4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Opening Your Next Fitness Location
By Lauren McAlister
You've decided to open another location for your fitness business.
This is a major milestone in the growth of your business and the expansion of your customer base.
As you plan for this growth, there are lots of decisions to make. These range from choosing a location and decor to updating your fitness software and schedule.
As you transition from one location to two—or a few locations to many—pay close attention to the details to secure the success of each.
At MINDBODY University, we’ve talked with many of your peers about taking this next step and what to steer clear of. These business owners have made the same leap, found success, and have plenty of advice to give.
Here are four pitfalls they shared, and how to avoid them:
1. Choosing the wrong location
Location is everything. With multiple locations, this is especially true. Before signing a lease, really take your time to scout out each location-to-be.
In addition, you’ll also want to consider:
Does it align with your target demographic? Do your homework on the area. Find out if there's enough demand for your services. If not, you'll need to figure out what level of marketing effort (and budget) are required to create demand, and if it's truly worth the investment. If you want to reach a new demographic altogether, consider what adjustments you'll need to make at your new location to meet its needs.
What's the competition like? Is the area saturated, or can your business make a unique impact? Consider all nearby fitness businesses, both similar and different from your own—just because you have a H.I.I.T studio doesn't mean you should ignore yoga and Pilates businesses, and vice versa. After all, your clients' time is limited. If they're working out at another business, it's less likely they're sweating with you.
Does it complement or compete? Don’t cannibalize your existing location(s). Instead, figure out where your location "sweet spot" is. It should be far enough away to attract a new set of customers, but close enough that you won't be spending time and money traveling back and forth between.
2. Hiring the wrong people
You can’t be in multiple places at once, so you’ll need help to run your locations smoothly.
Hiring the right people is key, especially when it comes to who's managing. So much so that many businesses relocate existing employees, especially for management roles, to train new staff members and create a consistent culture across locations.
When onboarding employees, communication is key. Take the time to really explain and train to your business’s core values. After all, your employees are a direct representation of your brand.
Build relationships with each employee and reiterate their individual contributions as an integral part of the business’s success. The more ownership and comradery your new employees feel, the better.
3. Not having systems in place
Because you can’t be everywhere (wouldn’t that be nice?), you’ll need to have outlined processes in place and embrace automation as much as possible. Processes will make your life easier and help your employees too. Plus, it will ensure a seamless experience for customers.
Take the time to train each employee on your operations manual, including all of your outlined processes.
When it comes to having multiple locations, the “I’ll do it myself” motto can get business owners in trouble. Your team (and your software) is there to help you. Let them.
4. Building an inconsistent brand
Your brand is much more than your logo.
It’s everything your business stands for. That includes your approach to customer service, the experience you provide, and even the tone of your written marketing materials.
While your brand is intangible, it’s essential. In fact, it's likely one of the reasons you're successful enough to open another location.
That’s why maintaining brand consistency across all of your locations is key. While each location might differ slightly in aesthetic, vibe, or class schedule, the overall customer experience should be the same.
That means whatever customers love about your brand—e.g. personalized attention from instructors, exceptional customer service at the front desk, and/or high-energy workouts in class—should follow your business wherever it goes, including your newest location. Not exactly sure what your brand “secret sauce” is? Talk to your existing clients!
Running a multi-location fitness business is a challenge, but with enough preparation and an awesome team by your side, you can make it happen.