Cameron Falloon, founder of Body Fit Training, shares his advice for establishing a successful fitness business
Opening a gym comes with plenty of challenges, especially when owners view it as a purely commercial opportunity. However, since the pandemic, the desire for fitness franchises to cater to people’s mental and physical needs has never been more significant.
The secret to running a successful fitness franchise is creating an ethos that values every individual that walks through the door, helping them to progress, feel important and reach their fitness goals. Not only does this help business owners retain their members, but it encourages referrals to friends and family.
According to Statista, there are over 7,000 health and fitness clubs in the United Kingdom, with over 10 million combined members. Although Germany has the highest number of health and fitness club members in Europe, the UK is still considered one of the continent’s major fitness hubs.
This proves that if you’re a fitness enthusiast or personal trainer wanting to open a gym, you can have confidence that there will be plenty of interested people.
However, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) states that 81 per cent of health and fitness centres fail in their first year of operation due to inadequate management or lack of sufficient profit margins. To prevent being just another number, it is essential to emphasise the service you offer every member, whether it is high-quality personal training sessions, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, a fitness app, etc.
These tips can improve your fitness centre’s financial success as well as maintain customer engagement and satisfaction.
Engage with your local community
Engaging with people from the local community is a great way to make a difference with your gym. Going to a gym is quite daunting for most people, so getting yourself out there is a great way to meet potential members and let them know that you are providing a safe space while ensuring your health club generates various benefits and business development opportunities.
There are a few ways to participate with your local community, such as offering membership discounts through purchases at local amenities or partnering with local charity events. You could also ensure you are present at community events – quiz nights, street parties, fun runs – giving out freebies or setting up a stall where people can come and talk to you. Offering to speak and give advice in local schools, societies and clubs are also beneficial.
Get an online presence
A strong online presence can help potential customers find you. 81 per cent of people search online before buying a product or service.
You can utilise social media when connecting with people in your area. It is an effective way of transferring your fitness club culture to the local community. Using sites like Instagram or Facebook to hold online fitness challenges or competition giveaways will raise your profile and incentivise membership involvement while developing a community feel for your fitness club. Also, using social media platforms means you can engage with your members outside your gym’s visiting hours – this way, your brand appears more welcoming and approachable.
Build a bond with your customer base
Creating a sense of belonging in your gym is one of the most important assets to your fitness studio. If your current members feel like they are part of the community, they will keep coming back. And they will also be more likely to recommend your facility to co-workers, family and friends, which is critical to the success of any franchise owner.
People frequently sign up for gym memberships when they feel a surge of motivation. However, after a few weeks, they often lose their enthusiasm and get bored of doing the same thing over and over. In fact, according to Noob Gains, the majority of health clubs and gyms lose 50 per cent of their new members within the first six months. Getting past this challenging period and converting new members into long-term customers should be your primary goal.
To do this, it’s essential to train your staff to approach and engage with your members. The best advocates for your club are your employees, as their interaction with members can lead to increased member visits. Strong membership engagement can generate further sales, as satisfied members are far more likely to recommend your fitness club to their peers.
Keeping customers engaged through various workout programmes is also essential to retaining customers. For example, Body Fit Training has a variety of 13 programmes, including cardio, strength training, functional, and core stability, which provide members with a varied fitness programme. This ensures members see great fitness results, stay motivated and feel challenged throughout their time with the club. When you combine various training methods with a coaching team that facilitates an inclusive environment that is positive and friendly, your fitness franchise is on the right track to success.
Share the load with your franchisor
The beauty of taking up a franchise opportunity is that your franchisor knows the ins and outs of the business. They will already have the marketing materials and systems in place to let you focus on providing excellent customer service for your members. They will also have tips and tricks to boost member satisfaction and approach customer retention, whether talking directly with them to get feedback or a reward scheme offering perks and loyalty programmes.
A good franchisor will provide a network of like-minded franchisees and a platform to ensure your continued growth and support, as well as offer extensive ongoing training, weekly and monthly update webinars, and one-on-one support as your business matures.
About the author
Cameron Falloon is the founder of global fitness franchise, Body Fit Training. With over 25 years in the health and fitness industry, Cameron has travelled the world and worked with varying populations from chronic rehabilitation patients to elite athletes and the rich and famous.