As Two-Brain gyms become more successful, they’re often approached to “buy out” another local gym owner. Or, after building replicable processes, they see the opportunity to expand to a second location.
As the gap between profitable gyms and unprofitable gyms widens, these opportunities will become more common.
So which is better: to start a new gym from scratch under your profitable brand or to buy an existing gym—and its revenues and problems?
Setting the Baseline
Let’s start with the cost to start a gym and compare the benefits and challenges of buying an existing gym against that anchor point.
You can start a new gym for under $30,000, including $5,000 for mentorship (to make sure it works), $20,000 for equipment (that’s more than enough), and $5,000 for space upgrades.
But there are some cases where it makes sense to buy an established gym. Just make sure you answer the questions below first.
Questions to Answer Before Buying
Why do you want to own a second gym?
If I hear: “I just want to help more people. My first gym doesn’t take any of my time,” then we proceed with the purchase.
But usually, I hear this: “It’s a great opportunity. There are no other gyms in the area. My members could choose where to visit. It’s almost profitable. I know I could fix it.”
That last one is in bold because I hear it a lot.
The problem is that it takes three times the effort and three times the time to fix a problem than to avoid the problem. Here’s a case in point: Two-Brain mentor Kaleda Connell built a profitable gym and reached functional retirement in three years. It took me 10. She started from scratch; I had to fix my early mistakes.
And if you’re opening a second location to make more money, you should be sure that you’re maximizing revenue at your first location. Because a second location doesn’t double your workload; it quadruples it.
Is There a Third Option?
Here are the questions I ask next:
- Is there a chance you could get the gym’s members even if you didn’t buy the gym?
- Is there an easier way to increase your income in your current gym in less time than you’d require to fix the other gym?
- Are clients in the other gym accustomed to lower rates? Do they match your target demographic?
- Why is the other gym failing? Are you buying the problems that are killing it?
- Does a higher membership count move you closer to your “perfect day”?
- What liabilities are you also buying? (For example, a lease.)
After thinking it through, many owners decide not to buy out another owner. Here are some reasons I’ve heard recently:
“It would take me months to fix that gym. If I calculate the value of my time, it would be a lot easier to just increase my sales by $2,000 per month at my current location.”
“I’m pretty close to my perfect day already. I can’t imagine dealing with all the discounts and student memberships that killed the other gym.”
“I know I could fix the culture over there, but it would cause me a lot of stress in the meantime.”
“They want a lot more than their valuation. No thanks.”
“I realized it was just my ego saying, ‘I want to be the guy who owns two gyms.’”
Many decide they don’t want to buy the other person’s problems. But they do want to help. So sometimes they offer the other owner a job or pay for the client list or even buy the equipment.
There are ways to help that don’t involve sacrificing your perfect day (or your income!) to save someone else. But kudos for wanting to!
What’s the Other Gym Actually Worth?
If you’re sure you want to own two gyms and you’ve examined the less expensive, easier options, the next step is to anchor the conversation with numbers. You can use our valuation tool:
Forget intangibles like “community” or location. How profitable is the gym? How long has it been open? How much of my time will this second location require?
If the gym has been open for 10 years and the owner earns $30,000 per year, take a hard pass—you can make more than that in your first year if you start from scratch with a mentor. And you won’t have to go through the work and pain of trying to change the gym.
After all, there’s a reason the owner is selling—and it’s not because he or she wants to “pursue other opportunities.” No one sells a profitable gym that runs itself.
Do I Have to Buy It NOW?
If you do want to buy out another, we’ve been through it many times. The path is clear. Just make sure your own house is in tip-top shape because you’ll have to focus your full attention on the second gym for a few months.
Clients who have been through the RampUp are generally successful when they buy out another gym—unless they decide they’re doing just fine with one.
After all, no one needs a second gym when the first one pays well.