12 Reasons Fitness Businesses Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeeds

Whether you are already a fitness instructor, a personal trainer, gym owner or are just now considering starting a fitness business, you will need to have a clear route to success.

Having had just released our newest course, the Master Personal Trainer (MPT) course, which is packed with Business and Marketing content, it feels like the perfect time to write about the 12 common reasons why fitness business fail and provide tips that will help you navigate a safe and successful path to business growth.

Let’s get started…

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1. There is no need for the service you offer in the market

Before you set up as a personal trainer or open your gym make sure that you know your audience and know your market. Avoid the mistake of just assuming that there is an audience somewhere, out there. You need to be able to get the core message of what and where your service is to this audience. You will need to research and discover the channels through which you will be able to reach and communicate with this audience.

If your research shows that in your local area the best audience for your service is young professionals then find out where the young professionals are hanging out and where they will be most receptive to your message: is it Facebook, Twitter, the noticeboard at the local coffee shop or the nearest Wholefoods and so on.

 

2. You picked a bad location

We’ve all heard the expression “Location, location, location.” Having the right location for your business is critical to your on-going success. From the clients’ perspective building up the motivation to exercise is often enough of a challenge in itself, from there on in everything needs to be as convenient as possible for them to ensure that they continue to workout (and to workout with you in particular).

Obviously you cant be on everyone’s doorstep (unless you provide a visiting service or work out of multiple different gyms), so you need to select your location wisely. Is it accessible to your target audience the one we talked about above- if it is great, if not then you are potentially setting yourself up to fail.
Take a little extra research time to decide on the location of your business.

 

3. You run out of cash

All businesses need liquidity and cash flow, this means you will need to budget and keep a keen eye on the books. Make sure that you control expenses and avoid overspending on “luxuries” at the outset, start off by spending on the essentials, make relatively safe bets to begin with.

You may dream of having the most luxurious changing room facilities to make your clients feel like they are in pampering surroundings. If however you haven’t got decent exercise equipment yet, the expensive changing area may just be a (good-looking) financial millstone around your neck. The cash would be spent better elsewhere, until you have accumulated enough profit to consider spending money on that aspect of the customer experience. Start off by spending on the essentials and making safe bets when you start out.

If you are working alone, do you believe that you have an adequate knowledge base and appropriate skillsets to be successful? Are you clear about the type of exercise you teach, can you communicate your principles well to your clients whilst motivating them? Enhance your individual abilities wherever you can: work on developing your charisma, smile be kind and have a positive attitude toward all those around you- this stuff is infectious and your clients will love you for it.

Invest in your education for your own development and for the on-going benefit your clients will get from your continuous cycle of development. If you employ others select the team around you wisely: do they share your values, what are their special skills, how can they contribute to the forward momentum of your business?

 

4. Haven’t got the right skillsets or the right team around you

If you are working alone, do you believe that you have an adequate knowledge base and appropriate skillsets to be successful? Are you clear about the type of exercise you teach, can you communicate your principles well to your clients whilst motivating them? Enhance your individual abilities wherever you can: work on developing your charisma, smile be kind and have a positive attitude toward all those around you- this stuff is infectious and your clients will love you for it.

Invest in your education for your own development and for the on-going benefit your clients will get from your continuous cycle of development.

If you employ others select the team around you wisely: do they share your values, what are their special skills, how can they contribute to the forward momentum of your business?

 

5. The competition is fierce

Some fitness businesses fail because they are surrounded by fierce competition and don’t stake a solid claim to a portion of the market. Don’t let that be you. Although price-cutting strategies can work, I strongly suggest that you compete on value and not on price. As a personal trainer it is very beneficial to have a niche approach, be a specialist, in our case the specialism is High Intensity Training. Be the best in your area at offering your niche service and very quickly price becomes less of a concern if you have selected your target audience wisely. They will value your niche service and may be prepared to pay somewhat of a premium to work with you.

