It’s safe to say the US fitness industry is in great shape. There are over 111,000 businesses helping people get fit, employing more than 800,000 people and earning a projected $36 billion in 2019. Anyone interested in joining the industry should be excited by those numbers, but they are cause for concern as well.
The fitness industry is large, lucrative, and always evolving. Nationwide chains compete against successful independent gyms. Hundreds of new fitness centers open every year, and just as many close their doors or get consolidated into bigger brands. Due to all this activity, the fitness industry is crowded and competitive, especially in metropolitan areas. And with large numbers of businesses competing for a limited number of customers, it’s easy for fitness centers to get overlooked.
Just because you’re a new business, have a small clientele, or take a novel approach doesn’t mean you can’t prosper, even in a market full of fitness centers. You don’t need a massive marketing budget to stand out either. All it takes is time, energy, and a little innovation. When you’re ready to go from unknown to in-demand, try these strategies:
Do Something Different
You don’t need to innovate the concept of fitness centers to stand out, but you do need to be unique. Find something that makes you different from all the other gyms in the area. Maybe you offer a new kind of class, work with an under-served fitness population, offer special discounts, or cater to a specific community. There are a lot of clones in the fitness industry and just as many people who are unsatisfied with what the average gym offers. Anything that sets you apart is an advantage.
Once you know what your angle is, emphasize it in your branding, marketing, and outreach. For instance, if you want to highlight that your fitness center has a culture of trust and respect, talk about how you obtained a health club surety bond to protect all your members. Taking this approach – telling people what makes you unique, then proving why it’s true – reinforces why someone would choose your business over all the others.
Form Neighborhood Partnerships
You’re probably not the only small or local business in the neighborhood. Consider teaming up with a nearby salon, restaurant, shoe store, or pharmacy in a mutually beneficial relationship. You likely share some of the same clientele, and you may have overlapping interests as well. For example, gyms and restaurants can both rally around the cause of healthy eating.
Partnerships can take many forms. Two businesses could host an event together or give discounts to each other’s customers. They could also simply agree to look out for each other’s interests, by offering referrals and positive reviews, for instance. There may even be ways to partner with other local fitness centers or sports stores if you offer complementary services.
Highlight Real Results
Most people don’t go to the gym for fun, they go to achieve a health or wellness goal – lose weight, gain strength, relieve pain, etc. People aren’t looking for vague promises about getting into the best shape of their life, they’re looking for a fitness center that can deliver real results. Proving that you can deliver real results sets you apart from most of the competition and makes your gym especially appealing to members who have been frustrated elsewhere.
Pictures highlight just how much the people you’ve worked with have transformed, so don’t be shy about asking for permission to take before/after photos. Put those photos on your website and social media profiles, along with testimonials about how you and your fitness center made the results possible. Along those lines, encourage every customer you work with to review your fitness center online. The experiences and impressions of actual members speak a lot louder than advertising.
Avoid Unnecessary Setbacks
Sometimes all you need to do to stand out is to continue what you’re already doing. All the pieces are in place for you to attract members and grow on your own terms. However, success is never guaranteed, and it’s possible to limit your own potential simply because of unnecessary setbacks. For instance, if you allowed your health club surety bond to expire, you won’t be able to renew your license or operate legally.
One of the most important parts of standing out is perfecting the basics of your business. Learn how to plan out a budget, manage your cash flow, handle your customer relationships, and coordinate your staff. Well-managed businesses are in the best position to grow. Plus, if you keep all your existing customers happy, they’re more likely to recommend you to others.
Explore Social Media
Social media is the perfect marketing channel for the fitness industry. It’s highly-visual, it creates personal connections between brands and consumers, and it attracts a lot of health-oriented individuals. Plus, social media marketing takes more time than money. The only problem is that social media is a lot like the fitness industry itself – crowded with people clamoring for attention.
If you have not been getting much traction on Facebook or Instagram, consider focusing your efforts elsewhere. Maybe your fitness center looks great on video, so upload some clips to YouTube. If you want to become the neighborhood gym, get active on local social media networks like NextDoor. Social media marketing has too much potential to ignore, but it can take some experimentation to perfect your approach.
You have a fitness center, a health club surety bond, a business plan, and a lot of determination. That means you have everything you need to stand out. As you’re exploring what to do next, make sure you’re partnered with a qualified surety company. Why is this so important? Read this article all about surety bonds to find out.