The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success

Published on: 
08 October 19
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10 min read

The fitness industry has evolved significantly over the years, with the growth of boutique fitness continuing to reshape the fitness world. Today, there are literally thousands of different methods that fitness professionals can develop and use to grow their own business.

But before you’re at the stage where you can experiment with these methods to see what works best for you; you need a set of foundations to build your business on. They’ll run at the core of everything you do. Like BCAA’s are the building blocks of protein; these foundations are the building blocks of your business. They are the pillars that everything else will rest upon.

In this article, we’ll outline the 4 foundations that you need to build a successful fitness business.

1. Exceptional Member Experience

Competition in the fitness industry today is fierce; you can’t rely on acquiring members alone to succeed. 61% of consumers take their business to a competitor when they end a business relationship, so once you get them through the door and signed up, you need to deliver an exceptional customer experience to keep them there. 

Why Do People Leave?

There are lots of reasons people might choose to leave a gym, and some, like personal circumstances or change of location, are out of your control. The more common causes are areas that you can address because they all come down to the member experience. 67% of consumers said good customer experience encourages them to stay longer or spend more money. Below are three reasons that people often cite for leaving a gym. 

  • Loss of motivation/lack of progress. Think ‘New Year, new me’ wearing off, or one too many weekend beers – a recipe for defeat. How can you help keep your clients on track? What can you do to encourage them consistently? 
  • Local competition. The grass (or class) always seems greener. What makes your brand stand out? 
  • Cost. People know the price when they sign up, so unless their circumstances have changed or you’ve increased pricing, cost shouldn’t become an issue. What kind of service did your customers sign up for – are your meeting their expectations? 

The fact is; you can avoid all of these reasons if you’re always communicating with your members. It’s not a case of signing them up and ‘leaving them to it.’ While incentivizing sign up offers will bring new customers; retention is cheaper than acquisition. Loyal, long-term members are more valuable to your business in terms of maximizing revenue potential and building relationships with customers. 80% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. So whether you’re a fitness studio, health club, or gym; delivering an exceptional member experience will keep your business thriving. 

Empower Members with Convenience

Recent figures show the average American picks up their phone 52 times a day. Whether it’s checking emails, messaging friends, or scrolling through social media – we live on our phones.

With this, it makes sense to ensure that booking and paying for services is a convenient and mobile-friendly process for your members. 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too tricky! A branded app can make this possible; class bookings and making payments are both parts of a straightforward process. Plus, in our current phone-obsessed world, this kind of convenience is expected from customers.

Make it Personal

On the client-side, you enable convenience. On the business side, you have access to member insights that keep you connected with members. You can use these insights to personalize member communications; 77% of businesses that exceeded their revenue goals in 2018 have documented personalization strategies. 

Accessing these valuable member insights is an integral part of building and maintaining an exceptional member experience: without customer insight, how can you provide excellent customer service? When it comes to personalization, there’s no room for guesswork: you need to know your members.  

Personalize your service and take the member experience to the next level. Gym management software that can integrate business aspects from sales reports, bookings, and customer information is essential for understanding if you’re delivering top-quality service. If you see a drop in retention, you’ll be able to use analytics to identify why and come up with a solution. Not getting the results you wanted from your marketing efforts or email campaigns? You’ll be able to dive into those problems too. And it’s only from seeing where the issues are that you can do something to address them.

2. Visibility on Your Business Performance

As a fitness business owner, you must regularly check in on your business performance. Reports and analytics are powerful for acquisition before members have even step foot in your studio. Make sure your website is getting the results you want from prospective members. You’ll be able to view where people are taking actions on the page, and where people leave. Have you had an influx of visitors, but no one has booked a class? Why? Could it be the design of your website itself? Split up categories of classes or memberships to ensure that new website visitors are only ever one click away from becoming paying members. The flexibility is powerful. 

The classes you offer are at the pulse of your business; you need to know how they are performing by looking at the data around attendance and bookings. How is each class doing? Which ones are frequently full, which ones aren’t? How can you use this to grow your business?

Say, for example, you’re a class-based studio offering a variety of options. You access your class reports and notice that compared to others, your HIIT class is regularly only half full. Why? And what can you do to increase participation?

