Why don’t you guys have batting cages in your gym? Why aren’t you open for semi-private training in the mornings? Why haven’t you guys explored franchising your operation?
These are just a handful of the many questions that my business partner Eric and I encounter on an almost weekly basis. They all make sense. In fact, if I were observing a fitness business that clearly caters to a baseball-specific population, I would also wonder why pitching instruction is available, yet on-site hitting is nowhere to be found.
The answer to these questions, in part, lies in the answer to the question of why we decided to open our own gym in the first place. I can’t think of a better reason to start your own operation than to design a model that allows for you to enjoy your craft while maintaining some semblance of work-life balance.
That right there is exactly what we did.
People hear the term “cost-benefit analysis” and immediately assume there was a calculator involved. However, the exercise applies to decisions in gym ownership that can be as simple as determining what time to open your doors for the day. The answers to all three of the questions I opened with are driven by our willingness to prioritize quality of life over the tireless maximization of dollars collected:
1. We don’t offer hitting instruction in our gym because we don’t care to listen to the pinging of aluminum bats all day long. We’re cranky old men who don’t want to deal with that stuff.
2. We don’t open until noon because we have decided to serve a segment of the athletic population that doesn’t care to roll out of bed at 6:00am to train. We also realize that we deliver a better product following a restful morning that prioritizes our own personal affairs and training efforts prior to being locked in with clients.
3. We’ve chosen not to franchise to date because we’ve prioritized the quality of the product (and resulting brand image) over the need to scale geographically in a chase for a quick cash infusion.
In short, we’ve asked ourselves if the benefit of more dollars coming into our operation would offset the cost of compromising our own personal time, training outcomes for clients, and sanity within the workplace. The answers were no, no, and no respectively.
The end result? We filled our gym, during the hours of our choice, with the athletic population we selected. This was all made possible because we were (and continue to be) fired up to come to work every day, and remain singularly focused on the task at hand when we are here. A more engaged staff leads to a higher-quality client experience, and a great client experience enables the kind of word of mouth advertising need to allow for us to work exactly the hours we desire.
With this in mind, I encourage you, the gym owner, to be a little selfish as you firm up the details of your hours, services, and growth strategy. After all, it is YOUR gym, and you aren’t doing your clients any favors by creating a dynamic you are unhappy with simply because you’re chasing short-term dollars.