David Minton is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on fitness trends within the UK, and for good reason. Having founded the Leisure Database Company 30 years ago, David has collected more insight into consumer and operator trends than anyone else. His team works with the majority of the top 50 UK health and fitness brands as well as being the official data provider to large public bodies such as Sport England.
Having consulted hundreds of new gyms and leisure centres, we spoke with David to find out what he felt were the keys to successfully launching a new site.
From your experience, what have you learnt to be the most critical steps to successfully launching a new gym?
Step 1 – Robust analysis of customer base
The number one piece of advice I would offer any operator would be to understand your customer base. Generally operators know whether or not a gym will be good from a functional perspective, but too many fail to do their homework when it comes to understanding the local geodemographics. You absolutely must know:
- The number of people within a set radius that fall into your target audience
- The proportion of these are currently being serviced by the competition and at what price point
From the answers to these two questions you can then decide if the local demand will be sufficient, if their price expectations are compatible with your business model, and the kind of messaging this audience will need to receive.
Step 2 – Collect and nurture data
Data collection is an ongoing process of constantly capturing new member information and keeping it up to date. Most clubs are terrible at this. Even if they manage to capture all your info when you first join, they then fail to maintain it as over time you change your email, telephone number, etc… This data is one of their most valuable assets and gyms need to work far harder to keep it comprehensive and accurate.
Step 3 – Communicate
Once you’ve successfully completed steps 1 and 2, you will have:
- The knowledge of who your audience is and what information they want to receive
- The contact data via which to communicate it
So the final step is to ensure they are receiving that communication consistently and in line with your brand. Whether it’s via email, social media or an app, it’s absolutely critical that you are in constant contact with your membership.
The low cost niche is without doubt the most adept at using technology to communicate to its audience.
Those operators that can successfully incorporate each of these three steps into their business model will not only be able to hit the ground running with each new site launch, but also develop resilient brands that can maintain their position as the market inevitably becomes more competitive, changing and innovating.