To buy a gym for sale, or to build one from scratch, that is the question. There are, of course, pros and cons to both options; however, if you have an opportunity to buy a great gym that’s already turning a profit, I’d advise you to explore that option. Before you start signing contracts though, you must investigate these three queries outlined below. If you can answer “yes” to all three questions on the list, then it might be time to get more serious about buying this gym you’ve got your eyes on.
1. Does The Gym Thrive Without The Owner’s Presence?
If you’d like to buy an existing gym, the first thing to examine is whether or not the owner is the glue that holds the business together. Do they coach most of the classes? Do they “live” at the gym? If the answer to those questions is yes, then buyer beware. Your goal is to find a gym whose owner is actually doing the job of an owner, not an employee.
An owner sets the vision, creates strategies, nurtures the culture, and manages the employees. If the gym that’s for sale has an owner doing all that, then you should definitely consider purchasing it.
2. Is The Backend Of The Gym Business Spotless?
When my husband and I sold our gym in 2018, we gave two handbooks to the new owner. Firstly, our Employee Handbook which is given to all employees during onboarding. Secondly, the Gym Playbook which explains how to run everything from cleaning the floors to running a nutrition challenge. These two handbooks gave the new owner confidence that she could hire employees and operate the gym successfully from day one. If the gym you want to buy doesn’t have handbooks or material that explain the operation of the gym and the onboard process for employees, then I’d reconsider.
It’s a red flag when a business operates haphazardly and doesn’t use any kind of organized system for gym management. It tells me that if I were to purchase the business, I’d have to build the recipe by dissecting the pieces rather than just follow (and iterate) the existing, functional recipe.
3. Is The Gym’s Brand Strong?
Look to buy a gym that has a fantastic reputation—one that has a loyal following and satisfied customers. Take a look at their online reviews and make sure they have good ratings across all platforms. Additionally, take time to feel the energy at the gym. Are folks happy to be there? Is everyone engaged with each other and the coaches? Do you feel good in the space? If yes, then you’ve found a gym that’s more than just a gym, and for that reason it’s certainly worth considering. It’s a bonus if the branding and design are of high quality, too; but it’s not a huge deal if they need some love and attention. Compare it to buying a house: as long as the bones are good, the decor is an easy fix.
If the reputation fails to impress, however, don’t be so quick to be the superhero that swoops in and saves the failing brand from impending collapse. While this gym might already have the space, the signage, the branding, and all of the necessary gym equipment, etc. if they don’t have a happy membership you could be taking on more of a mess than you bargained for.
It can be tremendously easier to buy an existing gym that’s for sale rather than start your own. The time, effort, and money it takes to start something from scratch (rather than improve upon something that already thrives) is vast. If you find a gym for sale that checks off the three items above, you might very well have a winner. However, if you come to the conclusion that you’d like to start your own gym rather than buy an existing one, read up on our four-part Growth Guide. It’s a perfect way to start your gym ownership journey.
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