One of the biggest challenges in being a gym owner is figuring out how to get ALL the things done to keep your gym open and members happy.
The challenge doesn’t lie in whether or not you can do it all. The gym owners I know have the ability and tenacity to coach class, brainstorm WODs for next week, snap photos for the ‘gram, and console a newbie CrossFitter trying to figure out the snatch, all at the same time.
But the challenge is doing this forever. No one can maintain this optempo for long without burning out or going insane.
Embrace it. It’s time to get some help.
The gym might be your “baby,” but whether you like it or not, it takes a village to raise a child in this case. You cannot do it alone. You shall not do it alone.
“But how?” you ask, “I’m not even paying myself. How in the world am I going to hire people to work for me?!”
There are a few ways.
No one is ever going to do it as perfectly as you can, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting help. Don’t have your 10 year old son do your books (though he might be smarter than you), but when you’re staring at your never-ending list of to do’s at the gym, sometimes, as one of my gym members says, done is better than perfect.
The goal here is to get work OFF your plate, affordably!
Now before we get into it, make sure you understand what you actually need help with and that you’re not worried about the things that don’t matter.
1. Hire a virtual assistant
If you’re anything like me, you saw “virtual” and went, “That’s impossible. I run a community-based business. Everything we do is personal and requires in-person interaction.”
Aye, there’s the rub. Another mental hiccup preventing you from getting the real help you need to boost your business. If everything you do is personal and dependent on how day-to-day interactions go, there might be a better way. Approaching your gym impersonally and from a process-oriented standpoint will free your time, energy, and emotion. Having someone else handle a lot of the minutia for you will also keep you emotionally resilient, day-to-day, allowing you to focus on growing the gym.
Another benefit to having a VA is that your VA may be more efficient than you even thought was possible. What takes you 10 hours to complete may take your VA only 5. Although you’re worried about paying hourly and how those hours will stack up, you may be surprised how “little” you have to pay to get a lot done – and a lot off your plate.
Cost: Low to mid-range $5-$35/hour
2. Barter memberships
This is contentious in the CrossFit community, because we’re all about the people, what’s fair, and what’s legal. As a disclaimer, different states have different employment laws that govern what is legal here, and you should do yourself a favor and look into it (we did).
If your hired staff agrees to this arrangement, then it’s an arrangement that works for them, too. They weren’t forced into labor, so by the nature of a mutual agreement, and lack of coercion, this is not unfair.
With that out of the way, I wouldn’t suggest this setup permanently, but it is a way for you to preserve your sanity, keep the lights on, and maybe even get some sleep. This buys you time until your gym grows more robust. We all gotta start somewhere.
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3. Hire an online freelancer
The few times I needed quick graphic design services, I went on Fiverr. In all honesty, I paid $5 for the projects and got exactly what I paid for, but the process worked: request what you’d like done, how you need it done, then pay for a finished product. Although it always depends on what you’re willing to pay, there are affordable rates you can pay while reasonably expecting a quality product. $5 for a website is not the move.
The best type of work to outsource online is anything you can do online, to include admin and time-intensive tasks like writing or graphic design. You can also find more advanced services available like digital marketing and web design.
Cost: As low as $5 and as high as it gets
Last year we painted our 4000 sq ft gym with over 30 volunteers. We called it a “Paint Party,” and made it so with generous servings of pizza and beer.
Have a huge project that needs to get done around the gym, but you can’t afford it?
See if you can make a “party” out of it. CrossFitters already have an odd idea of what’s fun anyway, your members probably won’t even notice.
And hey, recovery is just as important as the WOD itself, and I’m pretty sure pizza and beer passes as a Zone-friendly post-workout meal.
Cost: Materials and $50 in pizza and beer
5. Ask family for help
Hey. These are just suggestions.
For some of you (okay, maybe one), this might be a viable solution for some of the tasks you need to get done.
Trust being a given, here is what else I would suggest: keep it to projects your family members are good with, not offering an open-ended, full-time employment.
I had my dad give me a quick primer on bookkeeping and my mom cooked a huge spread for one of our competitions, so we didn’t have to pay out of pocket to feed our judges.
Cost: Years of indebtedness