From the outside, being a fitness studio owner can look like a walk (or jog!) in the park. But those who live the day-to-day of owning a small business know how tough it can really be and how getting it right can be one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences.
While most don’t get involved in the fitness industry to manage people and crunch numbers, it’s important to run the studio on sound business principles to impact more people — to improve their fitness, health and wellbeing.
Many studio owners struggle to find their footing during the first lease cycle. We chatted with Jack Thomas, Fitness Business Asia podcast host and CEO and founder of BASE in Bangkok, to understand the toughest challenges studio owners deal with and explore ways to navigate them. Read on for tips from Thomas to overcome common pitfalls and develop strong, healthy clients — as well as a strong and healthy business.
Problem: Not viewing your studio as a business
“Setting up a fitness business is exactly that — a business. Being a great coach is a good start but carries a very different skill set to that of a successful business owner,” Thomas says. It’s important to continue educating yourself and to stay up-to-date with industry news, trends and vital skills for your business.
Solution: Thomas suggests investing in yourself and your company by learning about all aspects of business, including marketing, sales, human resources and finance.
Problem: Not understanding the importance of sales
“I don’t like selling.” “My product sells itself.” If you find yourself saying these phrases as a fitness business owner, it’s time to revisit your sales framework. “Our clients need our services and so we have an absolute obligation to sell them what we offer and help them get fitter and healthier,” says Thomas.
Solution: Thomas advises that in this industry more than any, you need to see sales as a service. “It’s not about pressuring them to buy a big package, it’s about inspiring them to make a positive change and invest in their health. Reframe it and employ staff who enjoy selling and providing good service.”
Problem: Not being your product’s biggest fan
Your studio or gym should be your favorite place to train. If you find yourself working out elsewhere, identify what’s missing from your own space.
Solution: “Joining classes because you feel like you should won’t help,” says Thomas. “Create something you love that you willingly want to be a part of every day.” Bringing on coaches who are equally passionate about your product is another way to ensure you’re creating the right atmosphere.
Problem: Working in the business, not on the business
The fastest way to burn out is to try doing it all. If you find yourself training clients, working late on admin tasks, plus cleaning the floors and windows, consider where you’re spending most of your energy.
Solution: “Write down every single task that you do and, over time, phase out the ones that other people can be hired to do. Repeat this process until your duties are things that you — and only you — can do,” Thomas advises.
Problem: Focusing too much on the competition
Thomas says knowing what’s going on in your market makes good business sense. But being obsessed or overly worried about competition brings your focus to the wrong place and will burden you with extra stress.
Solution: Thomas suggests identifying what you and your business stand for (as well as what makes you different) and doubling-down at being the very best you can be.