So, you've decided to open a gym. Congratulations! You're about to be part of a growing industry, one that contributes to the health and well being of countless people. The hard work begins now.
As you enter this growing industry, you're also entering a competitive and ever-changing space. With new gyms appearing regularly, your job is to stay ahead of the technology, science and of client needs.
Before starting, there are three key things to know:
- As a gym owner, you'll do very little working out or training. Instead, your time will be taken up by budgeting, taking inventory, managing wages and other administrative issues.
- Obtaining new clients is much more difficult than nurturing the ones you already have. Customer relationship management is vital.
- Opening a gym is expensive, particularly when it comes to purchasing equipment and managing the fit out. Ensure you budget thoroughly and account for potential additional costs before you start.
Read on for our top tips to starting your very own gym.
Make a Plan
A business plan is necessary if you're seeking outside investment, but it's also a clear way for you to map our your plans and business requirements. Before starting, make sure you've got your ABN, business name, domain name and any necessary business license.
Your business plan should include:
- A business overview
- Your business type
- A budget and financial projections
- Your investment and funding requirements
- A competitive and market analysis
- An explanation of your competitive edge
- Location plans and considerations
- Marketing and promotional plans
- Projections and other details
Lean Canvas is a simplified business plan, which allows you to condense all the details into a one-page document. Download yours here.
Assess the Costs
Now that you've written your business plan, you have an idea of how much your gym will cost. Be sure to consider the cost of:
- Equipment, including wear and tear and upkeep
- Location fit out (more on that below)
- Staff costs, including wages, uniforms and training
- Customer acquisition
- Customer extras, like branded accessories and giveaways
- Technology, including internet and music
- General maintenance like cleaning
Pro Tip: According to Glofox, "...it costs nine times as much to acquire new members as it does to retain existing ones." Treat your customers well, check in with them regularly and make them a priority. In turn, they'll bring in new members for you.
Scout a Location
Your gym location can mean the success of failure of your business. You might have a spacious building, but if nobody ever sees your gym sign, it won't do you much good. When choosing a location, consider:
- Council and other requirements, including opening and closing hours
- Foot traffic
- Local demographics, including age and income
- Competitive local gyms
- Gym demand
- Visibility and advertising options
- Opportunity for partnerships with other nearby businesses
- Fit out capabilities
- Size and flexibility
- Rent or lease costs, depending on your budget
Pro Tip: the more broad your gym is, the less appeal you'll have to niche groups. Rather than being a jack of all trades and master of none, choose a specialty and work to become the best of its kind.
Having insurance will give ensure you're protected, should anything unfortunate happen on your watch. Depending on the type of insurance you get, you'll be protected for injuries, damages and other incidents. Because you're working in an industry that deals with health, pain and often illness, it's essential you're well trained and financially protected.
Do your research and find the right insurance for you, and consult an expert to assist with any contracts or legal requirements you have.
Develop a Program and Theme
By now, you already have an idea of the kind of gym you're opening, but finding your niche is essential. What kind of vibe will your gym have? What about music?
Start by deciding on your specialty, which may be:
- A standard gym with basic equipment to cater for average men and women
- A primarily weights-focused gym, targeted to men and women interested in bodybuilding and weight lifting
- A certified Crossfit gym
- A functional training gym
- A men's/women's only gym
- A Pilates studio
- A yoga studio
- A group class gym
- A 24 hour gym
- A combination of the above
Next, start thinking about the gym's aesthetic: the music, the colour scheme, the lighting and everything in between. Having a really clear vision will make executing it a breeze.
You've probably already worked out that you need a whole lot of equipment to make your gym complete. While not the only type of inventory you'll need, the gym equipment itself will take up the bulk (pun intended) of your costs. Your gym type will determine exactly what you need, but consider:
- Free weights
- Pull-up frames
- Weight racks
- Benches, including flat, adjustable and press
- Stationary bicycles
- Rowing machines
- Fitness balls
- Boxing equipment
- Reformer platforms
- Resistance bands
- Skipping ropes
- Stretching accessories such as foam rollers
Pro Tip: Track the progress of your members and offer them friendly tips on how to optimise their sessions.
You may be looking for personal trainers, group trainers, office managers, receptionists or any number of key personnel. For Australians, trainers require a Certificate III, IV or Diploma (be sure to check the requirements in your country), but depending on their roles you may request more specialised training.
Set up interviews, run trials and make sure your employees have the right attitude, energy and flexibility to suit your needs.
Now that you're ready to launch, it's time to leverage the relationships of those around you. Why not try:
- Offering a special discount to nearby business owners and employees, to get them in the door and start spreading the word
- Developing a special offer with local businesses, where they get a discount by attending your gym as well as another local business
- Run free trials
- Set up an incentive program for referrals
- Ask your friends and family to spread the word
If you have a high-quality gym, once people experience your service, they'll spread the word and make advertising (our final step) much simpler.
It doesn't matter how fantastic your product or service is: if your scheduling system is ineffectual, you'll lose valuable business. Some companies don't use scheduling software, while others have a confusing and convoluted product that is too difficult for customers to use. With so many options available to prospective members, they won't hesitate to find another company with an easy system.
Cogsworth has a clean and easy-to-understand interface, as well as a whole range of features and add-ons to make attracting, retaining and servicing clients incredibly easy. Learn how to manage staff, set up recurring appointments, integrate PayPal payments and more here.
You've finally opened your gym! Now, get ready to start telling everyone you know (and don't know), about how wonderful your service is. If you don't have a big budget, start by using social media to set up a business pages and events, and ask your friends to share your posts. Eventually, you'll want to start putting money behind your digital activity, and develop a strategy around how to get the most out of your activity.
Starting a gym is hard, but if you plan, research and commit, you'll have a thriving business in no time!