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10 Reasons Why Fitness Businesses Stop Growing Revenue

By Sean Greeley

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A lot of successful businesses start growing, make great progress in the early days with the foundational sales and marketing system they learn, then “bam!”…. they hit a wall.

Things get “stuck.”

Generally this happens around the 5k, or 15k per month mark in revenue for fitness businesses (some make it a little further… but not much).

The business owners that were first leading the initial charge in revenue growth, are now overwhelmed with all the “things” they have to do in order to continue that growth and very quickly they find themselves in over their heads.

What got them to this point has now made them prisoners of their own making.

They’re doing all kinds of work IN the business, working harder (and longer hours than they ever have), and yet things aren’t improving.

The business has become a grind.

The simple systems they learned and applied early on, that they once saw great success with, now aren’t enough to scale to the next level… especially in the face of competition that often continues heating up all over town.

When they find themselves struggling with these problems, many business owners start losing hope.

They question if they have what it takes to continue growing.

They think “maybe this isn’t for me.”

A voice whispers in the back of their mind (or screams loudly) that things were easier back when the business was smaller. And they question if all this “work” is really worth it.

Maybe it isn’t.

Maybe they should shrink and make things smaller again, when life was easier and there was less stress.

But since they’ve expanded and now have increased financial liabilities of a bigger lease and bigger payroll… then they can’t just “walk away” or downsize easily.

So… they’re between a rock and a hard place.

Why Revenue Growth is So Important

There are several components involved in continued growth of your fitness business over time.

Personal and professional management, program development, staff development, marketing, and financing just to name a few.

But you don’t “earn the right” to work on any of them if you can’t keep growing REVENUE.

Revenue growth “funds” the investments of time and money required to work on all the other “stuff” involved in continued growth of your company.

Which will include mostly systems and people development that will give you more freedom to do more of the things you love to do while your business continues growing!

The 3 Requirements

To start with, there are three big requirements to scaling up revenue.

If you don’t have each of these in place, then it’s nearly impossible to grow.

So let’s review each of them and you can see how you stack up.

  1. A BIG Dream,
 Mindset, Focused Commitment – One of the many reasons businesses stop growing is because business owners have already reached their initial goals.

Much like an athlete that wins a big championship, when you don’t set new goals for the next season… you’ll soon find yourself lost and drifting.

You aren’t very focused or driven. Work is drudgery and ultimately not fun because it’s not moving you forward towards a goal.

This is a great time to stop, spend some time away from your business, and dream.

Dream a new (and bigger) dream that gets you excited all over again about growing (both personally and professionally).

A dream must be big enough that it inspires you to step outside your comfort zone and challenges you.

And that’s also where many get stuck.

They are just simply dreaming too small.

They think about just making a little more income, paying a few bills, and maybe eliminating some debt.

But they are not thinking BIG enough in terms of an impact and difference they can make in the world (purpose) to more than fund any material goals they have about buying a new car or a bigger home.

Get a big enough dream that inspires you to step outside your comfort zone!

  1. Love and Commitment to Serve the People You Work with Everyday – It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking about goals, numbers, metrics… and forget about the REASON WHY you started your business in the first place and what you love most about it.

In the fitness industry we are in the service business. We’re all here to serve our clients, helping them solve problems, and achieve goals they’ve hired us for.

And there is tremendous joy in that calling.

Remember to focus on each and every client. Spend time giving back and creating more value for them in all areas of their life.

One of my mentors has a great saying that “you can’t give good away.”

The more you give out, the more it just comes right back to you.

Help everyone you can, smile and show them you care… and make sure your team is aligned with that purpose too.

  1. Continued Development of Your Sales & Marketing Skill Sets – Just like any other skill set… there is more learning and orders of mastery required to get to the next level. And the more competition you face, the more important advanced strategy, branding, messaging, design and more come into play in winning the hearts and minds of your prospects and clients.

We’re going to cover those pieces now, so let’s dive in…

#1 You Haven’t Evolved Your Vision

Too many business owners get stuck doing the same things that they did when they first started their business.

That doesn’t work.

You can’t train clients, manage staff, do all the sales, do all the marketing, manage the accounting and bookkeeping, handle client scheduling, billing, programming, and more.

That’s just not a plan for success.

You have to build a team of leaders you can grow and trust to take responsibility for different functions in the business.

But before you can do THAT, first you must adjust your mindset and vision for the role you should be playing.

It’s time to evolve the way you think about your role and how you create and deliver value in your company.

