Archive for the ‘Convert your Gym into a 24 hour automated Gym’ Category

Why Gyms fail and go under part 1 of 2

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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

Top 3 Best ways I Marketed and Advertised my Fitness Center after I converted it to a 24 hour fitness center, Plus the fitness marketing.tv Podcast

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

My Gym Marketing top three ways I tripled my gym memberships in under 3 months and kept a 90% retention rate for over 6 years until I sold my gym.

I’ve tried every marketing thing there is when it came to Marketing and Advertising my 24 hour Fitness Center. I owned it for 10 years and sold a few months ago for many times what it cost to start.

I loved the Gym Business but as they say in “the godfather”, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Here are the top 3 ways I found worked best for my Fitness Center Marketing and not only grew my fitness center but saved it from closing like so many gyms in the first 3 years.

I always said “I can’t do Marketing”, then I read a quote that General Grant said Abraham Lincoln related to him when he told him he couldn’t seem to beat Robert E Lee at one point. Lincoln told him that they had a saying out west, “If you can’t do the skinning, hold a leg so someone else can”. I listened to, watched, went to seminars, and spent my own money seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Here’s what I found out.

1. Niche

I researched until I Found out what people wanted from a fitness center in my area. This was not hard for me to figure out, but it was hard to figure out how to do it.  No one in the industry would tell me anything, and I don’t blame them. So I had to reverse engineer it myself.

It was to CONVERT TO A 24 HOUR FITNESS CENTER.
This was my first priority. I logged the whole process in a book you can get below

2. Website
I got a great website template and built my site along with “video tour”. A video tour is very important, in it answer all the questions your prospects ask when they come in to look around. You can see the video I did at http://youtu.be/5bA3bfNTNzg

Then I put as much content along with keywords in my webpages and post that people were searching for like “tuscaloosa gyms” or “tuscaloosa 24 hour fitness centers”. Then I added an Email subscriber form to the website. I had one at the bottom of the website and also I had a pop up form that would show up 5 seconds after they view the site. I used aweber email service.

3. Radio Ads
This was the crucial piece of the puzzle that drove my marketing efforts and made my gym successful.
I wrote my own ads. I only ran 15 second radio ads because that’s what I found to be the best bang for my buck and also folks would listen for 15 seconds without turning the radio. BTW, I almost always wrote funny ads

I would do what I called an ad blitz. I would run ads on monday, wednesday, and friday for 10 t0 15 times per day. You can get a great rate for running ads for a month long. usually I paid from $350 t0 $550 and believe me when it came to successful fitness marketing, it way more than paid for its self.

The radio ads drove folks to my gym website, then they would watch my video tour or sign up for my emails and or hopefully come in and sign up. You can get all my radio ads word for word in the book below

The beauty of all this working together was that it did my selling for me without me having to show them everything individually that usually took 30 minutes in person. they would usually walk in and say “I want to sign up, I already know how the system works from watching the video”. Now that’s Marketing!

If you’re looking for a successful fitness marketing system, get my book and see how I started my fitness center from scratch then converted it into a 24 hour fitness center then marketed it successfully for the next 6 years then sold it successfully.  If you want the complete 200 pages of my business biography get the complete book at www.how2ownagym.com

comments or questions email: shannoncook902@gmail.com
Shannon Cook

UPDATE: The podcast is now available here

Get the book then listen to the podcast to learn how to open a 24 hour automated gym

How I Opened, Marketed, and competed with 3 Big Box Gyms and thrived even with a smaller model Fitness Center by turning to a 24 hour access system

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Interview with Shannon Cook of fitnessmarketing.tv and owner of Temple Gym in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

How I Opened, Marketed, and competed with 3 Big Box Gyms and thrived even with a smaller model Fitness Center by turning to a 24 hour access system, and by using high quality used gym equipment, like that carried at usedgymequipment.com

Q: How did you compete against Planet Fitness and Worlds Gym and other big box gyms when they offer gym memberships for only $10 a month?

A: Thanks for the question; I’ve been through 10 years of battling big and small Fitness Centers in my town. I had to innovate 6 years ago to set my gym apart from the others. I had great equipment but I was off the main highway by 2 miles.

I had to learn unconventional marketing the old fashioned way after I tried to follow all the other gyms marketing, and to be frank, they suck at Marketing, thank God.
I studied everything about Marketing from old Marketing masters to the internet marketing masters that were all very successful.
I then come up with a game plan because I had very few dollars to throw at anything then.

