How Healthy Is Your Fitness Club Business?


Our business is to sell health and wellness to our members, but how healthy is your business? Next month at the Club Industry show in Chicago, I will present a seminar to help club owners determine how healthy their businesses are, but I'll share a preview of that here.

Most club owners in today's competitive environment are struggling to increase, or at the very least, maintain their member retention rate.

If you are looking to find a way to increase retention and you want to reduce cancellations, then you need to recognize where the problem starts.

Every time a member calls or comes into your club, you have an opportunity and a choice. What choices are you making to get and keep customers? What is the reality of your customer service? Is it lousy, satisfactory or memorable? How do you create loyal — not just satisfied — members?

The most widespread problem for people in club management is getting too preoccupied working in their business and not working on their business.

When working in your business, your focus is on what issues need attention now, rather than reflecting on what needs to be done to improve the business to make it easier to manage and easier to succeed.

Experienced leaders learn that you never try to solve every problem. If you do, you may never really solve problems because you are so busy relieving symptoms rather than removing causes.

Working on your business means discovering what underlying causes would eliminate a handful of problems if you removed them.

To help you focus on your club business and work on making improvements, Will Phillips of REX Roundtables has prepared a short business checkup of 20 items. It is based on experiences at about 100 clubs that were coached over the past two decades. I'll expand on this business checkup during my Club Industry presentation at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 in Chicago.

Here are seven steps based on this checkup that can increase the health of your business:

Step One: Make copies of the business checkup for your management team and ask them to fill it out after you encourage them to be completely honest. Now, fill in the checkup yourself and compile all the answers onto a single copy so you can see all the responses at once.

Step Two: Select one item to focus on for the next three to six months. Choose one that you think will be significant for improving how your club or clubs operate.

Step Three: Compose a “getting better” team to help in the steps below. This team consists of you and a few others who work together. You should understand the issue, plan a solution and track the implementation until it succeeds. Enlisting a team gives you a better chance of being successful.

Step Four: Refine your understanding of the item from Step Two. Talk with people and ask them what the benefits would be if you improved this item. The purpose is to better define the issue by understanding the causes and effects.

Step Five: Learn about how others have addressed this issue so you can build on their experience and not reinvent the wheel. You can search for solutions online or by visiting other club owners to see how they addressed the issue.

Step Six: Your team should formulate a solution, spell out desired results and set a deadline. The team can then implement and monitor how well the solution is working or not working.

Step Seven: Go back to the business checkup and select the next issue to solve. Plan on solving three issues on the checkup per year. Continuous improvement is what makes the difference in a healthy business.

Ed Tock, a club sales and marketing consultant, specializes in performance/profitability programs. He also is a partner in REX Roundtables. He can be reached at 845-736-0307 or [email protected].

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