Do you remember the last time you went to a McDonalds?
Don’t worry, I won’t tell your members your iPhone’s geolocator has you reading this post from McDonald’s right now.
But let me ask you some questions.
When you ordered a burger with the cashier, did your sentiments about the taste of the burger depend on whether or not s/he smiled to you today?
Did your burger taste funny when you noticed a gaggle of girls pointing at you and laughing hysterically in the corner?
Did you expect the manager of the store to respond to your text message last night about your decision to stop eating meat?
Running a micro gym is wildly different from running a typical franchise or larger business. The main difference is that not only are you managing employees and systems, but you’re also running a community.
Here are some ways the community affects business operations:
1. The community can make or break the business.
If your community grows to be drama-infested and cliquey, you can inadvertently create a hostile environment in which no one but that gaggle of school girls wants to be apart. This is a surefire way to repel 95% of new customers (accurate statistic).
2. The community can attract a certain demographic to one micro gym over another.
Besides some variations in management or burger styles if you’re overseas (shout out to my Bulgogi burger lovers), if you’ve been to one McDonalds, you’ve been to them all.
The same can’t be said with micro gyms, even within the same industry. From your highly competitive gyms to your more mature, 45+ year old crowds that value longevity, your community will attract some people and repel others.
3. But customers tend to be a little more forgiving.
When I need to get away from work, I like to work out at a nearby globo gym, because sometimes even the restaurant owner gets sick of eating in his own restaurant.
Whenever I work out there, I am always taken aback by how clean and “corporate” it looks, with their stainless steel signs, climate control, and lack of people sweating. It always looks like a magazine cover in there, and you know what? If it didn’t, I probably wouldn’t want to work out there.
You don’t go to a globo gym for the personality or the kitschy, cutesy things. You go there for the functionality and accessibility of it. Period.
On the other hand, some would argue that the personality of a micro gym is what drives people to it. The grittiness of a garage gym is part of the allure, much like the overpowering scent of sandalwood in every yoga studio.
Why is this even important?
Because you need to understand that you can’t approach running a micro gym like you would an ordinary froyo franchise. You can make sure your employees are well taken care of and that you have systems to streamline your processes, but if someone isn’t cultivating relationships with people in your community, your business will feel hollow not successful.
You’re a small business. Own it. Sure aesthetics are nice. Cleanliness is obviously important. But don’t get carried away doing things for your business that have no soul.
Spend your time developing your gym’s personality, honing its culture, and nurturing your community. Make jokes, plan a group hike, and reinforce your gym’s house rules. These efforts will allow you to attract the type of people you want to attract.
Your gym’s culture has the capacity to make your business more successful in two ways.
- People who don’t dig your culture or community will leave early on.
- People who love your culture and community will buy in earlier on.
If you’ve ever read The Pumpkin Plan, this is pretty much #goals for micro gym owners.
You want a culture and community that reflect your values. This will ensure you are excited enough to come back to work every day and won’t spend the next six months in hibernation, hoping to not run into so-and-so.
What about you? Where do you fall on the soul/no soul spectrum when running your business? Where do you think you excel or could improve, and why?
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