I first decided to change my gym from a staffed gym into a 24 hour fully automated gym, fired all my employees, including my nephew, because he wasn’t cutting it. I did keep one employee that runs the gym 4 hours a day 5 days a week only, which saved me over $3000 a month instantly.

Then I began my marketing plans.

I went from 60 members to over 300 in 3 months.

I have laid my story out here first here to tell you how I competed against these gyms that were over 5 times my size.
I first changed my website totally to have email sign ups and a video tour just like as if the viewer had walked up to the door, and in the video I answered all the questions that they ask when they come in, believe me it’s not a professional video at all, but it converts like crazy.

I also added all the keywords to my web pages and post that I wanted search engines to find when directing searchers to my site. Keywords like “Northport gyms”, “Tuscaloosa gyms”, “24 hour gym in “Tuscaloosa”, and many more. I gave web searchers information they were looking for, not just my gym name and the same old bull crap like “great service and fitness equipment” or the worst one “we’re in business for the health of it”. They are looking for useful information

If they didn’t like what I offered then they didn’t come and waste my time or theirs if they were looking for a gym with classes or childcare which I do not offer.
One of the main things I had to offer that most big gyms don’t is the high quality equipment that I bought refurbished way cheaper than new and it never wears out. Equipment like hammer strength, body masters, and cybex.

I went the used gym equipment route because it was more affordable than new equipment plus people can figure out how to use it way easier than the new stuff most of the time because it looks more difficult.
I haven’t had any complaints about my equipment being bought used because it actually looks new, the only things I’ve had to change were the pads after a few years of use.
I searched long and hard for refurbished gym and used gym equipment suppliers and have found www.usedgymequipment.com to be one of the best because of their inventory of hardcore and new style equipment. they also have a great inventory that they keep me up to date with through email.

Q: How do you know what kind of equipment to get, say if you wanted to open a gym that catered to more women than men? or crossfit?

A: well, let’s say you’re opening a gym that you want to attract more women than men, get more cardio stuff, a few different AB machines, and weight stacked machines for lower body too. Women want to work on their abs and legs more than anything. Actually I’d call or email the folks at www.usedgymequipment.com and ask them what they recommend too.

Q: what do you think about crossfit equipment?

A: I love the crossfit idea even though I can’t do a lot of it because I had a hip replacement a few years back due to a bone disease I was born with.
I do however incorporate crossfit exercises that I can do into my routine like pull ups, shoulder exercises, rope climbing, and the overall fast pace idea that is crossfit.

If a gym opens up without a place to do pull ups these days their losing out on a lot of gym members. By the way, I have a ratio of 50% to 50% men to women in my gym and I’d say about 20% of women are now doing pull ups, including all the women clients I train, if they can’t do them on a pull up bar then i have them start on a smith machine with the bar down low like inverted pull ups or use a band wrapped around the pull up bar and put their feet in it to spot them and make it less weight for them to pull.

Crossfit women’s bodies are amazing to me mostly because their legs and arms look great, and every woman I know that see’s a crossfit woman says the same thing, they wish they had their body.
I also love the fact that www.usedgymequipment.com is carrying crossfit equipment now. I don’t have to order equipment from 3 different manufacturers now; it’s like the Wal-Mart of great used gym equipment.

Q: last question, If you had to start your gym over again today what would you do different?

A: I was listening to Brian Tracy, a self help guru 7 years ago and when he said, “If your business burned to the ground tonight and you were able to start fresh from scratch, what would you do different? What people would you not hire again? What sections of your business would you close? What would you change about your business that isn’t profitable?”

I actually did a version of this by stopping services and cutting employees that were unproductive and changing my whole gym persona from the bodybuilding only atmosphere to a closer cardio/bodybuilding equipment ratio that ladies and fitness fanatics alike were acceptable to.

I lost money every month and wanted not just to stop the bleeding but to make money and do what I love, which is marketing my gym.
So I transformed my gym into a 24 hour fully automated gym and tanning center and got rid of troublesome employees, learned how to hire one go getter employee that could run the gym 4 hours a day 5 days a week. I remodeled and remarketed my gym just as I had envisioned and took it from failing to success in 3 months of hard work. I have had to keep up my marketing mind you; marketing has to ever keep evolving every few months not years.