And it’s time to re-define your role and the priorities you focus on to drive revenue growth functions and activity.

#2 You Have No Defined Target Market

Going after everyone as a potential client is not a healthy business strategy.

In the beginning, it was acceptable.

You could help someone, he or she could help your business by making a purchase, and that’s fine.

But as you grow, on boarding the RIGHT clients becomes more important for continued growth than anything else.

Think about your business now.

You have clients who are a joy to work with.

They make your job fun, and if all you did was work with those people everyday… your world would be amazing.

Then you also have had (or currently have) clients that drive you mad.

And if you had to continue working with them forever… well you’d just assume do something else with your life because the money isn’t worth it.

So what do you do at this point?

You must get really clear about WHO your best customer is, WHERE they live, and WHY they buy (emotional drivers).

THEN focus all your marketing energy and
resources on finding more people just like them.

#3 Your Company isn’t Positioned Properly

When you sound the same as everyone else with your marketing, there’s no reason for a prospect to choose YOU.

And when you have really poor positioning, and don’t know how to market or sale, most fitness business owners resort to discounting.

This is a dangerous business practice.

And in fact, it’s putting many group training models out of business right now.

The guy across the street is charging 125/month?

I’ll charge 100/month.

Another competitor is charging 100/month?

I’ll charge 90/month.

Before you know it, YOU’RE paying your clients to just come workout with you and there is ZERO PROFIT in your business!

This can’t continue.

So business owners end up closing their doors.

In service businesses, you’re either the cheapest or the best; there is no “in-between.”

This ALL starts with your company positioning statement.

A positioning statement answers the questions:

  • Why should someone choose you?
  • How is your business different from other competitors in your marketplace?
  • Why would a prospect be a fool to choose anyone else BUT you?

There are seven building blocks we teach that make up a good positioning statement. They are:

Your business name: What’s your business name?

Credibility booster(s): Have you won any awards? What recognition have you received? How many years have you been in business? How many clients has your business served? What media have you been featured in?

Service description: What type of services do you provide? What type of programs do you offer?

Unique program benefits: What benefits do clients achieve when they work with you?

Category: What category are you competing in? Are you competing against local gyms or health clubs, boot camps, personal training studios, other weight loss programs? If you’re going to carve out a space to be the best, you better get clear on what category that space is in!

Primary negative emotions around competitors: What do clients who have left your competitors say they hated about working with them?

Primary positive emotions around your company: What do your best clients say they most love most about working with you?
Here’s an example of what a positioning statement looks like when it’s all put together:

“Joe’s gym has been voted the ‘best place to workout’ in New York and is nationally recognized for providing results-oriented fitness experiences through expert coaching, support and accountability in a family-like environment you’ll love.

Unlike big box gyms that treat you like just a number on their books, our members love the individual attention and support they receive to help them reach their goals.”

Once you’re clear on a target market and your company positioning, it’s time to dive into lead generation strategy.

#4 You Haven’t Defined a Lead Generation Strategy

Most business owners at this stage are doing only random acts of lead generation activity, and then only when they get desperate enough for sales.

They run a Facebook ad here, a print advertisement there, someone tells them they should send out a press release and they try it one time… then they stop.

Random acts of inconsistent behavior won’t get you anywhere in business (or life).

It takes a clear strategy, plan, and consistent action every day to drive your business forward.

And of all the areas involved in business strategy, your strategy for delivering the right amount of qualified prospects into your sales process each month is one of the most important for revenue growth.

You must define your lead generation strategy and focus your efforts on consistently executing the plan each and every month.

#5 Your Messaging isn’t Emotionally Engaging Your Prospects

There is nothing worse than boring, drab copy.

Don’t insult your prospect (and disrespect yourself) by letting weak messaging go out the door.

Your marketing messages must emotionally engage your prospect in a unique and powerful way.

And you’ve got to take time to craft compelling offers that move a prospect to take action and move further down the fitness marketing life cycle.

#6 You Don’t Have Enough (or Well Developed) Lead Sources

In marketing speak, a lead source is much like the pond that you go fishing in.

When you know what fish you want to catch (target market), and you know what bait to use (offer), then you have to know the right fishing holes (lead sources) to go find and catch them in.

For example, if one of your key lead generation strategies is advertising… then your lead sources are the places you go spend money to advertise.

Maybe that’s Facebook.

Perhaps your local community newsletter or magazine that gets mailed to high-end homes.

