Understanding the business of fitness is becoming more and more important for success in the industry, requiring an education that extends in an area far different than exercise physiology, programming or kinesiology. Fitness businesses have the most success when the coach/owner does what he or she is best at. It can be advantageous to hire a fitness business coach to support your education on how to run a thriving business. Here is what you need to look at to give yourself the best opportunity to select a business coach that fits you:

Know exactly what you need. Many owners focus on the trends in the market but don’t really know why. They don’t know their business well enough to understand why that trend may or may not help them. You and only you need to take an honest look at your business and seek out somebody who can really help you on the most important pieces of your business for long-term success.

Do not get “sold.” An ad is designed to capture your attention and build your interest. Do not be short-sighted and get lured in by the ad. If an ad catches your eye, do your due diligence by following the steps below rather than buy right away.

Make them earn your business. You need to ask them digging questions to determine if they are a fit for you. How exactly have they helped others? What exact results have their clients experienced and how did they specifically achieve those results? Ask for examples and pry. If they cannot answer your questions, reconsider.

Ask your contacts. Most quality business coaches build a real reputation over time. Research them online and ask your friends and contacts. You need to learn if this person has succeeded for their clients in the past. If you can’t find any information or if their reputation is weak you should proceed with extreme caution.

Understand the contract before you sign. Are you prepared to sign a multi-year contract with a business coach prior to meeting them? The argument here is that if you have done your due diligence, if their reputation is great, if you have other people who have had great results, you have a much stronger case to sign a longer-term contract. If you don’t have confirmations of their quality, be very careful on a long-term contract. Know if you can get out of that contract should expectations not be met.

Do they understand exactly who you are and what you do? Too many business coaches don’t understand specific fitness businesses or missions. You need to get them to show you with examples how they can serve your business in a way that is truly authentic to your values and mission.

Know that, in most cases, the business coach isn’t executing for you. Most business coaches provide feedback, look at numbers to make strategy recommendations and help walk you through planning. That can be highly valuable but don’t expect them to write marketing content or take pictures for you in the gym.

Can and should you afford it. Perhaps you don’t know your numbers well enough to even know this but you need to look at three things:

o What can this person or business provide/produce with you – It is a profit game so how much additional profit can they help you achieve?

o How likely is it that they achieve results – Everything is a probability so if they say that they will make you $20,000 in profit, realize that there is a percentage probability of that happening so it may or may not be $20,000. Your decision needs to take a real look at how likely those results will be.

o Is it worth paying and do you have enough cash to safely hire them – If you have somebody who costs $1,000/month and you have $2,000 in the bank, I would argue that you are in a very dangerous position and likely should not move forward. But, is it worth it? In reality, you need to make a return on the dollars you spend so if it costs $1,000/month, you need to put an expected return figure on it and if the return justifies the expense and you aren’t putting yourself in deep jeopardy to do so, it may be worth it.

Once you hire, track results. Assuming you are following strategies from the coach, how well is it going? You need to look at tangible metrics to see how well you are doing and how effectively your coach is performing. If they can’t produce the right stuff and you have given it ample time, look elsewhere.

After you hire a coach, it isn’t up to the coach to execute. It is up to you! You want to ensure that your coach can provide you with the support that you need to help you build strong processes and procedures, smart marketing and advertising, and rock solid financials. But, you will be doing the work and you need to expect that. It can be easy to blame a business coach, but you need to take accountability for your own business. If you make the decision to go for it, trust it (with proper tracking!) and work your tail off to go out there and win!

Jim Crowell is the Director of Operations and Creator of the OPEX Gym License with James Fitzgerald. He owned two highly successful fitness facilities before selling them and beginning work with OPEX. Prior to working within fitness, Jim was a successful commodities trader for an Austin-based hedge fund. When he isn’t working to build OPEX, Jim is earning his MBA through the University of North Carolina.