The Beginners Guide to Owning and Managing a Gym

This is an overview of everything you need to know about setting yourself up to be the best gym owner or manager you can be.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

BEGINNERS GUIDE TO OWNING AND MANAGING A GYM

 
Whether you’ve been in the game for a while, or you’re just thinking about opening a gym– let’s talk about what the best practices are when it comes to setting up your gym to be as profitable and successful as possible. 
 
Specifically, we will be discussing how to make your day to day operations as smooth as possible. 
 

STAFFING YOUR GYM

 
Unless you want to be working 90 hours a week and wearing every single hat imaginable, you’re going to want to build a team that you can count on.
 
In order to be able to focus on growing your business and managing a gym, you may need to hire staff such as front desk associates, trainers, a studio manager, a lead nurture assistant, and/or salespeople. 
 
So how do you find the right employees to fill these roles?
 

FINDING TRAINERS

 
When it comes to hiring, trainers are crucial. Not only are they the main interaction with your clients, but coaching is the most time consuming thing you could be doing as an owner. 
 
Some great places to find trainers are through colleges and universities. You can contact the professor of an exercise science class or career center and ask if any students are interested in an internship at your facility. 
 
You can also find candidates for an internship through certification organizations like NASM, ACSM, etc.
 
Another great way to find trainers is by asking your members for referrals. The great part of finding a trainer through a client is that they won’t recommend someone that they wouldn’t want to be coached by. 
 

THE HIRING PROCESS

 
For every role you hire for you will need a way to generate applications so that you have a stream of people ready to work for you. If you don’t use the methods above, sites like Indeed or Zip Recruiter are a great way to find candidates.
 
Once you have applicants, the next step is to select the most qualified candidates to invite to an interview. Speed is king when it comes to nurturing applications. 
 
After you have found the candidates that you would like to invite to an interview, we recommend a multiple interview process. The first interview being to get to know the individual and if they will fit with the company culture, and the second being a skills interview. During the skills interview you should have the applicant display their skills for whatever role they are applying for. For example a trainer could present a mock workout, and a salesperson would roleplay selling whatever they were selling in the past.
 

ONBOARDING AND TRAINING

 
The goal of the onboarding phase is to help a new employee integrate into their new role within your company. 
 
When managing a gym it’s essential that your employees feel well supported and are clear on their expectations. (For a full step by step guide to creating an onboarding document, check out our other hiring Blog here). It’s important to check in with your new employee one to two times a day for the first two weeks. The better you set them up for success in the beginning, the more likely you are to have longevity with your employees. 
 

HAVE A CUSTOMER ACQUISITION STRATEGY

 
One of the biggest mistakes we see Gym Owners make right off the bat is not having an acquisition strategy. If you are managing a gym, the lifeline is new clients. Hoping people hear about you is not the way to go. 
 
Word of mouth will only get you so far, and to make it worse it’s out of your control. A successful acquisition strategy is predictable and controllable. 
 
The best way we have found to acquire new members is through digital marketing such as Facebook and Instagram ads. These allow you to rely on data to know what content performs best, exactly how much a new lead costs you to acquire, and control your influx of leads.
 
Nearing capacity or overwhelmed with prospects? Turn down the volume of ads. Need to compensate for churn and fill your gym? Turn up the ads. 
 

CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CLIENT ENGAGEMENT

 
It’s no secret that the most successful businesses with the most longevity have excellent customer service. It’s especially important in the fitness industry when managing a gym that there is a sense of comradery and community. 
 
Clients will stay longer if your facility is a place where they build relationships, not just get a great workout. 
 
Some great ways to promote community are member events such as happy hours, outings like hiking, kickball/softball tournaments, and other member appreciate events every couple of months or every quarter.
 
Another great piece to customer service while managing a gym is checking in with every client by text weekly– How are their workouts feeling, are they keeping up with their nutrition, is there anything they would like to see improved, etc.This will help them get better results and ultimately stay longer. 
 
A strategy for retention that we also recommend is tracking attendance. Clients who don’t utilize your services don’t see results and ultimately wont stay. So, the best thing to do is run a report on your CRM or whatever you use to track attendance on Wednesday to see who hasn’t been into the gym yet that week. On Thursday, personally reach out to those members and make sure they are okay, and keep them accountable to the goals they set. 
 

THE MINDSET OF A SUCCESSFUL GYM MANAGER/OWNER

 
If you haven’t learned by now– mindset is everything when it comes to owning and managing a gym. 
 
Gym Owners with too many distractions fall into the trap of chasing the ‘shiny new object’. In order to successfully manage a gym it’s essential that you are the person who is focused on executing the basics. No amount of activity can substitute for laser focus.
 
Mentorship and coaching is also important in managing a gym. The fastest way to get better at something is to learn from those who have done what you want to do. Gym Owning is no place for an ego. Creating a community will help you to get where you want to go faster. You can find community through Facebook Groups, networking events or joining a coaching program with like minded business owners. 
 

BEFORE YOU GO…

 

Managing a gym is not an easy task but having a system to track your data and give you real feedback makes it a lot easier. Grow your Gym the smart way with data by using GymDash, a super easy to use Gym Management System.
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