You did the heavy-lifting planning for success and outlining a vision before you opened your doors. You’re operating your kids’ gym according to plan, which is an exciting whirlwind of activity. It’s when you’re so deep in day-to-day operations, that it becomes easy to start losing contact with your long-term vision for your gym.
You’re the gym owner. No one else is going to keep you on track towards your vision other than you. In fact, it’s part of your job as the gym owner to keep your vision front and center for your team. You’ve achieved great success when operations are humming, but that’s no time to go wobbly.
Protecting the financial viability and uncovering immediate growth opportunities for your gym
It takes money to stick to your vision. As such, the baseline requirement for maintaining your vision is pro-active financial management. The first step of pro-active financial management is using the financial analysis and reporting tools available to you. This reporting makes it easy to identify and managed aged accounts to protect your gym’s cash flow.
It compares metrics and trends across similar time frame and operational areas. For example, you can see where class enrollments may be trending up or down and uncover why. Is it a type of class that’s driving enrollment trends or are all class types or teachers generally trending in the same way? This gives insight into whether you have structural or cultural problems gym-wide or if you have specific areas of opportunity. You should also be able to compare cost trends to identify where costs may be increasing at an unacceptable rate.
This first level of financial management is using your gym management software and reporting system to have immediate, in-depth visibility into the state of your gym’s financial health. You need this level of first-line financial reporting so that you can make quick, smart decisions in response to changing conditions.
Expanding your vision to raise your expectations
Once you have a handle on your internal financial benchmarks, it’s time to expand your vision to the industry as a whole and identify your place within it. This level of assessment happens in as a combined financial and marketing evaluation of your industry and opportunities.
Start researching industry analysis of gym studio benchmarks on issues such as industry expenses, class sizes, class ratios, and rates. Understanding where the industry stands, and trending your data helps you to recognize where you’re falling short and how to lean into new opportunities.
It can help you identify if your expense ratio is too high and how to bring that down. You may learn that your pricing strategy has resulted in undervaluing your tuition fees. When you continue to examine your local market, you may discover a class type or demographic opening up to you.
Staying on top of financial and marketing trends isn’t about taking you away from your initial vision. It’s about having a clear-eyed view of the realities of the industry and your market and staying flexible enough to make them work for your vision. You already know how important it is to remain flexible — the key is balancing flexibility with staying on track.
Moving through the progressions that instigate and support quantum leaps in growth
Businesses all go through a similar progression of growth phases. (Well, they hope to go through them as the alternative is disheartening.) When you opened your gym, you were in a survival mode. You needed enough enrollment to give you enough cash flow to keep the doors open.
At some point, you realized you needed to step up your management capabilities. If that’s where you are now, you most likely want your gym to accommodate a growing number of students — without degrading the quality of your services or operations. That’s the time to start automating and “professionalizing” your operations and management. This includes using more sophisticated technology that let you scale managing your gym. With a more stable financial position, you may also decide to look at an improved repositioning and marketing initiative.
Once you maximize your operational scale at your current location, you might start thinking about where your expansion opportunities are. Do you want to open new locations? Do you want to be less involved day-to-day? Do you want to find revenue opportunities that aren’t tied directly to class enrollment, say for instance, a line of gymnastics clothing, or providing gymnastics teacher training?
Convene your board of advisors and consult with outside experts to identify expansion opportunities that align with your branding and core competencies. The fun part of this phase is pinpointing what the next phase of your vision is and planning out how you’ll get there.
There’s always a new routine to master
Just as your gymnasts’ vision shifts as they master new skills and moves, you can take the same approach to making your gym’s vision a reality. So you can begin enjoying the life you imagined for yourself when you opened it. Sticking closely to your initial idea for your gym got you through the survival phase and supported your ability to take risks during the growth phase.
Think of your vision as a painting. First it’s a blank canvas, until you start drawing an outline of different sections of it. You begin coloring those sections in as they become real until eventually you make the canvas even bigger, as you continue to draw on it and color it in.
That painting becomes the story of your gym, your vision unfolding over time. Let it inspire you. Share it with your board, your family, your team, even your parents and your students so they become equally excited. The cool thing is — when you all dream the same dream — obstacles fall away and dream becomes reality.