Archive for the ‘Open a gym from scratch’ Category

How I Spent my last $500 to Marketing my Fitness Center and made it successful

Monday, December 7th, 2015

How to Market a Fitness Center with as little as $500 and turn your fitness business around 100% with these fitness business apps and Gym Marketing Tactics that I used to take my Gym from 46 to 304 members in less than 3 months, and doubled my membership prices and stayed there without fighting the price wars all other gyms fought around me

I know what I would do because had to do it.

I was down to what I decided was the last $500 I would put into my gym business and if it didn’t work, I’d get out.

My wife and I decided after being in business for 5 years of owning a regular gym, We agreed that if we didn’t get more than the 46 members we had, we’d fold up tighter than a 7th grade love note.

For the first 5 years after I started my gym I followed all the other gym and marketed the same way they did, which was not at all or with cheesy display ads. I couldn’t find the right gym marketing system in the daylight with a flashlight.

What I did was spend a whole month doing the following to Market my Gym:

To begin with, I changed the colors of our gym from the dark depressing blue to a Yellow and Orange Sun Burst color for the feeling of energy.

I even worked Christmas day and New Years day painting. But while I painted, I bought every Marketing audio book I could and listened to them while I worked. Needless to say, I was so hyped up from all the learning and ideas flying around my lightly haired head that I  couldn’t sleep at all. I couldn’t wait to start on Marketing my gym.

I started at night practicing writing and perfecting my 4 page Brochures, yes 4 pages, and YES they were read completely by most. What I did was, after I built my website in the beginning, I basically printed a copy of my website and put them in a clear “Take One Box” on the outside of the door to my gym. This was a great tool because most people if they came up during non-open door hours, would get one and have all the info they could stand about the gym.

P.S. Put prices and membership options on your brochures and website for all to see. Your’e not a used car salesperson and have the “If I can just get them into the door” mentality. You’ll lose business faster than a hooker with a fever blister.

NOTE: I had already converted my gym into a 24 hour Fitness Center at this point but still had no one coming in and I couldn’t figure out why. Here’s what I found out over my 11  years of owning my gym and making it successful.

Fitness Marketing Separation-  definition by Shannon Cook: Being in a crowd of other gyms, holding your gym up and waving it like hell until the prospect notices you and ask you “why should I come to your gym over all these others surrounding you?”, Then giving them reasons until they say OK! 

So…. I got the painting done, cleaned the place like the bathroom at Ritz Carlton lobby, then went to Marketing.

Here’s what I would do TODAY if I only had five hundred dollars and One month to make it work or go under.

  1. Website: Even the 70 year old people now are using “The iphone” as they say, to look everything up. If you aren’t following everything I laid out in the book, its too much to go in depth here, but I’ll condense it like the 12 days of fitness marketing if I can.

After you read this post go to www.templegym.tv and you can see the template I used that works as well as any gym’s website ever. But come back here after you take a gander.

2. Email Auto Responder get an Email Auto Responder system from aweber, and start collecting emails, I can’t tell you enough what this will do for your business, but you must send the right emails out, no crap like catch phrases. Nothing like “your gym, your life”, would you open that? I don’t think so. This is where a copywriter can help you, I learned from writing hundreds of emails what would get opened and what wouldn’t. Click HERE to get your aweber account going now.

Something like “I’f I get divorced I’m blaming you”. that got opened a lot, then of course you have to keep them reading past the title all the way to the end. In the end I led them to a special I was running at the gym and I may get divorced for doing it because it was so good, like when I first started offering a 30 day guarantee which my wife didn’t really like at all, but ended up trusting me.

3. Video Tour- After the website was right, then email form in place, I then made a video tour. click the link to see mine. This was the best salesperson I ever had. It pre-sold 95% of my memberships for me. Prospects would come into the gym and I would start to show them around and they would almost always say “no thanks, I know how everything works, I saw your video”

4.  Have A Guarantee!-   You will probably be scared to do this one, but its a proven fact, If your product or service is any good at all then you’ll have very few returns. I only gave money back one time ever! Out of hundreds of memberships sold.

I found it worked so well that I went to a 60 day guarantee the last two years and never had one come back and ask for their money back. I believed in my gym, I even offer my book “Marketing Dumbbells”with a 6 month guarantee because I’ve only ever had one person want their money back after reading it too. Your not the gym for everyone, but a gym is an emotional experience and once they actually make the decision to try you out basically they’ve decided almost no matter what they don’t want to go through the process of changing. I have also found out that after they have joined my email list, they usually take 3 to 6 months to decide to join, but after their in your gym marketing funnel along with 300 others you can imagine how the compound effect starts to roll and there’s always someone coming in from an email or the website.

Everything I just mentioned, Getting a website template and hosting account, email auto responder,  youtube video and put it on your website, and Offering a Guarantee will only cost you less than a hundred dollars.

Then i’d spend the remaining $400 on radio ads.

5.  Radio Ads- Yes, I’d pour every last dime into radio ads, not facebook ads or google ad words, If I had to make sure my message got out asap or I was going to be out of business, I’d do this one last thing. A radio ad blast. I had such good luck doing the combination of the above things, then radio ads, that I’d spend my last dime on them. click on the text to be taken to my website where you can hear some of my radio ads for yourself.

Here’s how I used the combo from all the things above:

The Radio ads drove people to call or to the website, the website to the email sign up form or to watch the video tour, the sign up form to the emails themselves, the emails to the website or the gym, the Guarantee hopefully sends them over the edge of just “thinking” about it to “trying” it out.

Now, if you want to find all the above fitness marketing tactics and how to start a 24 hour gym in exact detail, go to www.marketingdumbbells.com 

 

To get all the secrets about how to Market your gym and turn your business around, get the book now.

Get the Book “Marketing Dumbbells” to discover exactly “How I took my Gym form 46 members to 304 in less than 3 months”


 

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

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: