Are you feeling exhausted by your fitness business because no one can do things as well as you? If you were to take a vacation would your whole business fall apart? If this is true, then you own a job, not a business. You likely want the freedom that comes with having your own successful business.

According to the SBA, 400,000 small businesses fail each year. A recent publication by Results Fitness noted that 16 out of 17 gyms fail. The reason they fail is a lack of business systems. SYSTEM stands for Save YourSelf Time Energy and Money. Franchises have this figured out which is why there is a 95% success rate with franchises as opposed to a 50% failure rate with independent businesses. Here are a few of the systems you will need to have in place before you open your own business.

Understand the importance of the right name for your business
One of the first things you will have to understand about your business is how to name your business. The name of your business will have to do two things. First it should tell your customer what it is that you do. The name of our fitness center in Elmira, New York is Journey Fitness because we want people to know that our business is a place where they can take their fitness journey. The name of Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove's fitness center in Santa Clarita CA is "Results Fitness" so that people know that their business produces fitness results.

The second thing the name of your business should do is avoid being personalized. While it is nice to see your name on a sign and sometimes even helpful to a degree when you have built a great reputation in the area, it can be counterproductive in the long run. If, for example, your business is called "John's Fitness," then customers will join with the expectation they can train with you and they will think that they are getting second-rate training when they train with someone else. This is problematic when you become too busy or when you want to open a second location.

Decide what product your business sells
The next step is that you must figure out is what product your business sells. You may be thinking you are going to sell gym memberships, personal training or both but you are going to have to go much deeper than that. Personal training and gym memberships are just the commodities your business sells. The McDonald's business provides reliable service is 60 seconds or less. To the people who come to McDonald's, service is more important than the quality of the burger. So what will you sell? Sports performance? Weight loss? In what consistent, reliable manner will you sell it every time? The top two reasons people leave gyms are because of a lack of results and a lack of cleanliness. So at Journey Fitness, the product we sell is fast weight loss results in a clean, fun environment. The commodity that people buy from us most often is group personal training packaged with nutritional counseling.

Figure out who you will sell to and why they will buy from you
Understand your demographics by starting with looking at the 12-20 minute drive-time radius of your business and then focus on the psychographics of your area – understanding why they will buy your product. Customers buy when they perceive value from a business they can trust.

One of the top ways to convey value and build trust with your customers is through the use of testimonial advertisement. Your potential customer has two questions that need to be answered, "Will I fit in?" and "Will I get results?" If you use testimonial advertisement from an actual customer and not a fitness model then the ad will answer both of these questions.

Plan your marketing strategy

After you know what you are selling and to whom, there are over 17 ways to market, some more effective than others and some being a "must" such as Facebook and a website. As in all areas of your business I suggest having a systematical, mathematical approach to marketing. Cap your marketing budget at 10% of your gross monthly revenue. Also analyze the marketing that you need to do by how many sales you need to get. For example, a 3,000 square foot personal training center will need to sign up three members per week. That means based upon an industry standard of a 60% conversion rate you will need 10 inquiries per week converted to 6 appointments per week that will then be converted to 3.6 sales.

Write your operations manual
Finally before your business opens it is essential that you have an operations manual. Every successful franchise business has an operations manual but most independent businesses do not. Everything that your business does from the marketing we just described, to the way you answer your phone, your sales process, your intake process, your member tracking process, the way your sessions are conducted and even how you keep your business clean must be spelled out in an operations manual and communicated to your staff on a regular basis so that the product your business sells is delivered the same way every time.

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How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?