You struggle with retaining members and signing up new clients. How could you not? With the proliferation of low-cost health clubs, wearable technology, home video exercise plans, and YouTube workout videos that go viral within hours, traditional fitness facilities face enormous challenges these days — and experts tell us we’re only at the beginning of what will be a sea change in the way the fitness industry operates. In this blog space there’s been a lot of talk about facing the challenges by building communities; investing in trainers, staff, and other human resources; and incorporating technology. Here’s another approach to consider: becoming the solution.
In a recent article for FitBusiness Insider, Pat Rigsby, fitness industry consultant and co-owner of both the International Youth Conditioning Association and Athletic Revolution, says that if you can pinpoint the group you want your facility to serve and then “become the solution” for that group — that is, be the place that group automatically turns to to fulfill its needs — then you’ll establish a strong business that can withstand today’s challenges.
When you become passionate about helping a specific group, Rigsby says, you simplify your business. As he puts it: “You know what you have to focus on. What to study. Who to market to. What your identity is.” He provides several examples: “In Boston, baseball players seek out Eric Cressey’s gym. In Edison, NJ, wrestlers flock to Zack Even-Esh’s Underground Gym. If you’re in Santa Clarita and you want to lose fat, you go to the Cosgrove gym.” In other words, if you establish yourself as the go-to place for a particular group in a particular area with a particular interest or problem, you’ll find you don’t really have to compete with new technologies or other fitness facilities. You’ll simply be the place where people go.
What if your facility is already established as a more general gym, one that has pitched itself as a solution for everyone? That can work in your favor. Keep your generalist side, and keep inviting in members who simply want a good workout. But in addition choose one group to focus on, hone in on their needs, and begin investing in the resources needed to fulfill those needs. Be the go-to place for that group while also providing others with their daily exercise fix.