Happy Thursday, Faction.
About a month back I shared a ten-part blog outlining miscellaneous business tips I’ve accumulated over the past decade. Feedback was great, so I’m back with another random collection of thoughts to share on this fifth Fit-Biz Thursday of the Spring session. I hope you find one or two small nuggets of insight to apply in the near future at your operation:
- Get into the habit of writing. Whether you intend to publish or not, this practice will be worth your time. Nothing solidifies your grasp on a concept quite like putting it in the written format. When it comes time to identify appropriate subject matter, fight the urge to focus on speaking to the biggest popular audience. There are a thousand different people out there outlining a fat-loss blog right now, but I know there are only a handful of them who are contemplating social media strategy for performance gyms. In short, stay in your lane.
- We could all use to be more deliberate about our strategy for communicating our referral bonus systems. Most (if not all) gyms have a system in place to reward clients for introducing friends, but very few of them have a system in place for discussing this offering on a regular basis. At CSP we build referral bonus language into the pricing sheet that is distributed to 100% of our leads, and remind every client of the existence of this system each time they make a payment. Our Office Manager Julie is always quick to say: “Thank you for your payment! Don’t forget that your next month of training with us will be discounted if you happen to refer a friend in the coming weeks!” Just having a referral bonus strategy in place isn’t sufficient if you haven’t outlined how to broadcast it consistently.
- There is nothing more important to a gym owner than a healthy life at home as it relates to relationships with spouses and children. When you sit down to plan your day hour by hour, commit some designated time specifically to family that is untouchable. Establishing non-negotiable guardrails with your schedule for personal life will change the way you feel about everything.
- Hoping to scale your business in the coming months or years? Allowing clients to manage their scheduling with you via text is playing with fire. The bigger your operation gets, the more that phone will be vibrating on the kitchen counter when your spouse is just looking to spend a few minutes enjoying your undivided attention. Additionally, making that jump from 2,000 square feet into the 4,000+ range is going to need to coincide with adding employees, and they’ll all hate you if they find that you take liberties with filling the client schedule via texts that they don’t have access to. The sooner you establish “company systems” for that process, the easier your life will be.
- On social media strategy: I like the idea of an 80/20 rule featuring 80% celebration of client accomplishments, and 20% establishing yourself as a guy who knows his stuff by creating informational content. One great way to blur the lines between the two is to record informational/instructional videos with a client as the demonstrator. This allows you to educate while still making paying customers feel like part of the process. Plus, if you tag them in the posts, they often share them with their own following.
- Whether you intend to offer online training services or not, it would be a great idea to begin assembling a comprehensive exercise video database for your business. We initially began accumulating this material to be included in Eric’s Show & Go product, but quickly realized that it gave us the tools necessary to deliver training materials to clients who execute programming partially here at CSP under the supervision of our team, and partially at a gym closer to home. We now have a considerably larger reach geographically since local athletes can justify a long ride to our gym on the weekend if they know they’ll get their hands on material that can be used elsewhere. If you do begin this process, do yourself a favor and standardize the camera you use, the sound equipment, the lighting, etc. Consistency translates to professionalism when it comes to video content.
- On Lease Negotiation: It drives me crazy when gym owners tell me that they are comfortable in their space so they are not exploring alternatives as their current lease expires. Get out there and make sure that you understand the local real estate market before having a single discussion about renewal. There is always a chance that a landlord could inform you that he’s selling the space or discontinuing rentals, in which case you’d be out of luck. It never hurts to prepare for a worst-case scenario. Plus, it communicates that you’re informed if the landlord comes to learn that you’ve familiarized yourself with all of your options. The moment you say: “I’m completely thrilled and have no intention of leaving,” you have given the property owner the upper hand in the negotiation.
- In a similar vein, having a comprehensive understanding of your competitive landscape is imperative if you want to be more effective in presenting price increases moving forward. This starts with thoroughly understanding the cost of training with your competition, and knowing where your strengths lie in relation to their perceived skill set. I orchestrate an extremely thorough market analysis every spring with the assistance of a student intern. This involves taking an inventory of surrounding businesses, compiling a comprehensive list of service offerings and pricing structures, and identifying any weaknesses in their approach to customer service or articulating their model.
- One of the most common questions I receive from Strength Faction gym owners is when the time is right to hire an admin to manage the front end of their business. Don’t rush the hire for an admin. Take your time and engage the rest of the team in the discussion and make sure that they are intimately involved in the interview process. My wife works for Salesforce and she was recently one of the primary interviewers for their new senior council role. This is surprising because she was interviewing attorneys who were in some cases twenty years her senior, but necessary because she is the employee who will spend a great deal of time working with/alongside the future hire. Everyone’s opinion matters when it comes to adding fresh faces to your roster.
- If you haven’t done so already, join your local chamber of commerce. I spend $200/year for a membership that gives us access to a local mailing list featuring 100+ businesses that are excited about collectively working to improve the local economy. One email to this list just 24 hours ago resulted in three different low-cost room rentals for incoming CSP interns and a new Strength Camp registration.
We’ll talk soon!