People who know me, know that I am positive, the born optimist. I rarely think of things going bad. But while that is my mindset, I also see the reality: There are many common pitfalls for new gym owners. Here’s a number for you: 30% of your startup team will resign within a year. Here’s another reality: Every gym project I have seen in the Middle East, has had a delayed launched from the opening date set in the first meeting – despite careful planning. The reason? Delays in construction, or even better, delays due to licensing!
Now, these aren’t “Armageddon” type of news, but rather obstacles that can be navigated. Still, they made me think of some of the common pitfalls, that can have outcomes that are hard to correct:
1) Underestimation of Costs
The list of costs for running a gym is long: From construction to equipment, from changing rooms to salaries, from decoration to printing. Here is one you might not have thought of: A delayed launch means a shift in your cash flow. There are running costs you have to cover until you break even. My tip: In your business plan, account for every cost item, however small, and expect a few months of rent & ongoing costs without income.
2) Lack of Overall Concept
Attentive readers of my blog know that this is my pet peeve: Having no concept. In order for any brand to work, it has to stand out from the competition. There is no two ways about it. Who is your target customer? Female expats. Where is your location? Next to a daycare facility. What are your target activities? Pilates and yoga classes. Targeting everyone and everything is not targeting, that is dilution and it’s dangerous.
3) Poor Procurement Planning
A few steps into a gym and I can tell who bought the equipment. It might sound funny, but it’s the truth. You won’t believe how often I see too much or too little equipment, or equipment that simply isn’t useful. This one connects back to the concept, and in this case my advice is simply: Work with an expert!
4) Competitors Anonymous
Here’s another pitfall I see a lot: Gym Owners who haven’t done their due diligence and researched the competition. Your concept must stand out, and it cannot if it’s a carbon copy. Try to find out as many details as possible about your competition, go train there to feel the space, realize the gaps. Trust me, it’s what I do when I work with a client.
5) Treating your Gym solely like a Hobby
A gym is a business, and the people who work with you are your employees. They need salaries, have problems with colleagues, want promotions, and you have to keep your staff motivated. Operations have to be finetuned, processes written, timelines kept. These basics are important, so don’t skip the nitty gritty.
A final personal note: We’ve referred to gym owners as supermen before, and trust me, this isn’t far fetched. There is no harm in getting advice. It’s no surprise that after most first conversations with a new client, they realize it’s not just about picking some machines. This is why I offer turnkey consulting, and my clients who commission the service are glad they did.