How to Scale a Gym to Multiple Locations

Vicki Morillo
12 min read
Some additional information in one line

Taking your gym from one successful location to several is a thrilling step. It shows just how much your members love what you're doing and proves you have a winning fitness approach. 

If you're a gym owner or fitness pro thinking about this big move, you'll face the exciting challenge of tweaking your winning formula to fit new neighborhoods or even whole new cities.

Sure, overseeing multiple gyms adds layers of complexity, but it also opens up fantastic opportunities for more revenue and getting your gym's name out there in a big way. 

Growing your gym isn't just about adding more locations; it's about planting seeds for your brand's legacy in the health and wellness community.

By leaning on tried-and-true business strategies, you can grow your gym while keeping the top-notch service and strong brand identity your clients have come to expect.

Getting a firm handle on key aspects like picking the right spots, training your team well, nailing your marketing, and using the right tech will make all the difference.

Paying close attention to these details sets you up for a robust business that will thrive and expand with each new gym you open.

What do the experts say about scaling fitness businesses?
Gym-Scaling

According to Justin Devonshire, a growth expert for Fitness Businesses, scaling your gym, especially once you're hitting over £15-20k (~ 19,650 to 26,200 USD) per month, isn't just about Facebook ads. They're a tool, not a strategy. 

As costs rise, dependency on these ads isn't just unsustainable, it's risky. Imagine an ad ban throwing your finances off-kilter across multiple locations. The fitness industry isn't immune to economic shifts, so we must be prepared for changes in the landscape. 

True scaling is built on a solid operational foundation, not fleeting front-end tactics. Ensure financial security with three months of operating capital, plus setup costs, to steer clear of debt. Remember a gym that scales successfully does so on the shoulders of a well-trained, culture-driven team. The first location must run like a well-oiled machine, even in your absence. 

Consistency in coaching and management is key, which is why any head coach or manager for new locations should be steeped in your business's core values for at least six months. 

And don't forget, before you open the doors to that new gym, cultivate an audience in the area to hit the ground running with leads and clients from day one.

Preparing for Expansion

Before you jump into expansion, take a good look at what's working well in your current gym. How's your team doing? Are your fitness programs hitting the mark? Are your clients sticking around? Understanding these will guide you on where to polish your game. 

Putting together a detailed game plan is key. It should map out your goals, where you want to open next, how long it'll take, and how it'll affect your wallet. It’s about attracting new faces and keeping them excited to return. 

Establishing a robust infrastructure to support new locations is also critical, encompassing the recruitment of adept managers and ensuring they receive ample training and resources. 

Expect a few hurdles along the way—like tougher competition, leading a bigger crew, and dealing with local rules. Staying one step ahead can make all the difference in how smoothly you scale up.

Validating Your Business Model

Initiating a smaller-scale operation in a new locale can provide practical experience and inform necessary modifications to your business model before proceeding with a full-scale launch. 

Monitoring crucial business metrics is vital for assessing the model's success in different environments. Soliciting and acting upon input from staff and clients will help refine your approach. Consistently reviewing and adjusting the business model ensures its ongoing effectiveness and responsiveness to market demands.

The choice between a franchising approach or direct ownership should align with the company's overarching goals and desired level of oversight. It's essential to define financial metrics that indicate readiness for expansion. 

Streamlining operations and utilizing scalable technology for efficient management are critical components of a robust expansion strategy.

Assessing Market Viability

Analyzing the gym's strengths, weaknesses, potential opportunities, and possible threats is essential for understanding the feasibility of expansion. 

Conducting thorough market research, including studying competitors and scouting suitable locations, provides invaluable insights. Building relationships with local entities and seeking advice from real estate professionals can offer depth to market comprehension. 

Try dipping your toes in first with pop-up events in the areas you're eyeing. How the locals react can give you a sneak peek into whether your gym will be the next hotspot there.

Establishing a Unique Selling Proposition

Articulating what sets the gym apart — whether through specialized programs, cutting-edge equipment, skilled staff, or an engaging gym atmosphere — is imperative, and this distinction should be consistently communicated across all marketing channels and by the entire team. 

Keeping your brand's look and feel consistent everywhere helps turn first-timers into lifelong fans. Incorporating contemporary and innovative features that reflect the latest fitness trends could reinforce the gym's distinctive appeal. 

