first starting any business, people will try and take advantage of your goodwill by offering you their services in exchange for yours.
For example, a plumber might offer to fit your bathroom in exchange for a free membership.
No matter how tempting it is, avoid this.
If someone gets annoyed when you politely say no, then it shows that their intentions probably weren’t good to begin with.
Make sure you’re paid what you’re owed and pay what you owe. Then you know where you stand.
- Leave your website to the professionals
It doesn’t matter how good your sister’s boyfriend thinks he is at web development and copywriting. No, unless he makes a living from it, tell him to keep his hands off your website.
Invest in a good website and it will serve you well for years. A decent professional website can cost as little as £1000, which the grand scheme of things is not a big outgoing.
Your website needs to describe your gym’s vision, the people it is for and any important information in a way that makes the reader see your gym is right for them. That takes a professional touch, so outsource it to one and get on with the many other tasks that demand your attention.
What’s more, you’ll need a user-friendly scheduling software for all your classes, which will take a professional to install.
- Customer retention
Once you’ve signed up members, it’s not a simple task to keep them. Gym users like change and people lose motivation at the drop of a hat.
It’s your job as a gym owner to keep your members motivated.
How do you do this? Here are a few ways:
- New machines
As we’ve said, by not buying all your machines in one go you’re giving your existing members things to look forward to. This isn’t a sustainable way to retain customers, but it works in your first year.
- Free introductory personal training session
Customers hate the word ‘induction’ because it makes them feel like a complete beginner. Rephrase the induction as a “free personal training session”. It sounds more appealing.
Use the free personal training session to give your new member a six-week workout plan. 50% of people quit a new gym within the first six months, so give them a plan to structure their time in the gym.
What’s more, you can help your new member set realistic goals and expectations. New gym users often say they don’t want to “get too big” (meaning muscly). This is funny for people who train, as we all know building muscle is a difficult thing to do.
Some national gyms are popular because they have no contract, but gym contracts are used by most gyms and so customers expect to sign one. Don’t feel bad about imposing contracts if that’s what’s best for your business and your customers. If you’re nervous about chasing fees, outsource that function to a third-party company.
The decisions you make about how to promote your business are crucial. We’ve already discussed the importance of your website, but the other platforms you decide to put your effort in to are equally as important.
When choosing mainstream social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, remember that lots of different people with different interests are on there. Not everyone cares about your gym. Imposing yourself on them will attract negative comments, which can be deflating at first.
Do not fall into the trap of asking your friends and family to ‘like and share’ your business page. You need to attract new clients using content marketing, which we go into more detail about here.
GymBuddy is a free platform for gym owners to help you promote your gym to a relevant and engaged group of fitness-fanatics across the UK. It is completely free for gym owners to sign up for, and you won’t pay GymBuddy any fees whatsoever. We give you a dedicated gym owner portal where you can track which users you’re expecting and log every time a user visits your gym. At the end of the month, GymBuddy adds up every user that’s visited your gym and then pays you for that visit in under 14 days – guaranteed.
For more information, head over to our Gym Owners page.