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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 08-29-2005, 09:09 AM   #1
Tony Young
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As I look at the pics from the various CrossFits (!?!!) I've assumed that these were the core memberships and not the total enrollment. But,...

The question is; how many paid clients do you (the commercial outfits) have? How long since you started and do you see client numbers topping out or growing? Are you at capacity?

I'm in the middle of my business plan and have some optimal numbers for six months from opening of 6 to a class, about a dozen classes a week, 72 class spots. Assuming 3 client visits a week that indicates about 24 clients. Realistic or all wet?
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Old 08-29-2005, 06:15 PM   #2
Don Stevenson
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Tony, I'm doing the same sort of figures at the moment in order to get a crossfit gym up and running.

From my experience in the industry working for both a small training studio and a medium sized gym here are some thoughts.

1. The bigger the gym the lower the percentage of people that actually turn up each week. In the medium size gym i work at we have about 700 members on the books but you'd be lucky to see half of those each week and a fair percentage of the total visits to the gym come from a core of 100 or so members who are in 4-5 times a week.

2. In the smaller operation we have about 150 clients on the books and even though more of them turn up each week (maybe 75-80%) there are still times when people are away for work or sick etc and don't turn up at all for 1-6 weeks at a time.

It would be nice to get people to come 3 times a week consistently but even if the program is great and they enjoy exercise most people aren't as obsessed with exercise as are the sort of people that run crossfit gyms!

In doing my business plan i'm aiming to get at least 20 people signed up before we open and then hopefully grow that number to at least 50+ within a short space of time.

I too would be interested to hear from the other affiliates since most of what i've just said is based on circumstantial observations from different training facilities.
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Old 08-30-2005, 12:30 AM   #3
David Werner
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Tony, Don

Here are our observations as the first Crossfit affiliate, having been in business as Crossfit North for over three years now.

Our growth was much slower than your estimate Tony. Your growth may very well not be so slow though. For one thing Nick Nibler and I are not good self/business promoters (we don't like it, we don't do it) getting out and promoting your business might just make those numbers happen in the time frame you've alloted. The overall Crossfit community is much larger now. Your real promotion however will come from satisfied clients telling their friends - this is the main factor contributing to our growth.

It doesn't do any good to attract clients until you have the infrastructure to train them, trainers, equipment, space, experience, etc.

Starting small was a blessing for us, allowing us to gain experience, equipment, and refine the concept of what our business would look like.

Don, I think all your estimates are right on, and irrelevant. It seems that we attract a different kind of person. Our typical client does not sign up before they can see/experience what they are getting, and they tend to come. People do drop out for periods due to vacations, business travel, pregnancy or whatever, they also tend to come back.

Crossfit is a nich player, our people must be willing to work hard for their results - this will always be a subset of the overall fitness industry. That still leaves us with a lot of people to help.

Tony, those numbers might be realistic if you work at reaching new people. Our best results have come from having events. Seminars and competitions have all brought in new clients, maybe because those are the only times we actually promote.

Regards
Dave Werner
Crossfit North
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Old 08-30-2005, 03:35 AM   #4
Don Stevenson
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Funny you should mention my estimates being irrelevant. Even as i finished typing that up i was thinking "crossfit people are different"
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Old 08-30-2005, 05:49 AM   #5
Tony Young
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Dave, Don,
Thanks for the input. You're dead on about Crossfitters being different. I have 4 clients now who each have been out for periods that, for normal people, would have spelled the end of their training plans. Yet they're back.

Yes, small and slow are good. I've stumbled over a lot of good experience so far.

I'm very into the event promtion idea. I have a list of them ready to go.

I think you're right about my numbers being too optimistic. But I've purposely done no promoting because I don't have a proper infrastucture yet. Homemade implements in a converted garage are fine for a few freinds but I need to upgrade, hence the business plan. I need a loan to really get going.

My tentative location is pretty out of the way. What part does location play in your business? I know CrossFit is a destination location but how far does that go? I presuming about a 20 minute drive radius. Thoughts?

And...

I've "scholarshipped" all my clients up til now, partly because of their finances and partly due to my newness and lack of immediate credibility. Though when I move everybody new goes to full dues. Do you alter your fee schedule for individual circumstances or do you stick to the fee plan?
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:58 AM   #6
Zach Even - Esh
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Here are some thoughts:

- fees should remain the same for everyone, I do think you can offer some slight differences for military / law, and students. If someone brings their family member you might do something for them but I think too many options makes a bit too much

- i like how many CF places do monthly unlimited or drop in - these 2 options are great

- you might hold trial CF classes 2 x month or something, or allow a member to bring in one friend a month for a free session to try

- these are all just ideas, don't take them all though, try one and see if it works, get rid of what doesn't work

- but, if you must scholar someone, they can also make up for their lack of $$ by doing several things for you in return:

1) help cleaning up regularly
2) bringing you referrals (this means they give you a person's contact info that they honestly feel will want to be part of your CF) - as you mentioned, CF'ers are different, when people refer others they are often "like minded" - I prefer to get my clients via referral - these people know what they are getting into

** be confident in your ability - don't feel bad charging people - it's ok to get payed for what we do - we are in the business of giving people the best health which in turn makes their life and everyone in their life that much happier - that is PRICELESS! **

- CF is powerful b/c it brings people together and forms a community, it goes beyond a gym or fitness ctr. - we become family - so create the atmosphere of such, and hold BBQ's and get together's at the gym and allow the members to bring friends to hang out, etc. -

your promoting can come through local publicity - how can you do this? invite the local fire dept in for a FREE hands on training seminar and invite the press - hold a strong man contest for them at the end of this

- you can also hold strong man contests with a small entry fee, taking this "entry fee" and donating it to the local cause - now you've created something of interest to the press and they will want to see you :-)

i hope my mind rambling random thoughts has helped :-)

--zach :-)
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Old 08-31-2005, 07:06 AM   #7
Ben Kaminski
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Those are a lot of great ideas. Keep us posted on your developments, Tony!
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Old 09-01-2005, 07:53 AM   #8
Tony Young
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Zach,
Thanks for your thoughts. As a musician I'm comfortable with charging for my time and talent; I just didn't have any CF experience in the begining. Now I'm OK with it.

I like your ideas for promotions. I have several on paper I need to get them fleshed out. I've submitted serveral PR's with no response. If you have time could you look at them and give me some feedback? PM might be best.

Ben,
How does Sunday 9/18 look for a group thang?
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Old 09-05-2005, 02:11 AM   #9
Michael Pearce
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I am just starting a business plan for a Crossfit here in Japan. So thanks for the information from everyone. I will let everyone know any information I gather on the market segments here. It might help somewhere.
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:15 PM   #10
Jason Erickson
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Michael -

There's a Circular Strength Training rep in Japan that you might do some cross-promotion with. You can find Ryan on the RMAX forums, particularly the Japan forum.
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