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Running a CrossFit Facility Tips and guidance on how to open and operate a CrossFit gym.

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Old 04-22-2013, 04:00 PM   #1
Matthew Whittemore
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5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Hi guys,

I'm in the process of setting up a new box,(affiliation application pending) and thanks to 16 years in the Army I have a near obsession with being as properly organised and prepared for tasks as possible prior to starting them.

What I would like some input from the forum on is if you were to start from scratch again, knowing what you know now about how your setup went, what would be your top 5 Do's and Dont's on setting up (Obviously covering everything from painting, flooring, fitout, apparel, legal....whatever you found to be stand outs).

Cheers!
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:36 AM   #2
James Gordon
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Hi Matthew,

I've opened 3 affiliates, and probably made every mistake there is Here's my list:

DO:
1- Keep your overhead as low as possible. Operate in as small of a space as you can get away with (you would be surprised at what you can do with a small space if it's planned properly). Only move to a larger space when you absolutely have to. If you are in a nice climate, find a space that will allow for outdoor WODs.
2- Celebrate your member's success EVERY DAY. PR boards are better than Leaderboards. Praise members on FB and your web site at every opportunity.
3- Use a management system (like Zen Planner) from day one, and set up all memberships with monthly auto debit.
4- LOVE your members, your business is nothing without them. People quit gyms, but they never quit a good relationship.
5- Be the best Coach you can be, and constantly look for ways to improve. Find a mentor. Take advantage of the free resources on sites like The Biz, 321Go Project and Again Faster.

Don't:
1- Don't get in a race to the bottom with other boxes. Charge top $$ and avoid pre-paid or pay-as-you-go membership options. They will KILL your cash flow.
2- Avoid borrowing money to start your box if at all possible.
3- You don't need every piece of gear out there. Start with the basics, and be creative with your programming. Add gear when your membership can pay for it.
4- Don't spread yourself too thin. If you offer every class time under the sun, you'll quickly burn out. Set a reasonable schedule, but keep time for yourself. Farm out jobs that you aren't good at or cause you stress (accounting, cleaning etc). However, do as much of the training as possible until you can comfortably afford help, and make sure that adding extra trainers results in a corresponding increase in revenue.
5- Don't forget to have fun. Frequent special events, free seminars, competitions etc are key. Don't take the whole thing too seriously.

My third box (sold the other two in Canada and moved to Europe) is very different from my first two. We're in just over 1500sf TOTAL space, and run classes of up to 10ppl. My overhead (all in) is under $2000 monthly, and my average client value is around $150/ month. I've set a limit on memberships at 100 (paying monthly). I can manage 100 clients myself, and I'll develop two additional "apprentice" trainers to cover while I'm on holiday or sick. This will give me a take-home salary of $10000 monthly (before taxes) with approx $3000 monthly as savings. With automated systems and farming out some admin tasks, my work week is about 15hrs of coaching and 6-8hrs of admin (programming, web site/ FB etc). I stay at home with my kids during the day (saving a ****-load in daycare fees!) and run evening classes only.

Best of luck with your new venture. Feel free to PM me any time if you have questions etc.

James Gordon
CrossFit Schaffhausen
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info@crossfitschaffhausen.ch
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:53 AM   #3
Dario Delkic
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Thanks for your post James, this is great.
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:36 PM   #4
Luke Conner
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Gordon View Post
Hi Matthew,


My third box (sold the other two in Canada and moved to Europe) is very different from my first two. We're in just over 1500sf TOTAL space, and run classes of up to 10ppl. My overhead (all in) is under $2000 monthly, and my average client value is around $150/ month. I've set a limit on memberships at 100 (paying monthly). I can manage 100 clients myself, and I'll develop two additional "apprentice" trainers to cover while I'm on holiday or sick. This will give me a take-home salary of $10000 monthly (before taxes) with approx $3000 monthly as savings. With automated systems and farming out some admin tasks, my work week is about 15hrs of coaching and 6-8hrs of admin (programming, web site/ FB etc). I stay at home with my kids during the day (saving a ****-load in daycare fees!) and run evening classes only.
I think the majority of what you said is excellent advice. I don't get your numbers here though. If you cap your classes at 10 and have 100 clients you would have to run 10 classes a day or assume that on any day 50% of your people won't show up. You also said 15 hours per week of coaching, but that would mean you're only running three to four classes a day, which would mean only 30 - 40% show up a day.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:28 AM   #5
James Gordon
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Hi Luke,

I currently offer 2x/ week, 3x/ week and unlimited memberships. The vast majority (85%) of my members are 2x/ week. If you factor in people who are on hold (illness, travel etc), I can easily accommodate 100 athletes per week.

