When They Leave to Start Their Own Gym: What to Do

When They Leave To Start Their Own Gym: What to Do - a man leaving the gym

By Kenny Markwardt, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor

One of the things we fear most as gym owners is a coach or member leaving to start a gym down the street. It’s right up there with heart attacks, lawsuits and kids accidentally getting hit with kettlebells.

We wonder how many people will leave, what people will say, how the new gym might beat us and if our business will survive. 

I’m here to tell you not to worry about it. In fact, if you’re really in this business to change lives and serve the people you love, you should be happy about another gym opening up. After all, the more lives we save through fitness, the better.

So here’s what to do when someone leaves your gym to start a new one nearby.


Vent in Private and Move On


When someone leaves to start a new gym, don’t do anything crazy.  

You’re going to be hurt. You’re going to feel betrayed. You’re going to have resentment, and you’re probably going to have some emotions to sort through. Don’t make this stuff public. 

Write the email you want to send but don’t send it. Make the video you want to make but don’t post it. Say the things you want to say but say them to yourself. Public reaction might feel good for a split second, but your venting won’t age well.  

The best thing you can do is look ahead confidently, wish the new entrepreneur well and focus on the path forward.

Think about every breakup you’ve ever witnessed or been part of. The person who puts on a smile and focuses on self-improvement always ends up a heck of a lot better off than the person who seeks revenge and wallows in the transgressions of a former mate.


Remember the Good Things


After you’ve moved on from the initial shock, focus on your best clients and the people you love.  

Through research and data analysis, Two-Brain Business has found that the ideal microgym has about 150 members. This knowledge is really important when some one leaves to open a facility. You really don’t want everyone. You just want 150 people you love and who love you for what you provide. If you focus on your Seed Clients and your ideal client avatar, you will attract those 150 clients. And you should help the new gym owner find 150 ideal clients, too!

So make a list of the clients you love and have conversations with them. Find out what they love about your gym and what their biggest challenges are. Cherish the things that thrill them, then focus on how you can help them with their challenges. Make your ideal clients happy and more will come into the gym because like attracts like.


Communicate and Help


While giving a new competitor the cold treatment might seem like the right approach, you should have open and honest conversations instead.  

It might be hard to do so at first, but having an amicable relationship will be so much better in the long run. Help the owner clarify whom he or she is trying to serve and let the new entrepreneur know exactly whom you are trying to serve. Help the person understand life and decisions as an owner. Recommend Chris Cooper’s “Gym Owner’s Handbook” or any of the other books he’s written. Try and get the owner started on the right foot.

Doing all this will save you both a ton of headaches: The new business owner will understand it’s unwise to open up charging $80 a month, coach 28 classes a week and have FITAID running from the drinking fountain. Give the owner the resources that have helped you so the local fitness community isn’t affected by a new gym that offers unsustainable rates and terrible service.


Don’t Sweat Departures


When people want to leave and go to the new gym, let them go.  

Provide them with a safe place to have an honest conversation with you about why they are leaving. Confidently assure them that you’ll welcome them back with open arms when they return.

If you’ve done everything I’ve recommended above, you don’t have anything to fear. Sure, you might lose a client, but if the other gym truly is a better fit, you’ll just open up a space for someone who is a better fit for you. Some clients might go over there for a month, recognize that you’re really a better place for them and come right back. They’re definitely not going to come back if you make a big deal of their departure.  


Stay the Course


So don’t worry: Someone who leaves to open up another gym down the street isn’t actually your competition. It’s another opportunity for a set of seed clients to be served by an ideal leader, and it’s a way for you to fit more of the people you love into your facility. 

Take the actions I’ve recommended and focus on being the best you can be for the people you love.

If you do that, you’ll have nothing to fear.

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