Why Gyms fail and go under part 1 of 2

Ok, here’s the “Donald Trump” version of why most Gyms fail

When it comes to these reasons why gym businesses are failing, most gym owners are in denial about everything. They get super mad when I tell them whats really going on. I try to be tactful, but not anymore, Marcu Lemonis on CNBC’s “The Profit” sealed the deal for me. I just have to tell the truth and let it sink in to the gym owner for days or even weeks sometimes. I’ve been there several times and almost went under also, so I had these same talks with myself believe me. But I did what it took to succeed by doing what i’m opening up about below.
  • “When your business get you to a place so dark you have to poke a hole in it to see out”, its time to ask for help
  • You’ve got to hunt down the problem like your looking for it in the daylight with a flash light.

 

  • The problem is most people are like the part of the Conway Twitty song, “He who won’t look is just as blind”. Most gym owners I deal with wont even look to find a problem because they are going to have to have some really difficult conversations with themselves first, then with those around them, and that’s really hard to do.

Here are the “going out of gym business sale” reasons:

  1. No innovation
  2. Getting Out Marketed (which is terrible to start with even with the biggest gyms)
  3. Uncleanliness
  4. Employees are untrained, wrong hires, or unmotivated (which is French for lazy)
  5. Owner is worn out and gives up from not having systems and processes in place.   (I think of these as a guide for my wife to run my business if I died today. She could walk in, open the owners manual or computer videos I made for every aspect of the business and continue on or sell the gym successfully)
Now let me break down every part to prove these are real issues in the fitness industry
  • Innovation: When I went from 120 members down to 50 I knew something was wrong. I had to offer something new and unique. I researched and went to other gyms in my town and out of town.
Then I sat down and ask myself which one I’d do with a very limited budget. By limited I mean $3000
I decide to boot strap a 24 hour gym access system and software because their were none in my town at the time.
I did everything myself except the install which needed an electrician. I ended up spending $3800 all together after I borrowed the $800
That was my one innovation to get started, later on I also automated my tanning beds so they were able to be accessed 24 hours by automation also. BTW, that was 7 years ago and as of yet no other gym in my town has done that with tanning because they cant figure it out for the insurance companies, and there are many 24 hour gyms now. They just don’t try to figure it out.
  • Gym Marketing: I got out marketed by a big gym opening close by. They didn’t even market was the crazy part. I got out marketed by not marketing.
  • I decided right after I Enacted the 24 hour access system and no one showed up to even glance at, that I had to let people know I was alive. Which meant learning how to market my 24 hour fitness center.
  • How? I went on a “how to market a gym” learning spree that has lasted 8 years now. I learned how to build a website, put an email form on the website and write marketing emails that gave great information out first of all then a call to action at the end of every email that got them to come in. Btw, it takes an average of 3 to 6 months after they start receiving the emails before they usually come in or call.
  • Video tour: Then came my video tour I put on YouTube then put on my website. This turned out to be the most valuable sales tool I ever used. It pre sold 95% of my prospects. I pretended the camera was a prospect walking up to the door and took the camera on the same tour the actual person would get. In this way everyone that visited my website got the tour and if we were not the gym they were looking for then we never wasted a second on them. But if they liked what they saw they’d come in, and when we started our sales pitch they’d stop us 95% of the time and say “I know how it works I saw the video, please take my money and sign me up”. Here’s the link to the very normal and cheesy video tour that you won’t believe actually saved my gym from 50 members to over 300 in less than 3 months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bA3bfNTNzg
  • Radio ads: then I write radio ads that lead the prospect to my website, sign up for the emails, and come in. Always, always, lead them to your website.
  • Then always lead them to sign up on your email form
  • then always include great email info, funny info, that leads them to your actual front door.
  • Then it’s up to you
“If you want to make people think your rich, wear penny loafers with a dime stuck in them”.
  Yes I love doing stand up comedy too, but its true about perception. Be charismatic, yes you can learn this art. Then listen, listen to what they want and need, then try to fill that need. If they need a program to go by, do as I did and make a program about how exactly to use the equipment in your gym and what pieces to use to work certain body parts, or even a basic diet program will go a long ways. Most importantly, when they say their name, burn it into your brain and repeat it several times to them during the conversation, the sweetest thing a person can hear or see is their own name, which is why we love to go to the mailbox even though we know there are bills in there.
I consider myself somewhat an expert now, but I did everything wrong to start with though. Like mark twain said “He who totes a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way”
I’ve toted many cats by the tail, learning every aspect of how to open a 24 hour fitness center and converting mine into a fully automated gym. Then marketing my gym to three times the members, doubled my fees, and finally selling my gym for over 5 times what it cost to start.

Part 2 of the “Why gyms go out of business” will cover cleanliness, employees, and the owners themselves” and how you can change everything just as I did. Be warned though, this article will be very blunt about laziness, time vipers, thieves, and owners who shouldn’t own a gym and exactly why. It will be the Donald Trump portion

For the complete NO B.S. Guide to opening a 24 hour fitness center from scratch and hear the fitnessmarketing.tv podcast about the 24 hour system, go to www.how2ownagym.com to see his book where you’ll find much, much more detailed info of everything in this article.
Shannon cook is an author of “how to open and market a 24 hour fitness center” and former owner of temple gym in Tuscaloosa Alabama and owner of www.fitnessmarketing.tv
Shannon is a consultant to the fitness industry for opening a 24 hour gym and fitness center marketing. Get the book below to learn everything you can about how to open a 24 hour fitness center and market it once open.

Questions or comments? email Shannon Cook at shannoncook902@gmail.com

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