Of course, this is my current "model" (open 4 months). If things change and more people opt for more classes per week, I would have to add class times and/or increase the class limit.

Best,

James
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info@crossfitschaffhausen.ch
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:40 AM   #6
Matthew Whittemore
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Thanks for your input James, some really good advice there. I've emailed you at your info address.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:37 AM   #7
Luke Conner
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

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Originally Posted by James Gordon View Post
Hi Luke,

I currently offer 2x/ week, 3x/ week and unlimited memberships. The vast majority (85%) of my members are 2x/ week. If you factor in people who are on hold (illness, travel etc), I can easily accommodate 100 athletes per week.

Of course, this is my current "model" (open 4 months). If things change and more people opt for more classes per week, I would have to add class times and/or increase the class limit.

Best,

James
Ok, that makes a lot more sense. That's a great place to be at, very impressive.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
Chris Chalmers
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

I agree with James, We have been working with a fair few boxes in Australia and UK fixing existing issues and setting up from start. The biggest thing we come across is Coaches who love CF open up their own affiliate and think they can run a business. Its 2 separate things. The love of coaching soon wanes when bills need to be paid and the time is stretched. Our advice is to get bullet proof simple easy to follow admin systems so it allows you to spend all your time coaching and building a community. Do one thing and do it well.
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Old 04-26-2013, 11:31 AM   #9
Eric G Taylor
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

im very glad i came across this post. im also in the process of opening an affiliate and become more and more nervous about what it will take to open my doors and offer the best classes i can. i currently am attempting to run classes out of my garage right now but have no idea how to market myself. i make posts on craigslist and have had a few hits but no one has showed up yet. i dont know i hope it all pans out because I would like this to be my job when i get out the army next year.
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:40 PM   #10
Ryan Cole
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Re: 5 Dos and Donts when setting up your affiliate - Your thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Gordon View Post
Hi Matthew,

I've opened 3 affiliates, and probably made every mistake there is Here's my list:

DO:
1- Keep your overhead as low as possible. Operate in as small of a space as you can get away with (you would be surprised at what you can do with a small space if it's planned properly). Only move to a larger space when you absolutely have to. If you are in a nice climate, find a space that will allow for outdoor WODs.
2- Celebrate your member's success EVERY DAY. PR boards are better than Leaderboards. Praise members on FB and your web site at every opportunity.
3- Use a management system (like Zen Planner) from day one, and set up all memberships with monthly auto debit.
4- LOVE your members, your business is nothing without them. People quit gyms, but they never quit a good relationship.
5- Be the best Coach you can be, and constantly look for ways to improve. Find a mentor. Take advantage of the free resources on sites like The Biz, 321Go Project and Again Faster.

Don't:
1- Don't get in a race to the bottom with other boxes. Charge top $$ and avoid pre-paid or pay-as-you-go membership options. They will KILL your cash flow.
2- Avoid borrowing money to start your box if at all possible.
3- You don't need every piece of gear out there. Start with the basics, and be creative with your programming. Add gear when your membership can pay for it.
4- Don't spread yourself too thin. If you offer every class time under the sun, you'll quickly burn out. Set a reasonable schedule, but keep time for yourself. Farm out jobs that you aren't good at or cause you stress (accounting, cleaning etc). However, do as much of the training as possible until you can comfortably afford help, and make sure that adding extra trainers results in a corresponding increase in revenue.
5- Don't forget to have fun. Frequent special events, free seminars, competitions etc are key. Don't take the whole thing too seriously.

My third box (sold the other two in Canada and moved to Europe) is very different from my first two. We're in just over 1500sf TOTAL space, and run classes of up to 10ppl. My overhead (all in) is under $2000 monthly, and my average client value is around $150/ month. I've set a limit on memberships at 100 (paying monthly). I can manage 100 clients myself, and I'll develop two additional "apprentice" trainers to cover while I'm on holiday or sick. This will give me a take-home salary of $10000 monthly (before taxes) with approx $3000 monthly as savings. With automated systems and farming out some admin tasks, my work week is about 15hrs of coaching and 6-8hrs of admin (programming, web site/ FB etc). I stay at home with my kids during the day (saving a ****-load in daycare fees!) and run evening classes only.

Best of luck with your new venture. Feel free to PM me any time if you have questions etc.

James Gordon
CrossFit Schaffhausen
Awesome advice James . Question: how did prepay and pay as u go options hurt u?
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