Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Finding or creating good deals for workout space

Last time, we started chapter 2 with a discussion on how to find and secure the best locations, and we began with a list. Today, we are reviewing that list and then drilling down a little further.

The easiest thing to do is do a Google Maps search on the area. You will want to make a list. From my experience the most useful types of locations to investigate are the following, in order of preference:

  1. Parks (for the outdoor option)
  2. Schools (public and private… more on this later)
  3. Indoor soccer and indoor turf sports facilities
  4. Gymnastics or cheer facilities
  5. Your garage
  6. Martial arts schools or studios
  7. Community centers or senior centers
  8. Grange halls
  9. Boys’ and girls’ clubs (depending on location this may or may not be viable)
  10. Churches
  11. Industrial warehouse spaces
  12. Unused rooms in commercial and retail spaces
  13. Gyms (last for a reason)

You will want to list every single option you have that is either near your home and/or near the majority of your clients. If you are just starting out, you will want it to be near your home, since the convenience factor of being able to get there quickly enables you to be there more. When you are starting out, this can be a make or break advantage, since you’ll need to invest a lot of time when you are creating something new.

To find good deals on space, you first have to think outside the box and make a long list of all potential locations. Don’t rush this step, since it really can be the crux of your business, it can truly lead you to success or failure quickly. As they say in the world of real estate, the three most important factors that determine value and profits of a piece of real estate come down to location, location, location. This is true in any business like this. You first have to have a list to par it down from and find the best that is available for you.

When I say that you can find, or create a deal, I mean that you may come up with an idea for a space that the person or people in charge of that space never would have thought of. Your intended use of the space is not on their radar and never would be unless you brought the possibility to their attention. Another way to explain it is that there may be a set rental fee on a space, but you can negotiate something altogether different. Another way to create a deal is to use public spaces in a creative way to train clients without breaking rules.

Here are some examples of creating deals. First, imagine that you call the local community center to inquire about your fitness Boot Camp. If you call them straight up with something like, “I’m a fitness business owner and I want to rent your hall to run my growing business,” you may come across opposition, since that doesn’t sound like it fits their business model at all, or they might charge you some standard fee, which could be astronomical. Many community centers and rental facilities are used for one-time, all-day or several hour events like weddings, where they charge hundreds of dollars for a short period of time. This is obviously the opposite of what you want, since you are going to be there for short periods of time (like one hour), and will need the space over many weeks and months, more like an apartment lease.

If you first get to know someone who works there and you get to be friendly, you have a much higher likelihood of getting something outside the box. If you combine this with a humble entrance, like, “I am a local fitness instructor and I want to help the locals get in shape,” then they are more likely to help a small-time person out who is trying to get their co-workers in shape. Can you see the difference? This then leads you into offering a class where you can negotiate something entirely different and start with a short-term trial until you become a staple. More on negotiation later, but the point is that you can often create opportunities by your approach, whereas the wrong approach would lead you nowhere.

Here is another example of creating a deal: You go to a local park and start working out. They stop you and tell you that you either need to work for them or you need to pay for your use of the park. No problem! You offer to pay, but you ask for a reduction if you offer it free to all the park’s employees. Will that work every time? Probably not, but who knows? The point is you have to try. Maybe you offer to pay them, but you tell them you can only afford it if you can build up to their normal fee in stages. The first month you can only pay half, for instance, and then more later on as you get clients. If it is a county park, perhaps you can word the contract so that you get access to ALL their parks for one set fee.

Here is another example of creating a deal out of thin air: You go to a gymnastics facility and you offer them ‘free money’. This means that you are going to present it in a way where you are going to run your class early in the morning when no one else in their right mind would be using their facility. They are busy after school, but not 5:30am, right? So you can present this as a ‘found money’ option for them. In other words, they are going to be making money on their space when without you they would not. It is, in essence, free money, or found money, to them. If you can prove you are trustworthy and responsible, and that you add value by bringing in more clients into the facility as well as referrals, they are likely to say yes. We did that over and over again.

To find or create a good deal, you first have to make a list of all available options and resources. Resources include who you know who might be able to get you in somewhere. You then have to visit these places to assess the location and feel out the possibilities, as well as talk to the people to build rapport and get good favor on your side. You then have to explore the possibilities by framing the conversations in a way that helps you.

By framing the conversation, I mean you should look at it from their point of view first and offer yourself as a solution to their problem. You can present what you do as a benefit that adds value to their location. For instance, if they need additional funds in the form of rent or in the form of donations, then you can help them get that rent or raise that money by having your clients contribute. You can also do something professional to get their attention. For instance, you can FedEx or UPS or US Priority Mail a big envelope to the owner of the facility that they have to sign for so you know they got it, letting them know you are serious about working with them to set yourself up above all other competitors.

In your FedEx letter proposal you outline how your business is going to bring in potentially hundreds of people over the course of the year, and all of those people will be seeing the business that you are partnering with and referring to that business. If you are marketing to a for-profit business, this is the best type of bait to use. As opposed to looking like the humble trainer for the community center, in this case you look like a professional who is bringing money into the other business. A gymnastics facility is looking for kids to join the program, right? Well you are bringing in lots of moms in the area! Those moms have kids; those kids may join the facility later in the day. You need to make this clear in your explanation of how you add value. You can cross promote with the facility to accomplish this. Also in your letter, you can let them know that you are looking to build a long-term relationship and are ready to commit. If you are in a competitive market, you might even include an earnest money check for a few hundred dollars to show your commitment.

Remember this: You CAN find and/or create a great deal to get your location going. You just have to have belief and faith in your ability to perform and someone is going to respond in a positive way. Where there is a will there is a way and you must persist until you find a place to start.

Next time, we will discuss Indoor vs. Outdoor Strategies.

Check out a proven fitness boot camp business model for you to use right here.

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