Archive for the ‘Hiring the right employees’ 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

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

Mistake I MAY have made in getting rid of a problem causing gym member

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Mistake I may have made in getting rid of a problem causing gym member

I woke early one morning by a phone call from my gym manager saying i needed to come in soon and call this lady about a guy that scared her really bad the night before.

I got to the gym and called her and she began to tell me about what she called a “perv” she had seen the night before in the gym while working out , but she said she knew the guy through her dad that owned a business a few years before and this guy worked for her dad.

she said this guy used to always act like a perv and when he saw her in the gym he started harassing her and cussing to her about sex and other things, i should tell you that we are a christian gym, not pushy, but people know we don’t allow cussing in there. we just have a few christian symbols around and prayer boxes. so this guy knew better

then she said she went to the gym locker room to get her clothes and leave because she had enough of his asking her to go out and get drinks after she told him repeatedly she was married.

when she came out of the gym locker room and started to walk for the door, he yelled her name across the gym and while he was laying on a bench, he grabbed his private through his shorts and shook it at her.

I have a camera system and reviewed it and saw him talking to her but couldnt see him grab himself, but he was laying on the bench like she said, but the angle of the benches view was blocked by a cable machine.

my manager then told me about two more women he said were harassed by this man. he kept asking them out and they had to tell him many times that they were married and his response was to tell them “married people need to eat too”.

It didn’t look like this guy was getting the hint did it?

We’ll I talked to my wife and she agreed that if he was doing that then the only choice we had was to cancel his membership and refund some of his money.

Here’s where i MAY have made a mistake by jumping the gun before i called the other women involved to get their story.

Before i called him i asked my wife what i needed to say because i’m not very diplomatic with words.

Here’s what the conversation would have sounded like from my mind to my mouth:

Hi *****, i have had women telling me your hounding them like its spring break in high school, and they say your a pervert. I’m canceling your membership and refunding your last months dues, don’t come back or you’ll be arrested, bye.

Now here’s what the conversation sounded like from my wife’s mouth then from mine:

Hi *******, this is ****** at the gym. I hate to have to make this call, but i have had quite a few complaints from women members saying your harassing them and frankly, they are kind of fearful because your coming on too strong. I have no choice but to cancel your membership and refund your last months dues. I really don’t want to do this but have no choice, i hope you understand, i know you probably didn’t realize that you were doing it, I’m sure you were trying to be nice but it was taken wrong, but i cant have someone in here that uses foul language and makes gesture like that, it sends a bad message to our members that that’s acceptable, I’m very sorry, i wish you the best.

Doesn’t that sound better?

He was very apologetic about the incident, and got very emotional, but accepted the outcome graciously.

Then the mistake MAY have happened. One of the ladies that my manager told me accused the guy of hitting on called my wife and said the guys friend called her and asked if he offended her in any way by asking her out. She told my wife that he did ask her out but after she told him she was married he respected her and never mentioned it again.

My manager told me a different story, he said the lady said he wouldn’t quit bothering her. Then there was one more lady my gym manager said he saw the guy approach and he said something to her and she got off the bike she was on and left the gym.

I didn’t talk to the third lady, my manager said he didn’t know her name and hasn’t seen her since that incident.

The guys workout partner came in that afternoon and wanted to talk with me and my wife. he said he wanted to cancel because his friend was his workout partner and he was going to have to go with him to another gym, and he wanted to tell us that he was there the night before when the incident happened.

He said there was two sides to this story, which i pretty much knew but with two other ladies having issues also, it confirmed what needed to be done, or did it?

He said he didn’t think we knew it but the woman and the guy actually had a affair going on a few years back and the guy was trying to ask her out because he thought they might hook back up. he said the woman didn’t seem offended at all, she was joking back with him. he said the guy does act like a teenager about women sometimes, but it wasn’t like she said it was.

I told him if the guy would have done this outside the  gym it would be of no concern to me, but he did it in the gym, and i couldn’t have him doing stuff like and talking like that in my gym.

He understood, but he cancelled anyway, and i had to write a $450 refund check because he paid up front, i could have told him no and made him honor his contract, but i cant do that to anyone. Never make someone stay or pay for a service they don’t want in a case like this, they’ll talk bad about you and you WILL lose business i promise.

Then there’s 2 more members that joined because of him and they now will quit they said. so after talking to the other lady that said she wasn’t offended like my ,manager said, i now believe the first woman may have exaggerated a lot to get back at an old flame, and i think this because she left out the key piece of evidence that they had an affair, and she said that he was always a pervert from the time she met him, but she had an affair with him anyway. It doesn’t add up.

He was, in the end hitting on all the women in the gym it seems. I believe i did the right thing, but just as with George W Bush’s decisions, i guess history will have to decide if i did the right thing. I just guess i’ll have to hope mine turns out to be the Ronald Regan Decisions.

The point of this true story. Wait and interview all persons involved before making any rash decisions.

