Friday, December 2, 2016

Indoor vs. Outdoor Boot Camp Location Strategies

Last time in Chapter 2, we talked about finding or creating good deals for workout space. Today we go one step further and really get a handle on whether to hold your fitness business (boot camp, CrossFit, or other group fitness program) exclusively indoors, or exclusively outdoors, and how to decide what to do.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Strategies


As we discussed in the planning stage, the indoor and outdoor flexibility of a Boot Camp is a major advantage over other fitness businesses. Since people consider the words Boot Camp to mean something out of the norm and out of their comfort zone, you can use this to your advantage by saving a ton of money on rent. If you are broke, or just starting out, I highly recommend you look into this option. Depending on what area of the country you live in, the weather can be a big factor.
One fact that many don’t consider is that there are many places with covered areas, especially at parks and schools, and this creates a whole new realm of possibility since a partial outdoor Boot Camp can function in pouring rain and even snow. I know, since I did this all year around in my area for years.



Before getting into more specifics, it is important to cover the overall business concept. Indoor locations are more secure and steady, they are immune to the weather, and for the most part they will give a more professional feel to your business. The outdoor locations are more prevalent in many areas, so there are more options, they are far cheaper or even free, and they allow for fresh air, which breeds its own fan base of people who prefer to work out in the great outdoors. There are benefits and detriments to both options.

The problem with outdoors might be obvious. You may be in a city where everything is already regulated and they have shutdown Boot Camps altogether. If this is the case, you still might have a chance by working the system and finding someone who knows someone in power who can help you out. You can just cough up the high fees and do it anyway.

Another issue is that you might be able to work out free, but you have to play friendly with other people and groups using the parks. We often got around this by remaining flexible. For instance, if 80% of the time a park was free, but 20% of the time there was a sports league renting the fields or a birthday party taking over a covered area, we just gave them the right away, moved to a different area in the park, and kept on going as if it was a normal course of business. Many of the regular sports leagues just got used to us and we even befriended them and made many parents our clients. We approached them with free trials. Since they are standing around anyway for weeks or months, they might as well make their time more productive while they wait for their kid to get done with long, grueling practices. Again, we avoided conflict by making friends first.

If a park became overly busy at a particular time of year, or if we felt that we were outwearing our welcome, we simply switched parks from time to time. After a year, we had truly mastered this, and actually created a rotation schedule. We were at one park for a week, and then rotated to another park another week. We knew in advance when there might be a traffic problem and anticipated it by building it into our system. This way we were always under the radar and avoided all conflicts. For the most part, we didn’t have to pay any kind of rent for a very long time. Once we finally did have to, we had plenty of clients to be able to afford to pay.

We often helped clean up parks, volunteered, or just donated to the city to show our appreciation. I never had a problem with gratitude and generosity, and I suggest you behave the same way. My point is not to show you how to ‘beat the system’ or get off ‘scot-free’ without having to pay any money in order for you to be stingy. My point is to show you how you can be creative and successfully get your business off the ground even if you are broke or if it seems the world system is stacked against you. It is stacked against you for a reason. It separates those determined to win from those who choose to focus on the negative and lose. It’s your choice.

If you go with only the indoor strategy, you are going to have to come up with more money and you are going to have to push to build your business faster in order to pay for it. This is a doable strategy, and the most popular among most of the Boot Camp owners today. Costs vary wildly, as we discussed before. You may get something for $200 per month, or maybe $2,000. I always found places for only a few hundred. The other key is that I did not pay by the hour, since I knew I was going to maximize the time I had and was willing to do 5 days or even 6 days per week in the location, so negotiating a flat monthly rental fee was by far a better deal. If this is not clear to you, I’ll give something to relate to: What is going to cost you more money in the long term, paying for a motel by the hour, a hotel per night, or paying for an apartment per month?

Obviously the motels and hotels are raking it in since they are selling ‘convenience’. You want the wholesale situation of the apartment rental. The only exception to this is if you know for a fact you are only using it short-term while you are looking for a new location or moving locations. I rarely, if ever, see the need for this, however.

The other major factor to consider before jumping into the indoor model is that you are going to probably deal with a smart business person. This person either owns the business or the building and will probably want a good tight lease with you and might even try to get into earning a part of your revenue. This is all negotiable, but I would never pay more than 20% of my revenue if I did get into this situation. A rule of thumb on the deal is to try for a low flat monthly fee, and for month-to-month at first.

If you can’t get a good enough deal with that, then go for a yearly lease in exchange for a little less rent. If you can’t afford that, then you offer a revenue share. If the rent is over $1,000 per month, and I really want the space, I would offer 20% of my revenue, with a cap of, say, $1,200 and see if I can make a deal. You can incrementally increase your percentage revenue share and the cap, but you need to be really careful here, as this decision could stick with you for the lifetime of your stay in that facility. If you are truly building a powerhouse business you could potentially be bringing in well over $10,000 per month in one good location in a decent market, and you don’t want to end up with a business partner who is getting your upside potential. After all, you are going to be doing the majority of the work, and taking the majority of the risk.

Finally, one really positive quality of an indoor location in the early morning is that morning exercisers tend to be more consistent, since they are creatures of habit who are treating their workouts like brushing their teeth. They feel really weird if they don’t get it in, as opposed to after work exercisers who tend to have more excuses and conflicts that make them less consistent with their workouts. These are just the norms I have found to be true in my area and with my clients, so take that with a grain of salt. Since these people in the indoor morning camps are more consistent, it means you get more consistent and timely revenues.


Next time, we will discuss the amazing Combination Strategy for fitness boot camps and other group fitness businesses (which works equally as well with CrossFit).



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

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