July 1 2017

Essentials for your fitness business beyond industry trends


Every year you see the new trends reports come out from various sources. They tell you what their organization, or the experts they work with, predict will be hot trends in the coming year. Looking back over the last few years it seems that the trends haven’t changed much. You will see wearable technology, group fitness, bodyweight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) popping up.

However, these lists do not give you much insight into the impact, if any, trends will have on your business. Are you likely to shift your training programs to feature bodyweight exercises only because it is a hot trend? Doubtful. Instead of focusing on trends, let’s look at where our industry is headed and how that impacts you and your business.

Make customer service centerstage

Few business owners would admit that their customer service or customer experience is lacking. In fact, most will tell you the exact opposite, even if it is not true. As technology allows you to grow and automate aspects of your business it is important to keep the client experience front and center as you decide which technology to use.

Recent surveys conducted by American Express have shown that 78% of consumers have ended a transaction or not made their intended purchase because of a poor experience. On the other hand, customers have reported a willingness to pay more for great service. Use technology and automation to make the experience better for your clients, not just easier on you as the business owner. There is still a huge need for personal interaction and the helpful hand (or voice) of a real client service representative. The difference between mediocre and great service can drastically impact your sales.

Integrate technology

The collection of data and personal information is exponentially increasing. This data can be incredibly useful for business owners and it is extremely beneficial to be able to track information relevant to your clients’ success like steps, heart rate, sleep and nutrition.

There is a rapid increase in the use of heart rate monitoring during training sessions, the use of heart rate variability to monitor recovery and using wearable technology to monitor clients’ activity outside of their sessions. Unfortunately, there are very few places that keep all this data in once place and give you the ability to filter it so you are getting the most relevant data.

For now, these technologies will give you an advantage over your competition, but if you want to stay ahead you’re going to have to find ways to get all that data into one place, make it easily accessible and use it to improve your clients’ results.

Evolve from technician to manager to business owner

If you’ve read the book E-myth by Michael Gerber, you may be familiar with the stages of a small business; more specifically, the progression of a business owner’s roles. As the fitness industry continues to grow and evolve, we will likely see it transform and adapt by the driving force of new fitness business owners. The flood of new fitness studios, boot camps, cross-training facilities and group training franchises is quickly saturating the market. Combine this with consumers who have access to more information than ever about fitness and nutrition and you have an industry that is at a tipping point.

A quality trainer transitioning to a business owner, to learning how to manage people, to becoming a high-level business owner will need to ramp-up quickly to succeed, especially those who are newer to the industry. It will continue to be tougher to build a sustainable business by just being great at delivering a good training service. Fitness professionals need to learn to market, sell, and manage business finances and operations at a high level. The high-performing business owners will be the ones who thrive in a highly competitive market while those who don’t develop these skills will struggle to survive. Now is the time to focus on your growth as a business owner, not only a trainer.

Create careers

Fitness professionals are, perhaps more than ever, looking for career opportunities, not simply a job. The primary reason many fitness professionals leave their jobs to start their own business is because of the lack of career opportunities offered, even if starting a business was not what they envisioned when they entered the industry. They feel stuck in the positions they are in and see no other choice but to start their own business.

This is great for the entrepreneurial fitness professional, however for the passionate fitness professional that would prefer to focus on their development as a coach and trainer it can be a curse.

As more fitness business owners shift their focus and create thriving fitness businesses, more career opportunities will begin to emerge. The most successful, highest-performing fitness businesses will focus on career development for their staff.

Clients will benefit by an increased level of service and professionalism by well-trained staff members. Keeping your staff and providing them a career path doing what they love will benefit your business. Longer-term team members usually produce better results and it is far less expensive to retain a great staff member than to have to replace them. It’s a win for you to start creating careers, not jobs, for your team.

Play the long game

If you want your fitness business to thrive, it is important that you stay focused on the long game. Use strategic planning to set your long-term vision, establish short- and long-term goals and create plans that will help you accomplish your vision. The fitness business owners who choose this path will be able to adapt and pivot regardless of trends, challenges, and opportunities they encounter.

Ryan Ketchum, executive director and co-owner of Fitness Revolution, helps frustrated fitness business owners create breakthroughs in their business with strategic planning and innovative marketing techniques. Whether coaching fitness professionals through business challenges or creating content to help them improve their marketing, the Fitness Revolution team is dedicated to helping fitness professionals turn their passion into profits by helping them build high-performing businesses. Check out Fitness Revolution’s free resources at www.frnation.com.