 

6. Your pricing structure is poor

Some businesses go under because they overestimate the price that the market will bear for their service offering. Don’t be greedy, charge the right price for the service you currently offer based on your target audience and geographic area. A good plan when you are starting out initially is to set prices that will encourage people to come through your door and sign up in the first instance. You will of course need to price so that you are making an appropriate level of profit or else the business will not be sustainable anyway. Once you have got that first influx of clients based on your initial prices you can then consider increasing your price at appropriate increments as time goes by.

 

7. You lack business plan or direction

You need a clear vision of where business is headed, having a clear plan at the outset is important. However sometimes this is where business owners stop, they write a business plan at the outset of their journey but they don’t revisit it and update it as time goes by. A stale business is a dying business, the path that you were on a year ago may still be appropriate, but chances are it needs adapting or tweaking. Avoid taking things for granted once you are up and running and have established some degree of success, keep looking to see what you can do better, how can you improve your service and the profitability of your business. Perhaps you need to consider buying a new piece of equipment, opening a second gym or bringing a new trainer into the business… forward movement is essential to long-term success.

 

8. Your marketing is poor

Some businesses fail due to the fact that they are unable to convey the essence of their business effectively to the potential client, to their target audience. If you have done everything else right and you know where to communicate to your target audience, you now to know what will engage them, attract them, make them begin to consider your service as something they want and need in their life. Look around at how other companies are communicating to your target audience- is there a theme, an underlying trend in the way communication occurs in content, style and delivery. What does your target audience consider important? A bride needing to fit a wedding dress needs to be communicated to differently from a low back pain sufferer: segment your audience and talk to their needs and concerns in your marketing messages.

 

9. Your customer service is poor

It is worth remembering that the customer is king and queen, the customer or client does not have to turn up to their appointment with you every week… they can walk. And one of the top reasons a customer may walk is that they feel undervalued or if they perceive that they are experiencing poor customer service or a level of service below that which they have come to expect from you. The key here is to listen to your client, listen to their needs, spoken and unspoken ones and do what you can to provide customer service that is better than they will experience anywhere else. If part of your role is as personal trainer you will need to subtly adapt your coaching style and your communication for each client, to enable them to feel engaged and getting the most out of each workout you put them through.

 

10. You failed to inspire clients and deliver on promises

Some exercise businesses fail because they do not genuinely inspire over the long haul or they fail to deliver on promises made to the client at the outset of the relationship. To avoid this from happening to your business it is important to be clear in your communication to the client from the very beginning of the relationship (including marketing and advertising messages). This also means not making promises that you cannot keep- don’t guarantee someone they are going to look like their favourite supermodel, actor or fitness hero, unless of course you believe it is within the realms of possibility for the particular individual in front of you. Give each individual a realistic appraisal of their goals at the outset of the relationship and strive to help them achieve the best physical shape they are capable of.

 

11. You lack passion

Most individuals are capable of at least getting temporarily excited and animated talking about the notion of starting a business. To move from that place, to formalising a business plan, financially committing and driving the business forward requires passion, a lot of sustained passion. Many fitness businesses that fail do so because the passion was never really there in the first place or the passion was built on weak foundations. Avoid that from happening to you by nourishing your passion with discipline, commitment and focus. Allow yourself to celebrate small victories on route to keep that passion stoked up, replenished and capable of pushing you and the business forward.

 

12. You lack sound advise

Some fitness businesses fail because they lose their way at a time when a simple piece of advice could have got them through a temporary challenge. When you are working on a business day to day, in the thick of it, you may not always see all the viable answers. Think of those TV shows where a successful business person visits a failing business to offer advice and help turn them around. Often, when the business owners are receptive to the advice, they suddenly see why their business had been failing in a certain area and the potential for improvement. Talk with family and friends about the business challenges you face or get in touch with a fitness industry expert – see what input you get back.

 

We’ve looked at twelve reasons that fitness businesses fail and we have seen there are usually low-cost, simple approaches or changes that can be made in each of these areas to help you and your business avoid these pitfalls and steer your way clear to success. Keep this article in mind when starting out in business and at anytime you are concerned for its future.

 

This article was posted on October 28, 2015 by in How-tos, Personal Training


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