Your goal should be to research, test, and develop AS MANY STRONG LEAD SOURCES AS YOU CAN within each lead generation strategy until you’ve met your goals.

Too many business owners don’t put in the time to research and test.

Too many are jumping around with random acts of marketing, without a clear strategic plan, and without putting in the time required to develop good fishing ponds they can rely on to catch all the fish they could ever want.

#7 You’re Not Consistently Focusing on Lead Generation Activity

This one is an extension of the strategy and sources issues listed above.

You can have great strategy, you can have great fishing holes you KNOW you can catch fish in… but if you don’t go fishing everyday… you aren’t going to catch fish!

Unfortunately it happens all the time.

Inconsistent behavior leads to inconsistent results in ALL areas of our business and lives.

Just like your fitness clients that are up and down with their nutrition plan and eating, workout well one week… then are off for 2 weeks… and frustrated with their lack of progress… the same applies to your sales and marketing efforts.

It’s the little things… done everyday… that determine our success (or failure).

And when you own a growing business… this is a tough one.

We get it.

You get busy working with clients or in other areas of your business, and you stop doing the things that generate leads.

But here are the brutal facts that you must confront if you want to see real change.

You must consistently take action and have systems in place to generate new leads every single month to grow your revenue to the next level.

#8 You’re Not Consistently Following Up with Your Prospects

I remember one of the first fitness business coaching clients I worked with back in the early days of NPE.

This guy would go to great lengths to put together a fitness workshop.

He’d get everyone in the room.

He’d deliver a great educational presentation.

And he’d have dozens of people fill out forms requesting more information from him on his services.

Then he would go home, stuff those papers in a drawer… AND DO NOTHING WITH THEM!

What the heck!!!?

Listen, when you’ve done the hard work to generate new leads… following up with them is the easy part!

For gosh sake, don’t drop the ball on the one yard line!

Run the ball into the end zone, spike it, and win the game!

There are many ways to follow up and nurture your prospects.

Sharing valuable content and relationship building are two of the most important.

And you can do this with all types of media.

Send an email, pick up the phone, and call someone, send out a text message, use social media, invite people to a live workshop, and more.

The opportunities are endless.

Communicate with your list and build relationships to move your prospects forward in the fitness marketing life cycle.

And be consistent every single month!

#9 You Haven’t Set (Nor Communicated) Clear Goals and Targets

You’re busy, you’re doing a lot of “stuff” working IN and on your business.

We get it.

And we see far too many business owners that wake up without a focus to their day, week and month.

As a result, they end up working in a reactive marketing mode and there’s no leadership for their team to grow.

There are two things you need for focused execution: a big dream and a clear goal/target.

This is especially important when it comes to your sales and marketing efforts, as the endless amount of activity in this area of your business can easily pull you off target.

Have a clear revenue goal for the month, know the number of sales needed to hit that target, and then have a qualified consultation goal from your marketing efforts that sets you up for success.

#10 You Aren’t Tracking Your Sales and Marketing Numbers and ROI

Without metrics and a “feedback loop” from your sales and marketing activity, you have no way of measuring the effectiveness of any of your marketing and lead generation efforts.

And that means you’re flying blind.

You have no idea where to invest (or stop investing) your marketing time and money to accelerate growth and scale revenue.

Without that critical information, you can’t make informed growth decisions.

You end up “going with your gut” which is kinda like a fitness client who’s trying to lose weight and gain muscle “eating whatever they feel like eating today.”

Your gut isn’t always the best decision maker.

It’s essential you track your marketing metrics at every stage of the fitness marketing life cycle and your ROI
 to make better business growth decisions.

How Do You Score?

Let’s review…

We’ve talked about several keys to scaling revenue in this article, and how the foundation for your success involves:

  1. A BIG dream, growth mindset, and focused commitment
  1. Love and commitment to serve the people you work with everyday
  1. Continued development of your sales & marketing skill sets

How do you rank in each of these areas?

Where can you improve?

If you’re ready to grow beyond the 5k/month mark and into the 25k+/month club… then start with reconnecting with your dream and commitment to love and serve the people you work with everyday.

And when you’ve got those right, then it’s time to move into marketing and sales skill development.

Start fixing your skill sets in order of top to bottom shared in this article.

Don’t get stuck.

And don’t lose hope that you can continue growing.

Growing your sales and marketing skill sets with scale your revenue quickly… and they’ll in turn fund the investments required in working on all the other parts of growing your business (which will mainly include people and systems).

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