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Growing a business: what you need to know
These growth tips are from over a decade of experience at exec level in the fitness industry. Here are some great examples of advice from Martin Seibold, CEO of LifeFit Group, about growing a business in fitness.
How can you look after your teams and taking an interest in what they're doing? What speed you should scale a business? What's the best way look after your members? This is how to plan for success in the long term.
Pay attention to your business now, not just its future.
When times look good, they are never as good as they shine. When they are bad, they're not as bad as they look. And I think we had the same situation right now. I joined the business in 1998. It was a tremendous growth story. It was on the stock exchange, there was a lot of money around, and everything was focused on expansion.
I think that was the big mistake at that stage that we never really looked at the existing business. If you don't look after your existing members and you don't look after your staff and your teams, you might have five or 10 years, but in the long term, you will not be successful.
Fitness First has been on a more humble road with more focus on the members and the teams' activity.
Keep your business flexible.
Time will tell when companies move so fast, you know; if it's the right angle. So what we've done with the business nowadays here is that we have set it up as a multi brand company. We formed LifeFit Group and we have added other brands to our facilities.
We have Fitness First in Germany, with around 60 gyms. We have about 20 gyms in a low cost segment and expanding fast, and we have Barry's Boot Camp opening up as the boutique offering with a slow ramp up, really focussing on quality. So we really start to differentiate and to diversify, and I believe this is something which is happening in the industry that the consumer has changed with all these offerings and all these new initiatives.
When you are focused on one model only, then you struggle over a 20 year lease to maybe have just one offering, so we have started to convert some of the Fitness First now into the smile X brand. We're looking even in one of the smaller Fitness Firsts to put the Barry's in.
So it gives you more flexibility. That's why we believe something like this is potentially the right future to really focus on. What does the customer in that location really want?
Give your teams a purpose.
What what really works well is having different teams, working on the individual activities. If I were to do it again, I would have a team that supports clubs that were open longer than a year ago. And then you have clubs who are open longer than, maybe, three years ago. And then you obviously have a pre-opening team.
I think because the nature of the business and and who the customer is in those sites changes. That's the big learning: you need specific teams for certain areas. You can't have someone who's doing pre-opening and trying to fill up the gym, at the same time looking at a gym that has been open for three or five years, needing to maintain the membership level. It's just two different skill sets. One is a hunter, and the other one is a farmer.
Learn how to be a leader.
You learn to how to be a leader in your private life. And when I look back at my childhood, you know, I have I've never been the most popular kid in the class, you know, but I've always been given responsibility.
I was one of the head boys in the school. I was with the scouts. I then developed into a person who was in a team. I was actually, despite only being 5ft 9in, a decent basketball player. I'm not very good in individual sport and better as a team player.
When I when I look at all the things I've learned and throughout my private life, you apply those those learnings in a job. I've had 21 positions in those 20 years at Fitness First and now LifeFit Group.
What I always find is that I just wake up and I'm interested in almost everything! I'm interested at one moment in how you take a shower head apart and, at the same time, I'm interested to see how the sales numbers are working, or how you are doing on sales calls.
When you have an interest in what your teams are doing, you find out if they can they do their job. I've surrounded myself with people who are much better at the end task than I've ever been. But I could judge my team around me, you know? I could get them, by asking good questions, to achieve their maximum and their potential. And I think as a leader, it's important that you show interest in what your teams are doing.
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