I have written a book about everything I went through over 10 years and exactly how I transformed my gym and how I marketed my gym successfully. I have examples and exact how to’s of my marketing campaigns and ideas along with picture proof how my marketing campaigns worked like radio ad copy, postcards, letters, and website traffic proof using my visitor counts from these campaigns. You can get the book at www.how2ownagym.com

Shannon Cook is the owner of Temple Gym in Tuscaloosa Alabama, the website www.fitnessmarketing.tv , an AD copywriter, consultant for opening, marketing, and converting fitness centers into 24 hour gyms, and the author of “How to start and market a 24 hour fitness center from scratch or convert your gym into a 24 hour gym”. Get the book at www.how2ownagym.com

contact Shannon at shannoncook902@gmail.com

The NO B.S. Book about How I Converted my gym into a fully Automated 24 Hour Fitness Center then How I Marketed my Gym successfully from 60 members to over 300 within 3 months

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

I’m so tired of people writing books about how to Start and Market fitness centers but they have never done it themselves. I have owned a gym for the past 10 years, and was in 2 businesses prior, one successful and one not, and I’m not afraid to tell you all about it in my book about how to start, or transform a gym, and market your fitness center from scratch.

I understand the saying “fake it til you make it” when it comes to portraying yourself as an expert until they actually become an expert. I didn’t have the money to follow someone who was faking it till they made it.

So I actually transformed my gym business from a failing gym into a 24 hour fully automated gym and started a marketing program that actually worked, and I tracked it to see just how much I was growing and with what worked and what didn’t.

I wrote this book in explicit detail on everything I did that failed and succeeded. Plain language is my hammer, experience is my nail, succeeding is the picture I hang on the wall beside the failures as proof of what has worked for my fitness center in this book.

fitness marketing book image

In my book “How to start a 24 Hour Fitness Center from scratch or Convert your gym into a 24 Hour Gym”, I give you a “CURRENT GYM OWNERS” view of how to actually start a gym from a gym owner, not someone who hasn’t had skin in the game. Get the book at http://how2ownagym.com

Will Herring, line backer for the Dallas Cowboys now, but former New Orleans Saints and former Seattle Seahawks player bought my book and then hired me to open his gym and do his marketing and he said he laughed all the way through the book because of the no nonsense way I wrote it. He said I didn’t have a very good grasp on grammar, but he said it was the information he wanted , not a great lesson in English. He didn’t know the half of it when it comes to me and spelling, and Microsoft word isn’t much better at catching my spelling mistakes.

For example:

I had a gym owner contact me one time about writing their marketing Ad’s and I replied to them in an email but my IPhone didn’t Capitalize their Name because I didn’t really care to make sure it was, I am a very busy person and that is not my top priority.

Anyway, they sent me another email and said their name starts with a capital letter. I said my answer to doing their marketing starts with “NO”. If you care so little about making your business that obviously you need to get some help, then I think you can over look some spelling and grammar mistakes.

I don’t care what people think about my style of writing, spelling, or how i just say what needs said. I only care about getting out what needs to be said in as plain a way as possible.

I’m not poetic about my writing, I take more of a 50 Shades of Grey approach to writing, just say it to where everyone with a 3rd grade education can understand it. My hobby is being a comedian so I also add a lot of humor to my writing, sometimes on accident. To get the book go to www.how2ownagym.com

I’d rather find a little crap in a bunch of nuggets. Here’s what i’m talking about.

I started a regular old fitness center 10 years ago, in a warehouse looking building 1.2 miles off a main road, and with no experience in the fitness but I did run two businesses prior to that, which taught me a great work ethic and business education for which I’m very glad for now.

I have made every mistake known to man about business, which you’ll discover in my book. I had fraud committed against me though when i tried to buy an existing gym to use their equipment to open my gym. by the way god does get those back for the wrong committed against one of his, the guy who committed fraud against me and suit me just got busted for $200,000 worth of steroids, guns, and liquid Viagra, which I’m not sure how they go together but I’m sure I can “come up” with something. see!

I have been sued and filed bankruptcy, not unlike some of the most successful people in our history like Abraham Lincoln, H.J. Heinz – Founder of the Heinz Ketchup Company, P.T. Barnum of Barnum Bailey Circus (probably one of the greatest marketing minds in history), Samuel Clements (Mark Twain), Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Ulysses S Grant, Thomas Jefferson, Larry King, Burt Reynolds, Etc…..

Now I’m not saying I’m in their class, but I’m in good class in that I did learn from my mistakes as they did. God made our brains with the ability to overcome and learn from set backs. I discuss many things I learned like bad marketing mistakes such as following what all the other gyms were doing, kind of like the churches do.

Most Church marketing so terrible. there are so many churches stagnate these days that if they’d listen to anyone but each other they’d be way better off. My church is included here. I tried to talk to the church leaders about marketing but they have the theory that “if you build it God will bless it”, tell that to all the Christian book stores and other churches that are out of business. it is after all a business isn’t it? don’t just produce a product, tell folks about it. that’s what I’ve done with my book and this website.