Keeping the USP fresh and relevant requires regular assessment and evolution, with member feedback as a pivotal guide for strategic enhancements.

Systemizing Operations

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Scaling a gym operation demands a model that can be consistently applied across various locations, detailing member and staff management, equipment maintenance, and operational tasks. 

Ensuring uniformity involves deploying templates for common functions, such as intake forms and maintenance logs, and harnessing existing resources to optimize efficiency. 

A central management system proves indispensable in monitoring and managing these facets across the board.

Develop a Comprehensive Operations Manual

Crafting an operations manual with detailed instructions for every role is crucial—consider it a blueprint for exacting performance, a guide for the unexpected.

Such documentation, with visual aids and checklists, supports staff in mastering their responsibilities and ensures processes are executed flawlessly. Regular revisions keep this manual relevant and effective.

Implement Robust Training Systems

Robust training systems that prioritize staff preparedness shape a team capable of delivering service consistently across all fronts. Training infused with technology fosters an engaging learning environment while continuous education and support sustain staff competence. 

Evaluation loops keep the training impactful, refining the process to meet the evolving demands of the fitness industry.

"You hire people who have the skill and the personality you want, teach them your systems, and step away" - Bedros Keuilian, Founder, Fit Body Boot Camp.

Standardize Client Experience

Mirroring the quality and culture of the flagship gym at every location fortifies the brand's reputation. Uniform branding, service offerings, and staff interactions are paramount, cultivating a client experience that resonates with the gym's ethos. 

A systematic approach to gathering client feedback aids ongoing enhancements.

Leveraging Technology

According to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, technology such as business automation, lead management, and CRM can streamline processes and provide reporting and KPIs to identify effective marketing programs.

Utilize Scalable Software Platforms

Investing in scalable software is essential for managing sprawling operations across multiple gym locations. 

These platforms must offer robustness for internal communication and external member engagement, handling many tasks such as billing, appointment setting, and performance tracking with ease. They serve as the operational nerve center, ensuring all locations are in sync.

Automate Workflow

Workflow automation brings precision and consistency to daily tasks. By minimizing human involvement in routine processes, gyms can redirect focus towards enhancing member interactions and fine-tuning the customer experience. 

Automation tools are not just labor-saving devices; they're the silent engines that drive operational excellence.

Centralize Data Management

The power of centralized data cannot be overstated. CRM systems stand at the forefront of this revolution, offering a panoramic view of client interactions, preferences, and history. 

This central repository of information ensures tailored services and fosters an intimate gym community personalized to the core.

Building Infrastructure

The architecture of a gym's infrastructure is a testament to its preparedness for the future. As the fitness landscape evolves, the need for adaptable, robust, and scalable infrastructures becomes more pronounced. 

From hiring to high-tech equipment, every decision lays the foundation for sustained growth and member satisfaction.

Plan for New Hires and Locations

Formulating a strategic blueprint for staffing and infrastructure is pivotal as the gym's geographic footprint grows. 

A gym must be a well-oiled machine, whether it's the introduction of innovative home workout options or the onboarding of adept staff. Each new location and hire is a stitch in the expanding tapestry of the gym's network.

"Getting the location right for your second gym is a big consideration. If it's too close, then you risk cannibalizing your existing membership; too far away and you risk spending far too much in travel time between your two locations"​ - RDX Sports

Financial Management

Navigating the financial waters of a multi-location gym enterprise demands acute awareness of each location's fiscal environment. Every new gym unfurls its banner with its own spectrum of financial needs—rent, utilities, and the equipment essential for operation. 

It's essential to have a financial plan that's not static but that evolves with the organization, incorporating tools and software that provide insight into the enterprise's financial pulse.

A comprehensive financial framework, replete with sophisticated software, forms the bedrock of strategic decisions, ensuring economic activities are tracked and analyzed. 

"The fastest way to actually make a million in the gym business is to just scale what we have, to duplicate the systems and the processes and the staff and the pricing and the marketing into a second location or a third location." - Chris Cooper, Business Mentor, Two-Brain Business.

Financial plans must be rich with detail, projecting incomes and expenses and encapsulating budgeting strategies that stay responsive to market fluctuations. 

