So, you’re thinking of starting a gym.
Why wouldn’t you? You’ve been a personal trainer for a while now, you enjoy the industry and you have a pretty loyal client base. Opening your own business seems like the next logical step, right? You’d have your own space, make your own rules, control your own money, and be your own boss. What else is there to know?
But before you sign on the dotted line, read over this post to make sure you’ve thought of these five crucial steps.
1. Research, Research, Research
First, research. And then, research some more.
Jumping straight into gym ownership would be like taking a med exam without ever studying for it. Sure, there might be one lucky person out there who can wing it and get their degree. (Scary!) But for the general public, that isn’t recommended- or even plausible. Researching and studying is essential.
There is so much more to running a gym than merely asking your clients to follow you to some space you’re renting out. You stand to lose quite a bit, financially and emotionally, if you skip this important step.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you going to open a gym on your own? Or will you have a business partner? Do you already have the money for it, or will you need a loan? Have you considered an investor? What are your thoughts on crowd-funding?
Is there a business name yet? Do you know if it’s available or already taken?
How big of a space will you need? What is the most money you can afford to spend monthly? Does that include utilities and fees? What about repairs or upgrades?
What kind of gym will it be, anyway? Is there a specific demographic, or client base, you hope to target? Bodybuilders? Athletes? Families? Yogis? All the above?
Will you buy or lease your equipment? Do you plan to offer classes? How many instructors and staff members will you need to hire? Are there any competitors in the area? Will your facility sell apparel and food?
If you don’t have all the answers, that’s okay. Now you know where to start.
If you do have all the answers, kudos to you. Advance to GO. Or, bullet number 2.
2. Create a Plan
You’ve done the research. Now it’s time to draft up your game plan. If you’re applying for a loan, you will need a written plan.
Make sure you give yourself a realistic timeline to work with. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And your gym won’t be either. It’s going to take a significant amount of planning.
You don’t have to go at this step alone. Find a mentor or somebody you trust to look over it all with you. Having a fresh pair of eyes and an extra set of ideas is always helpful.
If you know other gym owners or business owners, that’s great! They can tell you how they got their start, how to prioritize your list of to-do’s, which pitfalls to be aware of, and ways to outshine the competition.
If you don’t know any yet, don’t worry. Consider ways to network in the industry and meet some; This is easier to do now than ever, thanks to social media. Hop online and search for gym related business forums on Facebook and Linkedin. Once you feel comfortable with them, ask if you can pick their brains about all things related to starting a gym and gym ownership.
3. Cover Your Bases
You did the initial research and mapped up a draft plan. Now it’s time to get your players suited up to cover your bases. Your legal bases, that is.
Accidents happen. And unfortunately, gyms are one of those places accidents happen in. You want to make sure you have the right legal protection for yourself and your business.
Also, if you have a co-owner or investor, you will need each person’s role and percentages in writing. That way, there is no confusion or power struggles later on.
What are some things to start looking into? A legal entity, a business bank account, liability insurance, permits and licenses, and tax registration.
4. Get and Stay Organized
Once you have 1-3 done, it’s time to think about ways to get and stay organized. Organization will be key to a smooth kick-off. And it will ensure you stay on top of things as your establishment grows larger.
It’s easy to get lost or drown in the technical aspect of the business. Especially if you are low on staff to start with and taking on many roles.
Do yourself a solid and find a reputable software to use- straight off the bat; Like EZFacility’s gym management software. It will make announcements, planning and sharing class schedules, and setting up gym memberships much easier. You even have the option to send your clients text messages. Talk about convenience!
Your software can track and manage memberships, keep cancellation rates low, set you up for financial success, and make you very, very happy.
5. Get the Word out
Now for the fun part. You have to get the word out. Shout it from the mountain tops! “I am running a gym!” Or, just get on social media and tell everyone you know. Same thing.
Most of your friends, family and existing client base will be happy to share your news on their platforms without you even having to ask. But, don’t feel shy about making a request. Most will oblige; This is terrific news.
Also, use some old-school marketing and networking. Print attractive flyers and business cards to post up at local establishments or to hand out to any new people you meet.
Finally, open your space to your community. Offer trial classes, workshops, and anything else that might entice people to check out the place. Free coffee and kittens! Hey, whatever works.
Another good idea is to consider renting out your facility to other groups in the area. Anything that gains your facility positive exposure and gets people out there could drum up potential clients.
Looking for more great gym information? Once you have your gym up and running check out our other resources like how to run a successful gym.