If you've operated a reasonably successful facility for any period of time, the title of this post probably put a smile on your face. We've all heard it from people who would rather we bring our business to them, than they hop on a plane or get in the car and make a long drive to experience our services. I've got to admit, I used to get pretty excited about the idea of telling people I owned multiple gyms during the early years as we kicked this idea around.
Newsflash: No matter how excited some random stranger is about the idea, I'm pretty sure my business would not "kill it" in Anchorage, AK.
There's a common misconception in our industry that opening your own gym equates to the pinnacle of fit-pro success. Fortunately, word is getting out that running a gym is no cake walk. This is great news for some of the misinformed big box gym trainers who might not have had the chance to read my blog titled: "Because my boss sucks" is a shitty reason to open a gym.
Not surprisingly, though, there are very few people discussing the risks associated with becoming a multiple location business. Not every gym owner needs to aspire to open a second space (or franchise multiple locations). The mentality that if some is good, more is better could quickly put you in emotional distress and financial debt without a whole lot of net profit upside to show for it.
Sometimes more is just more. More expenses. More staffing nightmares. More competition to worry about. More landlord relationships to nurture. More driving around from one location to the next. Just...more.
The Abundance of Opportunities
I'm asked a couple of times each month if we'd consider opening a satellite facility or even franchising in the (insert random city) market where we'd "absolutely kill it" according to the person on the other end of the phone or email thread. Saying "no" without coming across as unappreciative is easy, especially if you can justify your decision with a concise and thoughtful response. I had the opportunity to do so this week, and thought I may be able to deliver some value by sharing my approach to politely declining the suggestion.
In response to a franchising opportunity in the midwest, I wrote:
While we truly appreciate the compliment of you offering to partner up in some capacity, we choose not to go the franchising/satellite facility route at this point in time for CSP. Due to the nuance of our individualized approach to assessment and program design, our biggest bottleneck in scaling the business responsibly is always going to be people. I'm not currently sitting on an abundance of exceptional candidates that I'd feel comfortable with handing the keys to our brand, so expansion isn't on our current to-do list.
- Opening a gym isn't a status symbol that declares to the world "I've made it."
- Once you own one, don't bite at every opportunity that presents itself. There will be plenty if you run a respectable operation.
- Always be prepared to explain your rationale for passing on opportunities. You may eventually conclude that expansion is the right move, and bridges are less likely to be burned if you fight the urge to hit someone with an abrupt "NO" the first time around.