by Jeff Russo
In my first two articles this year, I touched on the differences between fitness club operators in the States and Canada, as well as the importance of designing pay structures that support your business model. In both documents I referred to predictable business operating systems and I would like to expand on that here. I believe your success as an entrepreneur and club operator is directly related to how well you understand and implement this concept.
The first thing to take note of, is that “the technical work of a business and a business that does that technical work are two different things” (The E-Myth, Michael Gerber). So the business exists above and beyond the equipment in the club, the classes that you conduct and the personal training and membership services that you offer. While these are all technical components of the business, and many owners spend a majority of their time caught up in working on these issues, the first priority must be to step back and indentify what the true need of the business is, first and foremost, and spend the majority of time working on it.
Therefore, the true product of a business is not what is sells but instead how it sells it. When owners open their facilities, they always focus on what they are going to build, what the facilities require and what they are going to sell. Instead, they need to focus more on the system that they are going to use, the way in which they are going to operate predictably, as to attract the right clients who enjoy the experience and the consistency that comes with the true product. For instance, for Ray Kroc, the product was never the Hamburger itself, but the franchise system, McDonalds. As a result, it is seldom the commodity that requires innovation but the process by which it is sold. Yet, we keep seeing club owners adding more and more features and classes and not managing the very process itself and wondering why productivity is not improving.
My suggestion is to create a member survey and find out what your clients think about your business experience. Then match that up against what your front desk staff and membership department are promising in terms of service and results and see how far apart you are. Chances are, you are not delivering 100% of the promises being made, so why go forward and add more technical solutions and options before you’re taken care of the true issues with the core of your business. I bet the simple answer is that it is more difficult to face and address the issues that come with staff who fall short of delivering the predictable business experience. As a result, shouldn’t you be simplifying your services and delivering 100% on fewer promises?
Jeff Russo has been involved in the fitness industry from 1986 and has worked with over 60 independent health clubs in Canada and the United States in terms of improving customer service and profitability. His Pro Fitness Program has revolutionized the way fitness clubs operate with an emphasis on selling education results and knowledge as opposed to facility and price. Jeff has been a regular speaker for IHRSA and Can Fit Pro. His business consulting systems have created more full time fitness careers for independent club owners than anyone in history. If you would like more information please inquire at www.profitnessprogram.com
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