“Money follows excellence.”
“Excellence leaves clues.”
These are the phrases we repeat to ourselves. We chant them while we’re mopping. We accept them as answers to the question, “How do I run a good gym?”
Without a definition, excellence is a moving target. Without objective measurement, excellence will always be a wish.
Last month, I asked Greg Glassman for a metric that would define a “successful” gym. He didn’t give me a hard number right away, but when pressed, he agreed that “Profit” is an undeniable part of excellence.
I took the question to the Mentoring Team at TwoBrain. The unanimous answer was “profit.” There were dozens of others (like ARM and LEG) that are correlates of profit, and subjective answers like “perfect day.” I agree with all of them.
Then one senior mentor said, “The ability to stay profitable long-term.” So profit over TIME might be a better answer. As you and I have both experienced, it’s all too easy to have one amazing month, feel like we’re on top of the world…and then have a terrible month immediately afterward.
I think “Excellence” in the fitness business can be measured in 7 different ways:
First, numerically–both the most accurate and the most stark. Are you profitable, or not? If you’re not profitable–including paying yourself a wage that supports your lifestyle–the rest doesn’t matter, because it will all go away if you can’t survive.
Second, subjectively (owner lifestyle.) This is the owner’s “Perfect Day”. We ask owners to define their “Perfect Day” before we start the Incubator so that we have a clear “Point B” to aim for. It’s simply too easy to say “My life is pretty good…” and accept mediocrity unless you set a clear goal.
Third, Coach Education and Opportunity. No matter how great your gym, or how profitable in the short-term, if your key staff continues to leave, you’ll always be fragile.
Fourth, Culture. Believing that you have a “good culture” isn’t enough; that’s intangible. Having a culture that matches your ideal client is the goal. If you have a fun, exciting culture that’s mostly built on college students, you probably won’t attract the 45-year-old professionals (except for the ones who want to hang around college students…)
Fifth, Client Experience. You can be the best coach in your gym if you want to. But does the client get the same experience when you’re not there? If not, your gym can’t sustain an upward trajectory. And you can’t live forever.
Sixth, Resilience. Bad stuff is going to happen. Can your gym survive it? Going “scorched earth” and starting from scratch over and over isn’t the correct answer. If you had a particularly bad month, how far would you backslide? Would you drop to your income level of two years ago? Would you have to remove a coach? Every step forward you take HAS to be solid enough to avoid sliding backward.
Seventh, long-term planning. This might be a correlate, but in my experience, NO gym without a long-term plan is a long-term success. Because no one is excellent by accident.
I break down the 7 Areas of Excellence more here:
What about COACHING excellence?
Does the most-certified make the best coach? Richard Simmons had hundreds of thousands of adoring fans who would swear that he improved their lives.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss excellence in coaching, and how to measure it.