The health and fitness industry is booming across the globe, with fitness enthusiasts, business leaders, and those who are simply in search of a healthier lifestyle flocking to fitness centers and hard-core gyms in the pursuit of strength, endurance, and a chiseled physique. As an aspiring entrepreneur, this is your golden opportunity to capitalize on the ever-growing trend and launch your own fitness facility that will help people of all ages and genders reach these goals.
That said, you should know from the start that a fitness center is an investment. And a grand one at that. There is nothing inherently easy about launching or managing a successful business, so meticulous planning and preparation before the opening day will be imperative. With that in mind, here are the five key considerations you need to take to heart if you are to succeed in the competitive industry.
To Start a Business or to Join a Franchise?
First things first, it’s important to understand that you are not obligated to take the traditional entrepreneurial route. Launching your own business and building a brand from the ground up is financially, emotionally, and physically taxing work, and there is no guarantee that your venture will deliver the results you dream of. That shouldn’t discourage you, but rather it should inspire you to weigh the pros against the cons of joining a franchise, and if that might be a better solution.
Building your own business gives you the freedom and flexibility you need to create a unique, compelling, and simply amazing brand the fitness demographic will love, and it also gives you the decision-making power to structure the company the way you see fit. On the other hand, a franchise offers stability and mitigates many of the risks from the get-go. With its organizational and financial support, a franchise will help you step into the business world with a very high chance of long-term success.
Market Research and Brand-Building
Whether you choose to create your own fitness brand or to become a part of a franchise, you will still need to tend to meticulous market research and brand-building. Market research is a tedious and time-consuming task, but it is nonetheless an integral part of a well-constructed business plan that will give you the insights you need to build an appealing offer. Tend to the following:
- Local consumer market research. Find out everything you can about the local consumer market, including the demand for fitness centers, the demand for innovation, and how you can address the pain-points that trainees are experiencing.
- Create a SWOT analysis. Every company started with a SWOT analysis, so make sure to map your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in order to gain a 360 overview of your situation. Remember, knowledge is power.
- Research the competition and improve on their successes. Successful brands are not successful by chance, they are doing something well instead. Learn about their success stories, and brainstorm ideas on how to improve on their methods even further.
When it comes to building a brand, things tend to get more complicated and a lot more creative. Your brand identity is the heart and soul of your business, and it’s the only thing that has the power to truly separate you from the competition. In essence, your brand should aim to establish an emotional connection with your demographic and inspire them to become your loyal clients. Build a strong brand by:
- Defining core brand values.
- Weaving your values into your stories, messages, and content.
- Creating a compelling visual identity.
- Defining a unique tone of voice people will know you for.
- Creating a brand book your employees can follow easily.
- Disseminating your brand through marketing campaigns.
Creating a Floorplan and Procuring Equipment
One of the most important considerations for a future gym owner is how to best utilize the available space. The size of your facility will directly influence the number of services and programs you can offer to your clients. A weight room, which is the epicenter of any fitness facility, requires substantial space and proper exercise equipment for example, so you need to plan the layout carefully so as not to hinder maneuverability and flexibility.
On the other hand, the weight room is still a single area, and you need to offer more than that if you are to attract a diversified clientele. Other essential areas include locker rooms and bathrooms, and once you plan those out you can start integrating complementary features such as spas, pools, massage areas, group training areas, and of course, specialized zones for yoga, cycling, combat sports and more. Remember, the more you have on offer, the more people will you attract to your doorstep.
Building a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy
Marketing is one of the key drivers of success in the modern business world. You can have the best fitness facility in the country, but if nobody knows that it exists, then there is no way for it be successful in the long run. And remember, word-of-mouth marketing might be powerful, but there are only so many people that can come in via referrals alone. Instead, you need to build a comprehensive digital marketing plan.
Aside from building a responsive, beautiful website, optimizing it for local searches using effective SEO methods, and tending to rigorous search engine and social media marketing, you should also consider offline marketing as a way to connect with your local community. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed billboard or a well-designed flyer, especially for local businesses. That said, keep in mind that marketing is a drain on resources, so tend to the following to get the biggest bang for your buck:
- Your brand identity should be at the forefront of every marketing plan.
- Utilize a pull strategy by incentivizing people to check you out instead of forcing your offer on them.
- Digital marketing is considerably less expensive, so emphasize SEO, SEM, SMM, and content creation.
- Allocate marketing resources well-before the opening date in order to prevent financial setbacks.
Attracting the Top Talent in the Industry
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that your employees will be the biggest advocates of your brand. They have the power to make or break your business, which begs the need to find and hire the best talent in your market. Look for certified trainers and physical therapists with several years of experience under their belt and a proven track record. Teach them the ways of your brand and make sure they are acting accordingly on a daily basis. All of this will help with brand consistency and cohesion, while presenting a professional image to the public.
Launching a fitness center is like launching and any other startup, so instead of treating it as a hobby or a passion, you need to treat it for what it is – a business venture. Take a calculated approach, do your research, build a brand, procure the best equipment and allocate your resources wisely in order to build a thriving fitness center for the future.