A good first call would be to talk with the trainer who takes the class to see if they know of any reason. Second, you need to attend the class for yourself. You might have some fantastic, passionate coaches, but at the end of the day, it’s your business. You need to be the driving force behind success, especially in the early days. Be sure to collect feedback from members after you’ve attended the class. You could either do this in person or use your customer data to send out a feedback email to those who’ve attended:

You killed it today. Tell us how you’d rate your workout. 

How would you rate the class  

* * * * * 

How would you rate your instructor? 

* * * * * 

We want to give you the best. Can we make any changes? 

___________________ 

Thanks for your feedback. See you soon! 

This type of data is available to give you total visibility over your business, but the power is in how you act on it. 

3. Simple Experience for Your Team

When you scale up your gym business, spreading the information you have gained within your growing team will be a big challenge. At the start, when the team is small, it may be tempting to be very hands-on with onboarding new staff. While this might work initially, it’s not an efficient way to conduct your onboarding when the team is more significant. It would be a waste of valuable time and resources best spent on other parts of the business.

Much like delivering an exceptional member experience to customers; keeping the experience simple for your team is essential for making sure you retain high-quality staff who are aligned with your business goals.

The key is to foster simplicity when it comes to staff training from the beginning. Think about your gym mission statement; what are your values, why you do what you do, who are you trying to help? All employees need to have a solid understanding of these fundamental principles to do their job well in every aspect; from selling memberships to training clients and teaching classes. 

Fitness entrepreneur and business coach Britanny Welk, founder of Ladystrong Fitness, swears by creating playbooks for documenting values and processes. According to her: “Everything is documented for us. We actually have a video, like a learning center for our staff. So when you come in, you go to the sales learning center. In that learning center, you are going to learn how to handle objections, how to answer the phone, how to follow up with the leads, you are going to learn everything that way”. Check out more of Brittany’s insights on setting up a fitness business on our Fitness Founders Podcast

Playbooks can be used to demonstrate every part of how you want your team to work. What’s the protocol when someone is selling to a prospect? How do they get them signed up and ready to go? Any gaps or lapse at this point could mean you lose the prospect entirely; so it’s not an option. 

In terms of staff efficiency, as your business grows, employees should easily be able to create, manage, and access class schedules and timetables. Staff need to be able to view information like upcoming classes and how many members to expect on each specific day. This transparency will enable your team to always be prepared and ready to give their best. Again, making the most out of tech like an app can help deliver a smooth experience for your team. Give employees the ability to switch between studios, manage their schedules, take bookings, and check members in. All of this convenience can empower your team to spend more time on what they do best; training.

4. Control over Your Business as It Grows

As your fitness studio grows, it’ll become harder for you or your sales team to manage new leads. You don’t want to waste your valuable time trying to find the answers to basic questions like; when did I last speak with that lead? Which new leads have almost finished their trial?

Tackling this inefficiency is something business coach and entrepreneur Joe Sanok talks about during episode eleven of the Fitness Founders podcast. “There is this great business concept called Lean Manufacturing. It came out of like Toyota and all these other places where you’re looking at all the facts. Everything from why do we have people fill out a paper application? You know, there is time to staple, and to print, and to file, why don’t we switch over to something digital?” 

Having control over simple elements like lead management is key to growing your business. But this process needs to be efficient so you can focus on the areas that really need your attention, like your business strategy. As Joe highlights, cutting out unnecessary administrative tasks where you can early on help in the long-run:

“Where are places that you can cut, the things that are repeated that shouldn’t be repeated, where are the places that we can have more efficiencies that are going to increase your bottom-line as well? And then after you do those things which aren’t necessarily the fun things, but they boost the bottom-line, then you can start to enhance and add extra services, extra locations. You want to have your system locked down, so if you do extra locations or if you add additional services, they can all fall to a system that’s pretty locked down.”

Check out more of Joe’s advice on scaling your business in the full podcast episode below.

In Summary

Each of the essential foundations discussed crossover: they complement each other, and if you miss one, you’ll find that you’ll struggle in another area. They focus on the importance of delivering a member experience that encourages long-term retention and using tech to power your business. The efficiency this brings will free up your time. 

This time is best spent doing what you started out to achieve: growing a successful fitness business that will help people live happier, healthier lives. 

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