A continuation of articles from our Fitness Founders series: Mehdi Elaichouni of Carpe Diem Jiu Jitsu Singapore shares his first-hand experience in how he has personally navigated challenges. He highlights key learnings and actionable takeaways to help new fitness businesses succeed. In this article, Mehdi walks us through how he set up his gym operational plan for Carpe Diem.
I’m a marketing guy by trade. But I love and am obsessed with the history and intricacies of business operations across different industries. From my time working in Nandos to watching how Decathlon shaves two seconds off manufacturing time, it’s clear that solid business operations keep companies up and running. Of course, the scale of operations will differ by industry, but its importance never wanes. As a new business owner, smooth operations will help retain customers that you spent a small fortune to acquire.
The scope of operations covers everything that goes on behind the scenes. In a fitness business, that includes:
- Managing staff
- Facility management
- Daily administrative tasks
- Customer service
To set up business operations for your new fitness studio, you will need logic and some heart.
Skip ahead to:
- Define what operational excellence means to your gym
- Go through your gym member’s journey
- Automate and invest to generate higher returns
- Standardize product offerings and internal processes
1. Define what operational excellence means to your gym
It is common for sales and marketing teams to have set objectives. This should also be a common practice for operations, so everyone on the team knows what they are working towards and can plot a path toward a common goal. The need to achieve excellence does not always mean you have to spend the most or be the most luxurious. It just needs to be aligned with your objectives and your customers.
Operational excellence at Carpe Diem means three things:
- Placing customers at the heart of everything we do
- Strive for the highest possible quality at a reasonable cost
- Task and communication efficiency
If you are not sure where to start, take a look at the nine key elements for a guide to setting up your own business operations.
2. Go through your gym member’s journey
To determine what type of processes you need to come up with, take a walk in the shoes of new and existing members and go through the physical and digital journeys that they will take. This helps identify the touchpoints they will come across, so you can then figure out which processes need to be developed and how.
As a new member
Think about your acquisition methods: what process will you have in place for selling a gym membership from start to completion? How and where will you communicate with your target market, pre and post-trial follow-ups, pre and post-sale follow-ups, and their physical journey through your gym.
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As an existing member
For existing members, focus on how to formalize the feedback process, cross and up-sell, and the promotion of new events and offerings.
Going through your customer journeys will be key in developing customer service, which plays a big role in acquiring and retaining members.
3. Automate and invest to generate higher returns
Today’s On-Demand Economy has created customers looking for simple, fast, and efficient experiences. Instead of relying on human response time, explore how you can automate or digitize information and processes to cater to customers. For example, when I started Carpe Diem, the first two assets I set up were a website and a gym management software. This gives leads access to information at all times and allows Carpe Diem to operate as a fully digital gym, so all transactions go through the gym management app.
As a business owner, you tend to focus on keeping members happy, but it is also essential to maintain a high level of employee (and business owner) satisfaction. Think about how you can help employees complete their tasks in better and more efficient ways, so they can accomplish more as well as spend time on more important tasks. Also, think about how your own management tasks can be more efficient.
Some examples are:
- Investing in gym management software to automate tedious administrative work and generate reports on the fly
- Train staff on how to communicate effectively to customers and to internal stakeholders
- Invest in products and equipment that speed up cleaning
4. Standardize product offerings and internal processes
My biggest nightmare is not having a standardized product because you will not be able to provide customers with a consistent experience, with some good classes and some bad. This will affect your conversion and retention rate. Standardization also helps to improve efficiency and lower costs and allows you to scale your business to generate more profits while keeping costs manageable.
Develop Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) help maintain quality and compliance for routine or repetitive tasks. You need to identify which processes require SOPs, set a purpose for them, then optimize them as you operate your business. Examples of processes that require SOPs are:
- Onboarding new customers
- Facility cleaning and maintenance
- Inventory checks and reordering
- Handling customer requests
- Promoting new products or events
Develop a thought process
While SOPs are not suitable for tasks that involve complex decision-making or tasks that need creative solutions, you can develop a thought process that helps guide you and other staff members to come up with proposed solutions.
Some points to consider:
- Background information
- Was there anything similar that happened in the past
- Reference outside of your business
- Key stakeholders
- Objectives you need to meet
The quality of your business operations will determine the success of your business and how quickly you will start generating a profit. So; develop a keen eye for details, revise and optimize processes, and standardize and automate as much as you can. When in doubt, seek out best practices in different industries as a guide.