As a fitness professional, you know the importance of location. Considering moving spaces or opening a new facility? Similar to residential real estate, commercial real estate has its peak and slow seasons throughout the year. When it comes to looking for your next gym or studio space, understanding the best time to sign that lease could save you exponentially in the long-run. However, pricing isn’t the only factor you need to consider. From moving equipment to customer vacation patterns, we’re breaking down the right time for you to do the heavy lifting.
Browse before your lease is over
If you’re looking to make your next move at the end of your current gym or studio lease, don’t wait until the last second. Give yourself at least six months to do your research and get the business ready to relocate. While you don’t need to pin down an exact spot six months out, you should at least narrow down the area and know what your options will be once the time comes. Moving your business is a big deal, have enough time to make the best decision for you and your customers.
It’s wise to give clients as much advance notice as possible. Once you’ve settled on a space, let them know where your new location will be, and when you’re going. This information can be added to a studio newsletter, posted on social media and/or added to your studio’s website information.
Plan for seasonality
Following along the lines of residential real estate, the best months to find the desired prices in the commercial real estate world are March through August. During this time of year competition helps to drive down monthly lease prices. Supply and demand at its finest. But, while this is the best time to sign for your budget, be aware that everybody else is out shopping too. That’s why doing your research early is key to narrowing down your search — come into the market prepared to make a decision.
And for studio or gym owners, these warmer months are also best for moving all of your equipment. Unlike some commercial businesses, chances are yours comes with weights, benches, and machines that will need to be relocated. Moving in the spring and summer will help reduce your chances of encountering unpredictable weather to trek all of your gear through.
Months to maximize
After August, prices start to inch back upwards with January being the absolute worse time for your wallet. If it’s not possible to avoid January for your new lease, you might want to consider hiring a commercial real estate agent or broker to help you negotiate prices. Having someone experienced with the local commercial real estate scene can prevent you from getting stuck with a price that you’re not ready for.
Another month to keep in mind is July; while this is in the “peak lease season”, if you’re planning on opening your new location in the summer, it’s one month to avoid. With vacation in full-swing and summer weather keeping people outside – hosting your grand opening in July might not gain as much traction as earlier or later months in the year.
Details to consider
Outside of timing, here are a few commercial real estate factors to note as a business owner in the fitness industry:
- Maintenance – be sure you have a maintenance manager or technician who stays on top of your facility’s needs. Issues are bound to happen, but having a gym or studio without heat in the winter or a functioning A/C in the middle of a heat wave will cost you customers. Know who will be there to help before you sign.
- Customer location – don’t move away from your client base. While this tip seems like a given, relocating out of downtown for a cheaper rate is always appealing. Just remember that the cheaper payments won’t move your business forward if customers stop coming. Stay close to the people that help you build your name.
- Noise limits – talk to your landlord or leasing agent about what type of business you are before you sign. If there are other businesses next door, they might complain about the booming studio music and mic’d instructors during your 6 a.m. classes. Be upfront before you lease, so all parties are aware of what type of business is moving in.
- Parking – ensure that your customers have adequate parking options for your space. Often convenience is the deciding factor for a prospective client, so put yourself in their shoes. If the parking is tricky, offer tips and guidance for where to park for a smooth customer experience.
Navigating real estate can be one of the biggest hurdles of running your fitness business. Subscribe to After Class for more facility-related tips.