Seeking expert financial guidance isn't optional—it's a pillar of sustaining growth and stability. Incorporating a risk management strategy is paramount, creating buffers against potential economic upheaval.

Conduct Thorough Financial Planning

Developing a meticulous financial plan is fundamental, charting forecasts for revenues and expenses while crafting approaches to cost containment. 

Financial modeling tools forecast economic conditions, informing the adjustments required in the financial planning process. The financial plan remains under constant review, adapting to shifts in the business landscape. 

A comprehensive risk management framework completes the strategy, mitigating potential financial adversities.

Streamline Tools and Applications

The agility of a gym's operations hinges on the streamlined integration of tools and applications. Choosing the right gym management software solidifies operational effectiveness, tracking membership engagement and staff administration with precision. 

Unified communication platforms ensure seamless information flows across all departments and locations. Equipping staff with the necessary training to leverage these digital tools ensures the gym operates at peak efficiency.

Optimize Equipment Costs

Monitoring equipment expenditures is critical for financial health. Regular equipment audits can reveal opportunities to replace or remove items to optimize costs. Scheduled maintenance extends equipment life and prevents costly downtime. 

Leasing options offer flexibility for uncertain long-term equipment needs. A thorough life cycle cost analysis ensures a complete understanding of the total cost of equipment ownership, from acquisition through disposal.

Fostering Leadership and Culture

Leadership and culture are the cornerstones of a thriving gym enterprise. Developing this involves more than cursory efforts; it demands a sustained strategy that permeates every facet of the organization. 

A leadership development program lays the groundwork for cultivating critical skills, and a succession plan ensures leadership continuity. 

Culture is not static—it thrives on perpetual improvement and a dedication to lifelong learning among staff, reinforcing the company's values.

Cultivate Strong Leadership

Leadership within the network is the force that propels the business forward, with leaders embodying the founder's vision across expanding horizons. 

A comprehensive development program is essential for nurturing these qualities in emerging leaders, ensuring they are ready to take the helm when called upon. 

These leaders bear the torch of the company's mission, guiding each new branch towards a shared goal.

"Cultivate strong leadership. Develop leaders who can carry the founder's vision and drive the business forward." - Jim Thomas, Founder and President, Fitness Management USA, Inc.

Maintain Company Culture

The essence of the company's identity—its culture—must echo consistently across all locations. This is achieved through consistent evaluations and fostering an environment prioritizing growth and learning. 

The ongoing staff development and reinforcement of the company's core values ensure the culture remains vibrant and cohesive.

Communicate the Vision

The company's vision serves as the north star for staff and members alike. Articulating this vision clearly and frequently keeps the organization aligned and motivated. 

Using the art of storytelling, the vision becomes more than a statement—it transforms into an engaging narrative that invites participation. Involving everyone in sharing the vision ensures it is lived authentically, nurturing a sense of community and belonging as the business grows.

Pragmatic Tips for Fitness Business Owners to Grow Your Gym to Multiple Locations

gym-systemmize

As a fitness business owner aiming to expand your gym to multiple locations, it's crucial to embrace strategies that strengthen the core of your enterprise while allowing flexibility for the unique challenges of each new site.

When scaling up, preparing for unforeseen events, cultivating a strong community, and constantly evaluating and refining operational performance are vital steps. 

These ensure that as you grow, each location embodies the essence of your brand and is equipped to thrive amidst the dynamic demands of the fitness industry.

Prepare for Contingencies

To prepare for unexpected challenges when expanding, establish comprehensive contingency plans that cover equipment failure and staffing issues. 

Reliable equipment and adequate staffing are foundational to your plans, ensuring unforeseen circumstances don't derail your operations. Insurance provides a safety net for financial risks that unplanned events can bring.

Focus on Community Building

Building a robust community enhances member loyalty and retention at new gym locations. Facilitating social connections through events and tailored services can create a sense of belonging among members. 

Offering diverse membership options and valuing member feedback are practical steps toward nurturing a welcoming and responsive gym environment.

Monitor and Adapt

Monitoring and adapting to the performance of each new gym location is crucial, and this involves regularly assessing operational and financial metrics and embracing data analytics for deeper insights. 

Keeping abreast of fitness industry trends can inform service innovations while investing in the right technology improves operational efficiency and the overall member experience.

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