So you bought a Snap Fitness, now what?

I worked with a lot of Snap Fitness owners.  The main reason is because I was a headquarters employee for several years.  I met many owners during my time as the Director of Franchisee Training. 

They were/are some of the best people I have ever come across in my professional life.  Most of them were successful at other careers and earned the ability to afford to own and operate a 250K business.

Almost none of them came from the industry.

Zero of them were ever told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Now it’s disclaimer time:  They weren’t sold a bill of goods.  They weren’t necessarily deceived.  They simply never asked the right questions.  And how would they know what questions to ask?

And many of the questions that are answered for them now, through trial and error, were not able to be answered 5 to 8 years ago. 

What exactly am I talking about?

Well, let’s forget about the fast change in the industry towards a more training centric business model.  This was too hard to predict 8 years ago when Snap Fitness and Anytime Fitness were starting to really take off.

I am talking about the fact that no matter what happens to this industry, as it continues to change and evolve, it will always be a production based business.

It will always be a numbers game, like no other business. 

To clarify:  You are selling a service, not a product.  Your equipment is not a product, and even if it was, the “member” cannot take it home.  Essentially you are charging them money to rent equipment.  That’s really it.  That was how owning a Snap Fitness or Anytime Fitness was viewed.  Changing lives?  How? By charging them 35 dollars per month to have their own little precious access card that allowed them to come 24 hours per day to walk on a treadmill, glide on an arc trainer, and/or move the little yellow knob around on the selector equipment?  Well that will work for a percentage of the population.  And now we have one of the questions that you didn’t think to ask, and if you did, your franchisor likely didn’t know the answer.

“What kind of population density should I look for?”

Answer:  “Probably way more than you were told if your plan is operate the facility the way we have ‘sold’ it to you.”

16% of the population belongs to a gym.  Okay, that’s a figure we can work with. But less than 5% of the population is a regular life long exerciser, meaning that they are in a gym 3 to 5 days per week year round for life.  These are the people who reach their goals and maintain their goals.  This is the percentage you can count on maintaining in a given market over time if all you do is open your doors, keep your club clean and ‘take sign ups’ as they walk in. So, if you go to market of 20 thousand people, for example, and there are 6 other gyms, with a combined number of 3000 members, you will struggle if you run it how you were told to run it.  Out of 20000 people, about 1000 fall into the category of life-long exercisers.  And 16% of 20000 people is around 3000.  This means that this market has about the national average for people who belong to a club.  Would your franchisor approve of you opening in this market?  I predict that the answer is yes. 

“Our model attracts a different kind of exerciser.  Someone who wants a fast, convenient and affordable workout in a nice clean and comfortable environment.”  They say this as if no other gym could possibly pull it off. 

“This model works everywhere.” 

True, if the stars all align properly.  True, if it’s staffed 50 hours per week, marketed properly, the trainers are employees, you have space at least for small group, you set goals, take these goals seriously, learn how to answer the phone, book appointments, give tours, ask for referrals, and actually try to change some lives.  Daily.  Every day.  AND you staff past 6pm, pay someone to handle billing and collection issues, so you don’t get bogged down in that and can focus on production.  Oh, and the people who clean the gym every day, are not the same people involved in production.  Did I mention that you need to spend most of your time selling, producing, planning for selling and producing?  In other words, just so I am clear:  This is not as simple as open your doors, keep a stack of contracts handy, and simply work on your filling out forms and entering them into the software system skills.  AND you still might fail, if you don’t figure out how to be a great leader.  Are you still interested in becoming our next franchisee?

“We have franchisees breaking even in less than 2 months all of the time.”

I’m sure you do.  Let me guess:  They opened up in a town of around 5 thousand people with no other fitness option, and their rent is less than $3000.00 per month?

Throw in on top of all this the fact that the industry has changed a ton since 2005, and you don’t have to wonder why so many Snap centers fail. I predict that more are closing now than opening.

Now, the good news is that this model can work and work well. 

You start with accepting the fact that you have to learn how to do the things I mentioned above.  And they aren’t difficult things to master, but they do take daily effort.  Too much effort for you?  Not what you got into this for?  I understand.  No need to apologize.  Sell the club, get what you can and move on.  If you are scraping by, running it the wrong way, and your franchisee lease is about to expire, go ahead and ride it out and then close.  It ain’t going to get any easier in the future. 

If you want to stay in this industry, learn and put in some work, you can be rewarded big time.

Once you figure out how to produce, start pitching some of your boring selector equipment.  Make room for training groups of 2 to 4.  Get some bells, balls, bands, and ropes. 

In the meantime, be sure to go to the home page of and take advantage of the FREE video that answers the Big 3 questions.

How do I get more leads?

How do I sell more PT?

How do I retain more members and more employees? Then, go change some lives.

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