Whether you’re operating a club or a small personal training studio purchasing the right fitness equipment is a crucial task. In the case of clubs, the equipment is actually a key point of contact with members and what they use to (hopefully) achieve their fitness goals. The equipment is also the toolkit (at least part of it) that a trainer uses to execute their programs. Given this importance I have been somewhat dismayed to see a tendency over the last few years to treat equipment purchases as a simple commodity purchase.
Fitness equipment is a big-ticket item and so it naturally has a huge impact on budget. This leads many buyers to enter the purchasing process with a bias, rather than the objective point-of-view that is needed to properly evaluate their needs and the solutions available. They tend to believe any argument that supports spending less rather than more, and while spending less is not always the wrong choice it’s also not always the right choice.
One of the key errors in judgement is confusing your budget with the value of the product; just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the price. This may be a hard concept to accept when you are evaluating a product, but it’s important to remove ego from the equation and try to evaluate products on their merits alone.
The advice I give my clients when faced with such a situation is to remove the purchasing decision from the equation; to pretend they are not actually in the market for buying ( ex – they are doing research for an industry publication). Your job as a buyer is to evaluate the options first, then look at what you can afford. While you might have a budget, it is actually not relevant to the solution.
Too many clients tell themselves things like “my clients won’t know the difference” or “I don’t need those features” without really evaluating things, they do so because they don’t want to spend more money. Well nobody wants to spend more than they have to, and everybody wants a deal, but this is too often the only focus of the buyer.
Once you have the right mindset you can proceed to evaluate the options available and determine which ones will help you attract and keep clients (which is your ultimate goal). In some cases, the features of the equipment won’t play much of a role in this, but again it’s important not to dismiss the impact too easily. Sometimes “a treadmills is a treadmill is a treadmill” and sometimes it’s not.
Some key considerations:
• What are the features and how do they make the user’s life better (i.e. – easier, give them a better workout, etc…)?
• Durability: Are there tangible ways in which one machine is built better than others? I mean beyond the claim the manufacturer makes that “ours is built better”
• Sturdiness: Not the same as durability. This refers to the feeling of the equipment and how it supports the user. Think of the stuff that goes into most hotel gyms as an example of equipment that is not sturdy.
• (In the case of a studio) Can I get my clients on and off more quickly?
• Don’t just look at the cost today, look at the cost of ownership. Is spending more offset by less repairs over time? Is it offset by the fact that you will keep the equipment longer?
• Amortization: It may be $2,000.00 more today, but amortized over the life of the product it’s less. You have to think of it that way too; $2,000.00 is $200.00 a year if you own the equipment for 10 years. Make sure to look at things from that perspective too.
As gyms and studios continue to compete more vigorously in this maturing market they will need to look at every opportunity to stand out. Choosing the right equipment, and the right mix of equipment, is crucial, and treating it like a commodity is a lost opportunity.