We have a story for you today. It’s about a gym on the brink of death and how we brought it back to life.
But more importantly, how we did it with:
- No additional investment – Just using the existing cash flow of the gym itself
- Negotiating with the right people – To save thousands of pounds a year
- Used the existing gym analytics – To drastically increase the membership
Across this 2 part story, we’ll not only help you predict the dangers of poor club management, but how you can learn from those mistakes and pull a fitness business back from the brink.
And if you stick with us to the end, we’ll help you avoid all of these pitfalls and save your gym!
Let’s start at the beginning, where we uncover the problems of a poorly run club.
How To Save A Failing Gym: The Problem
Prime Fitness in Redditch was a gym that had all the odds stacked against it.
It had already been abandoned when we arrived. The owners had walked out, leaving the gym on automated mode. The gym was 24/7 and the systems we’d put in place had automated the place to such a degree that its members weren’t even aware it was unmanned.
Members had arrived, checked in and exercised without even realising the gym was on the verge of closure.
So how does a gym that’s running so seemlessly get to this point?
A mixture of bad planning, lack of investment and a continued attitude to allow these problems to pile up had brought the club to breaking point.
The motto for running it until that point may as well have been:
See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.
Issues were ignored on a mass scale, and when the ongoing leaks finally got too bad, the ship was abandoned.
The Reason Why Gyms Fail
Sadly this isn’t a special case. Hundreds of gyms close every year, often in their very early years and it’s more often than not because naive managers quickly come to find out the truth: that running a gym is hard. It needs constant attention, not only in terms of the upkeep of the equipment and overall quality of the gym, but also when it comes to managing growth and the processes that allow for that growth.
What can seem like small problems that can be made up for with a quick extra job here and there, or simply putting in more hours to handle any inefficiencies, can quickly derail over time.
Everything can be under control and then something surprising comes up or a disagreement arises and everything can fall apart. Because if you’re not resolving old problems, then you’ve always got more to deal with, no matter how good you get at putting things off.
And you only have so much time in the world. And there’s only so many problems you can potentially deal with in a day. There isn’t always more time. It can and will run out.
The Key Problems We Found At The Club
We closely monitor all of our gyms, so it became obvious once it went quiet that something was going on at Prime Fitness.
We quickly arrived on the scene and got to work on finding out what had gone wrong.
From the outset it all seemed like a lost cause, but we wanted to properly investigate.
We found a laundry list of problems:
- The equipment was rundown, sometimes flat out broken
- The gym wasn’t regularly manned
- The gym was open 24/7 (we’ll go into this problem in a bit)
- Security was lax and members were sharing pin codes to enter the gym
- The gym was huge, yet many areas were completely unused
And the problems only got worse when we looked into the outgoings. The cost of the lease was too high and the energy bills each month were astronomical. This was partly based on a lack of accurate budgeting, partly due to a lack of negotiation with any suppliers but mostly it came down to a complete lack of planning.
The first place we turned to was the management system, which had been tracking all the analytics, from costs, intake and most importantly, member usage.
The membership attendance was very high, which was fantastic.
So what was the problem?
It seemed to be only a few members who were attending, several times a day, every single day of the year.
So what was causing this? Was it just a select few potential Olympic athletes in the making?
The Problem With A Badly Managed 24/7 Gym
Surprisingly not. It was instead multiple people using the same pin code to enter the gym. Dozens of members were using a single account. And this was all because the gym was not being manned or managed well enough to spot a problem that we discovered within a few hours of arriving.
Ashbourne are very aware of the problem that pin codes cause and that’s why we don’t use them.
We always provide fingerprint scanners as the most secure form of entrance, to successfully verify every single individual member, making it effectively impossible for multiple people to use the same membership (unless they are the 1 in 64 million people who share a fingerprint – but surprisingly that doesn’t happen too often).
But once again, there had been no update or thought put into the entry systems, allowing these issues to perpetuate until word got around and people simply weren’t signing up. People in the area were hungry to use the gym, because it was still a large and well stocked gym, but there had simply been no plan in place to combat these issues at their source.
Potential customers were using the facilities for free, when they could’ve been paying members.
That same data also showed us further issues, the largest being that even though the gym was open 24/7, only 5 people were using it during the night hours.
Tens of thousands of pounds a year were being spent to give 24/7 access to a just handful of members.
All the data was there to solve this issue. For months and years, no one had taken the time to check these in-depth analytics which at a glance would’ve immediately shown these glaring issues.
Thousands could’ve been saved. Members could’ve been engaged and brought in.
In theory this was a great gym and now it was too late to be pulled back from the brink.
It was a textbook case of a business that had been given up on and was likely just going to fade closure.
Or was it…?