What better time to roll out a new content concept than during the last week of the spring Faction program? Now I can bully you into sticking around for the summer if you’d like to see more of this.
Say hello to “3-Thought Thursday,” a more detailed spin-off from previous 10-tip blogs I’ve shared in the past. This time around I have three beefier insights to share.
Thought One – A bad real estate decision can crush you.
A beautiful baseball complex opened roughly ten miles from our flagship facility a couple of years back and the owners were hell bent on getting us to open a satellite facility on-site. The proposed space was 4,500 square feet, overlooking an aesthetically pleasing Field #1, and provided unlimited field access for sprint work, throwing, and more at times that games were not being played.
There was, however, a hitch. Two of them, actually.
The first issue was the fact that our clients started catching wind of the potential new location and location-change requests began to roll in from those who found the new option to be geographically more desirable than our current spot. With more than a third of our clients falling into this geographic category, we quickly realized that our fancy potential new space was going to cannibalize more business from our primary operation than it would initially add in new faces. No bueno.
The second problem was the price. This spot is situated adjacent to a major interstate, and across the street from a gorgeous shopping plaza. Despite being located on the field-facing back of the building, landlords wanted to collect street-facing dollars, commanding as much as 2.5 times as many dollars per square foot as our gym just twenty minutes down the road.
We had to ask ourselves, is the newfound high-traffic location going to bring enough new faces through the door to justify spending nearly the same amount of monthly rent on 4,500 square feet as we were already paying on 15,000 elsewhere?
I passed on this opportunity roughly 36 months ago, and have watched not one, but two different “elite performance facilities” come and go in that very space during this time.
The lesson for me was twofold: First, don’t fall in love with the busiest address on the map, as storefront real estate fees are typically established to align with the earning potential of retail stores and restaurants, not performance centers that require ample space for movement training.
Secondly, if you’re considering a second location, find something that is inconvenient to get to in relation to your first space. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself sharing clients, dealing with tracking payments and attendance spread over multiple locations, and subject to ongoing compare and contrast discussions relating to your two spots. The guys at Mark Fisher Fitness learned this lesson quickly, establishing clear rules stating that you’re either a Hell’s Kitchen client, or a Bowery client. There is no grey area.
Thought Two – Speaking the language of your audience is more important than being a brilliant tactician.
My current intern Kyle just signed a contract to stay on in a full-time paid role immediately following our winter/spring program.
He would be the first to tell you that he is arguably the third-smartest (or technically proficient) intern in his class here at CSP. He has the least related academic experience of the three in question, less exposure to complex training concepts and methodologies, and the least impressive resume.
He does, however, communicate more comfortably with 90% of our athletes than anyone on our entire team. Kyle played four years of D-1 collegiate baseball at Rutgers, shined during a summer pitching in the Cape Cod League, and currently volunteers as the Pitching Coach at an affluent local high school.
He is now the only guy on our team who can look a baseball dad in the eye and explain exactly what to expect from the perspective of an athlete during the recruiting process. He also saw his career cut short by a shoulder injury that could have been avoided had he been exposed to quality strength training and arm-care protocols at an earlier age.
In short, he’s walked the walk, and can talk the talk.
Do you think the previously mentioned dad holding the credit card in my office gives a shit whether or not Kyle has attended a dozen PRI conferences?
Thought Three: Stifling employee creativity facilitates a culture of complacency and encouraged mediocrity.
Think about that the next time you tell an employee that they aren’t allowed to maintain a blog or build a brand while under your employment. I once heard a seminar attendee ask Alwyn Cosgrove what he’d do if he invested in training an employee and they left.
His response: “What if I don’t train them, and they stay?”
I’ve been asked several times in recent months if I’ve changed my policy on this matter after having multiple employees depart to open their own gym.
This isn’t the first time a CSP staff member has left to open their own shop (I see you, Tony Gentilcore), and almost certainly will not be the last. You’d be hard pressed to find a gym that was opened by someone who didn’t work at another fitness facility in some capacity before deciding to take the leap on their own. We all got here in a somewhat similar fashion.
If you’re going to build something large enough to justify hiring coaches, your objective should be to assist in their personal and professional development so effectively that they ultimately outgrow the role. No one ever said “my business failed because I employed too many overqualified coaches over the years.”
The way I see it, employees moving on to open their own gym can end in one of two ways:
- They crush it, and people say: “Of course they did…they’re a product of CSP.”
- Things don’t work out, and people say: “I guess they should have stayed where they were at.”
Either way, life goes on, and CSP moves forward.