I give you useful information about my entire gym operation from scratch to now, and if anyone doesn’t want to pay $39 to learn my $200,000 worth of mistakes and come back and all my marketing that brought me back then God help them.

I got screwed like a French hooker on nickel night, and came back.

I know, you cant believe I just said that after talking about church, I told you I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, I think like that but I also believe in God, so that’s what you get with me.

If your dream is to start a fitness center or personal training studio, I recommend taking a few days to read my book and learn from my over $200,000 of mistakes and 10 years of gains from those set backs. To get the book go to www.how2ownagym.com

Two of the most important things i’ve learned in my 10 years as a gym owner is “Employee Management” and “Time Management”, I learned how to control both of these from two of the most important books a business owner could ever read, and MUST read. Both are by Dan Kennedy, both are in his NO B.S. series which I recommend getting every book in that series if your in business. The books are titled “No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs”, and the other is “No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits”. Get these today if you don’t have them, read them and then reread them. I have reorganized my business, Life, and my family and employees lives with these two books.

I breakdown a few of the most important things that I incorporated into owning a fitness center and managing a gym in my book. Like Gym cleanliness, which I consider one of the top must for a gym, if you go into a really nice restaurant and the restroom is filthy or there’s dust an inch on the ceiling fans, the place all the sudden loses 2 stars in your mind no matter how good everything else is.

I have a system for cleaning and making sure everything stays clean, and if its not, there’s gonna be more hell to pay than a tooth fairy in a town full of meth addicts.

You’ll also learn how to compete with big box gyms like Planet Fitness, which isn’t easy to do when they only charge $10 a month and I charge $45 a month

Removing Troublesome Members: I have had to remove 3 members from my gym in the past year also because they were idiots, and I’ll tell you about how to avoid these stupid people if you have the  same signals I had. I know as a business owner you’re suppose to be like “the customer is always right”, or “I cant afford to lose a member”, or in my case a few, because their friends left too. They returned later and admit they were wrong to have friends like that. to start with. get the book at www.how2ownagym.com

I lost long term members that didn’t want to say anything because of these idiots and the sooner you get them the hell out, the better.  There’s no politically correct way to tell someone you don’t like them or that they stink. PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE, I REPEAT, PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE, they hide it better sometimes. God is the only change for the better people make. If someone beats their wife, they always have anger issues and it will come out sooner or later, if they cheat, they will always cheat in a given circumstance. I know its not a popular view because we’re suppose to give our fellow man the benefit of the doubt, I have a business to run and a life to be successful in, I don’t have time to waste doing anything except praying for them, if God cant change them, I damn sure can’t. Get rid of troublesome members and employees at the first sign of issues you know are bad, NOT HEARSAY, CONFIRM IT FIRST, then act immediately.

I know I’ve went long on this but it can’t be understated. Be slow to hire and fast to fire!!! To get the book go to www.how2ownagym.com

If your ready to get assaulted like a drag queen at a tractor pull, then buy the book and learn from my failures and then my successes at owning a 24 hour gym.

If your on the fence about paying $29 for a book, then do what I did and learn the hard way by losing a few hundred thousand dollars because you’re too cheap to buy a book that spells it out in detail.

You’ll also learn my most successful marketing techniques and the ones that didn’t work, from radio ads to postcards to email campaigns

When you buy my book at www.how2ownagym.com you also get a FREE 15 minute consult with me on the phone about any questions you have.

 

contact Shannon at shannoncook902@gmail.com

Free Fitness Center Legal Membership Waiver Forms for Gyms and Fitness Centers

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Free Fitness Center Waiver Forms for Gyms and Fitness Centers that I use for my Gym

I’m giving you the benefit of a thousand dollars that I paid an attorney to draw up the legal part of my waivers so I’d be covered in case of an accident or just plain stupid folks trying to sue for any reason.

Thinking about opening or converting your gym into a 24 hour fitness center? ask me how to get the 24 hour system and software I use at my 24 hour gym by emailing me at fitnessmarketing@comcast.net

Now Here’s my gym membership form that I have modified as circumstances have arose. you can download them for free and open them into an editable file and change the name and address and phone number and a few other things to make it your own waiver then have a printer make them into duplicates. But First, I’d make the front page stuff then put all the legal stuff on the back page then have duplicate copies made in packs of 250

You may copy mine exactly except the logos. Be sure to have an attorney check it over especially if your in another state where laws may be different.

Now here’s the member contract back page legal info: