Today, im bringing you a fitness industry related interview, as opposed to a fitness athlete or model. Lawrence owns Gym-Insight, a gym management software company. I was intrigued many months ago about picking his brains.
Well, I finally got the chance, and here we have the end result.
A sit down chat with Lawrence, founder of Gym Insight.
Hi Lawrence, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I suppose the best place to start would be “at the beginning” how did you get involved in the “gym industry”.
Back in 2008 I was approached by some friends who wanted to start a new 24-hour access gym. Specifically, they wanted me to create the hardware and software required to run a 24-hour unattended gym. Being a computer engineer, this task was right up my alley and I happily accepted. . . I had no idea how complex good fitness center software was.
You’re a gym owner yourself, and this technology was designed to help offset some of your frustrations, and make managing your gym business easier. Firstly, what type of size gym did you initially run?
All of my gyms, including my first one, have been approximately 2,500 sq foot with an average of 800 members.
What where the biggest problems you encountered, which you felt technology would be able to help make your life easier.
It was created out of simple frustration for the products that existed at the time. We wanted more than just a computer program to bill members for us which was the only task the available software at the time seemed to solve. Gym Insight a framework for membership organizations that solves the real problems you face every single day and is focused on promoting profitability.
How important do you believe a solution like gyminsight is to a small, independent gym, as opposed to a larger, national chain gym?
Every aspect of Gym Insight is specifically and intentionally designed to reveal how well your business is doing and which areas need attention. As the owner of an independent gym you are going to be constantly called upon to make choices, decisions and judgments that to demand a clear knowledge of your businesses financial standing.
Gym insight provides this information at your fingertips making it easier to make quick informed decisions therefore, allowing the gym to turn a profit that much faster.
You’ve blogged about “taking on the big boys”. From your experiences, what do you feel the biggest challenge facing small, independent gym owners are?
Cash flow. To survive, business owners need to be vigilant and adhere to an effective cash flow management system. If your club is operating for a substantial amount of time without positive cash flow, your gym operation, without a doubt will be negatively affected to say the least.
Gym Insight offers gym owners to run a 24 hour gym. How could a small gym, considering opening 24 hours, gauge if this would be worthwhile taking the plunge on?
It has long been the norm to expect 24-hour access in large bustling cities like New York or Las Vegas because of their larger populations and reputation for nightlife. However, even small town gym members increasingly expect the same consideration at their local fitness centers.
There are some things to watch out for though, when you have an unattended, self-service facility. Prudent fitness center owners can take extra precautions to ensure that those members of a crafty mindset don’t exploit the process.
The most effective response is a gym membership management system, such as Gym Insight, with surveillance cameras, used in conjunction with photo IDs to decrease the chances of such dishonesty occurring.
From your data, do you see a growing rise in the popularity of 24 hour gyms? Is it a service that you see continue to grow, or is it a slow uptake?
From my own experience as well as what other gym owners have stated is that the 24 hour gym popularity is rising rapidly. An article I read on daily mail even reported 83% of gym goers are more likely to become members of a 24 hour gym as opposed to one with set hours.
Again, from your data and experience, what is the key demographic for using a 24 hour gym. Is it the hardcore bodybuilders, a busy parent juggling family & working life, or something else?
It consists mostly of shift workers, i.e. policemen, hospital workers, security guards, etc., those who are self-conscious and don’t want anyone to see them working out, and those who just want to avoid crowds.
For anyone looking to start up a gym, what would be the first piece of advice you’d give to them?
You to run and develop that business as a business. First, you must acquire knowledge about the fitness business industry. Once you have that knowledge then you should be prepared to follow best business practices as I outlined in my blog Top 10 reasons why gym’s fail.
If a gym is opening as “just a gym” do you see that as a death sentence? I.E a gym should also be augmented with supplement sales, clothing, equipment, training, classes etc?
No I wouldn’t say it’s a death sentence. There are very successful “just gym’s” that have been in business for many years and there is no sign of them going anywhere any time soon.
The key is offering a quality product overall starting with a great location, good equipment, an atmosphere and floor plan that meet different personalities, and ultimately a personable and knowledgeable staff that is supported by, of course, a comprehensive gym management software.
Without all of these your customer service will be obsolete and so will your customers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a gym owner?
Branding. You have to work very hard to get recognized in your marketplace, as a business and as a brand. You have to make sure it’s the right image for your target membership and produces your final objective, to get members to sign up repeatedly for your service.
This “simple” piece of the puzzle will get you every time if it isn’t diligently handled.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a software developer, and software company owner?
Trying to stay ahead of the innovative curve while keeping things simple and intuitive. The simpler the interface, the more complicated it is to build.
I want to give my customers the all the features they want, but maintain the programs speed and simplicity.
If you knew what you know now, when you first started out, how would you do things differently?
Much like I mentioned in my blog “Six Simple Software Industry Lessons for Gym Management” I would clearly define my goal, thoroughly map the paths to reaching it, then pick the SHORTEST one.
Thanks for your time Lawrence!
It was a pleasure ~ Cheers
You can lean more about Gym Insight over at https://www.gyminsight.com/