... and How to Avoid Them
Owning your first club is exciting and usually is a culmination of months and even years of planning and hoping and dreaming. Unfortunately, it can also be an overwhelming experience and ripe with the opportunity for mistakes for the unsuspecting club owner. Mistakes will be a part of opening any business. Many times, just being aware of the potential pitfalls is enough to keep you from them.
Here are 9 common mistakes you need to avoid when opening your new gym or health club:
- “Location, location, location” A subpar location can kill your business before it even gets off the ground. Make sure when researching your location you look for high traffic counts and patterns, good visibility, easy access and adequate parking. Does your space have prominent signage? Are there other businesses nearby to help with traffic? Getting a low rent is great, but if people can’t find you, they won’t be walking through your door.
- “To market, to market” Right up there with location is choosing the wrong market. When deciding on your market, ask yourself these questions: What are the demographics? Is there a lot of competition? Will the location support more than one club? What does your competition do well? Can you compete with them? How about pricing? What will differentiate your club and make you a better value?
- “Commitmentphobe” Most owners don’t see this one coming, but a lack of commitment to your new business can derail you. In their excitement, too often new owners misjudge the devotion and time it takes to get a new business up and running. The first 6 months to a year can be the most demanding and stressful time of one’s life; it is your baby. And just like an infant, it will require all of your time. There is no such thing as a part time gym owner. Get ok with that fact. Don’t plan vacations, weddings or other new babies. Give it a year. Things will settle down.
- “Cash poor” Being under-capitalized is the number one reason small businesses fail, but it is not all about initial capital. Often the problem lies in over estimating sales projections or underestimating operating expenses like salaries and utilities. Goals are a necessary part of yourbusiness, but you need to be realistic in your expectations and have a contingency plan if things don’t quite go as planned. The Golden Rule of Business is “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.” If the business makes no money the first 6 months will you be able to survive?
- “If you build it…” Every person who has ever worked with a contractor, construction crews or weather knows…. In construction, unexpected delays are the norm. All club owners are eager to get their new fitness center open, but delays happen, and setting member expectations too high can only lead to headaches. In fact, in some states, legislature that limits presale or has other restrictions has been created because of this fact. Under promise and over deliver is the best motto here. That, and keep in constant contact with your contractor.
- Know thyself~ Get honest, and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. What are you great at? What do you love doing? Get blunt with yourself; check your ego. What do you suck at? What would it be better to pay someone else to do? If you find this difficult, ask others outside your close-knit group of friends and family (who most likely will affirm your strengths and ideas). Look for the person who tells you things you don’t like to hear. There is tremendous strength in differences. Seek input from those that are objective or look at things differently than you do. Remember, you are seeking truth, not an affirmation. A large ego will not pay the rent.
- “Skill set” Whether a gym or health club owner or any other small business owner, you need to be resourceful and resilient. Anticipate not everything will go as planned and find a way to get it done. A lack of business skills will have your business circling the bowl pretty quickly. If this is your first venture, or if you know that your skills are rusty or nonexistent, get help. You can be taught. Look for resources, mentors and success stories that you can model. Read books by Dale Carnegie and Steven Covey. Learn to listen actively and effectively, so that you can create solutions. As an entrepreneur, you need to control your time management, obtain first rate people skills, display a proven ability to problem solve, and handle stress.
- “Goal Line” When in business, when times are tough (and they probably will be at one time or another) and even more often when things are flush, owners can find themselves losing sight of their values or goals. It’s at these times when you must return to the “Why?” of it all. Why did you open the gym? Just to make money? To create a legacy? For a certain lifestyle? Tired of the corporate life? Whatever your ”why”, realize that your values and goals will play a big part on how hard you work and the outcome you may achieve. By keeping your eyes firmly on your goals, you will make better decisions for you and your club.
- “Early Bird” A great finished product is important, but what good is scrambling around for weeks trying to make everything perfect inside the club, but neglecting the most important thing …getting members? Don’t discount the value of pre-sale. A successful presale is crucial to the future of your club. It can be the difference between profitability in months or just a few weeks. Pre-sale is a training ground. It is the time to perfect your pitch, train your staff, and ensure you are a finely tuned machine BEFORE opening. Another bonus… having a couple hundred members on day one is a huge confidence booster and also great for the bank account!
Now that you know what not to do, and how to fix it before it happens, get out there and make your dream a reality. Your future as a Gym Owner starts TODAY!!!