Shannon Cook can be reached at shannoncook902@gmail.com

To learn how to open a 24 hour fitness center, build and start a gym from scratch, manage a gym, and fitness center marketing, check out my book at www.how2ownagym.com

How to Start and/or Build a 24 hour Fully Automated Fitness Center, Gym, or Health Club from scratch, including quality exercise equipment, tanning beds, gym software, 24 hour access system, security system, and office equipment, just like I did

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

How to Start and/or Build a 24 hour Fully Automated Fitness Center, Gym, or Health Club from scratch, including quality exercise equipment, tanning beds, gym software, 24 hour access system, security system, and office equipment, just like I did

Learn from Shannon Cook, a current gym owner, former general contractor, commercial building landlord, and Fitness Marketing Consultant, how to go from your IDEA to the Grand Opening of your Fitness Center.

Also, how to convert an existing gym into a 24 hour fitness center by installing a 24 hour automated door access system, 911 system, and security cameras, and if that’s not enough, the gym door access system comes with a gym and fitness center management software system

 I’m so positive you will know everything about how to start a gym form scratch after reading this book, that i’m giving you 182.5 days, that’s 6 months to try it, and if you don’t like it, return it for a full refund

Why listen to me?

Because I did everything wrong before I did anything right. Fortunately I stuck with it and found some very successful businessmen to guide me, then innovated by turning my gym into a 24 hour fully automated gym, then spent over $15,000 to learn marketing the old fashioned way.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

First off, I’ll teach you how I took my gym from 50 members to over 300 in less than 3 months and exactly what I did and still do to make my little back woods gym one of the best known in my town.

Then you’ll learn;

HOW TO:

  • Research and Decide what kind of gym you want to open, from a 24 hour automated fitness center like the very popular 24 hour fitness and snap fitness, to a women’s only gym     
  • Incorporating or LLC?
  • Partnerships 
  • Franchise
  • Buy an Existing Club
  • Business Plan and Executive Summary
  •  Writing the Plan  
  •  Funding your Start up                                            
  •  Accounting for every dollar, for success             
  •  Naming your Gym   
  •  Becoming a Spy                                                     
  •  Location, Location, Location   
  •  Electrical
  •  Lighting 
  •  Air Conditioner and Heat Electrical needs           
  • Cable or Satellite hook up                                     
  • Phone service                                                         
  • Negotiating the Lease                                             
  • Choosing signage for Marketing your Gym          
  • Painting the interior of your gym                           
  • Insurance
  • Plans Drawn up for the building                            
  • The Build out                                                           
  • Getting the Permit for the Build out                       
  • Mirrors
  • Gym Equipment                                                      
  • Parts for gym equipment                                        
  • Flooring
  • Pro Shop Vendors                                                    
  • Office Equipment                                                      
  • Security System                                                        
  • Automated Door Access System                            
  • Gym Management Software                                      
  • Energy Efficiency in your building                          
  • Motion Switches for Lighting                                   
  • Ceiling Fans                                                               
  • Sound Systems and Cardio Theaters                     
  • Electronic Funds Transfer, (EFT) Bank Draft           
  • Accepting Credit Cards                                             
  • Childcare   
  • Waivers
  • Hiring Employees                                                      
  • Hiring Personal Trainers                                           
  • WIFI for members to use                                          
  • Lockers for your locker room                                  
  • Press Release Writing                                               
  • Marketing Checklist                                                  
  • Email Marketing                                                          
  • Website for your gym                                                
  • Google Adwords campaign creation and management                                                       
  • How to run a Grand Opening                                                   
  • Mailing List Companies                                             
  • Social Networking

If you want to know all the wrong things I did, here they are;

  • When I opened I picked the wrong location
  •  used the wrong subcontractors
  •  bought exercise equipment from the wrong people and also bought the wrong equipment
  •  finished my concrete floor with too little sealer
  •  painted some rooms the wrong colors for the right psychological effect (which you’ll learn)
  • Made the tanning bed rooms too small
  • Offered childcare when I wasn’t set up for it correctly
  • Hired the wrong employees
  • Hired the wrong personal trainers
  • Installed the wrong size air conditioner
  • Signed contracts for phone lines that I could have negotiated for a lot less
  • Used the wrong lighting
  • Got sued for $190,000 because of a contract that really didn’t exist (here’s where I made the biggest mistake in believing lady justice is blind, really justice has one eye open, and she’s looking for $$$ not justice), so learn what not to do.

I then turned my business around completely and figured out on my own what no one else would tell me, and I don’t blame them, after all, they learned the way I did.

 182.5 Day/6 month Unlimited Guarantee!!!

Anyone who has a dream of opening a business, and won’t invest in researching the in’s and out’s before going into it, doesn’t deserve to be in business, and probably won’t be for long anyway!!!

Over 200 pages, Instantly downloadable ebook now for only $39.99

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Shannon Cook is a marketing consultant to the fitness industry. contact Shannon for questions at shannoncook902@gmail.com