Written by: Phil Morton, Partnership Development Manager at Zen Planner
Phil has over 10 years of experience owning multiple CrossFit gyms. He currently co-owns and remotely operates a London-based CrossFit gym with his wife.
Running an affiliate gym is a grind, but can be super rewarding. This breakdown of the third Annual Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report focuses on what the best affiliate gyms are doing that others are not, and it looks at a key opportunity that gets missed by many gym owners, the chance to learn from others.
A huge 44% of the most successful gyms featured in the report have operated for 7+ years with another 22% over the 5-year mark. What do these gyms have that the 1-3 year gym does not? They have made many mistakes, they have made plenty of bad decisions and what this equates to is a lot of valuable experiences, important lessons and many more opportunities to grow. This is something you can only get from spending time in the trenches, right? Wrong.
While there is nothing you can do to speed up your time in business, you can speed up the time it takes to learn the same lessons and be as successful as these businesses.
Leaders Have Systems
You don’t run a hugely successful business for 7+ years flying by the seat of your pants.
With younger gyms, the tendency is for business owners to store their systems and processes in their heads.
We often see businesses begin to develop and document their systems as they grow and the need for them becomes apparent, such as when the need to bring on and train new staff members.
While this may seem like the best time to start documenting your processes or systematizing your experience, you are missing out on two key elements. The first is creating a consistently amazing experience for your members, and the second is a few years of learning and development.
With a documented system, you have something which is repeatable for every single member. Gym goers are in the market for value, this does not mean cheap memberships but it means value for the money they are paying. Having a systemized member experience ensures every person who comes through your doors gets the same amazing experience, improving retention and fueling growth.
Also, with a documented system, you have a process that can be tweaked, developed and improved over time. As the business grows, you will notice areas that are taking too much of your time. So, you make it more efficient, find processes that are costing too much and double-down on the things that enhance your member experience. Systems are not impersonal or inflexible, they are at the very heart of your experience and what allows you to learn and evolve on a grand scale.
If I could increase your profit $1,000 a month right now by giving you a lesson I have learned, would you take me up on it? Hopefully you would, but as business owners, we are often reluctant to ask for help or admit we may be struggling, especially when it comes to running our business.
With that, how many business owners have ever received training on how to run and grow a company? Would Starbucks hire a new Barista and not train them up? Would you hire a new Admin Assistant and not give them the tools to succeed? Just because you own your own business does not mean you should not have access to training. Running an affiliate gym isn’t easy, this is where business consultants enter the picture.
The best business consultancy services have consultants who have lived the gym owner life, often several times over, and have worked with hundreds of gyms. They have decades of experience so why not cut short your learning curve and get to where you want to be in 3 years instead of 7 years?
It’s worth noting that 32% of the most successful gyms have paid for business consultancy, that’s a whopping 10% more than the next closest category.
Maximize What You Have
New gyms often start small and race to be bigger and better. Bigger facilities, more equipment, more coaches, etc. While this seems like a natural progression, it is often a path to an unsustainable business.
Beyond the basics, your members don’t care about having a huge space or all the cool new gym toys, they care about value and a great experience.
Leaders have smaller facilities than large gyms (Average of 5,000 sq. ft. vs 7,500+ sq. ft.), and they have a smaller average square foot per member than the other segments.
What this means is they have cheaper overheads (rent, business expenses, payroll, etc) and along with a diverse range of revenue streams (memberships, personal training, retail, events, etc), they are maximizing their space. As business owners, we should all be looking for ways to keep costs low by cutting out waste and investing in areas that offer the biggest ROI, along with looking at ways to drive up revenue.
What this blog and ultimately the report comes down to is being open to learning. Why struggle with the same things that so many others have done before?
When it comes to running an affiliate gym, use the Annual Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report as a guidepost to help you make more educated decisions. Download for free below.