“Strategic Thoughts For Now and The Future”

by Mike Epstein, GGFA President

Mike Epstein ConventionHappy New Year and Welcome to 2014!

As I take a quick look back at 2013, I realize just how quickly it went by. It seems like just yesterday we were all talking about the infamous Year 2000 and that was well over a decade ago! Time indeed flies and it’s no different in the fitness industry, where things move rapidly and we are challenged to reinvent ourselves and evolve and adapt our businesses more than ever before.

A year ago I wrote something to you entitled “A View From Three Perspectives” where I talked about my thoughts from three of the different hats I wear as a proud member of the Gold’s Gym Family. In that paper I began a discussion about market positioning, differentiation and “Owning The Middle” as it relates to many of our gyms in todays highly competitive landscape.

That conversation continued right into our Annual Owners’ Conference, where “Owning The Middle was a major theme and was brought to life through our presentations and especially by our keynote speaker and author of The Strategist, Cynthia Montgomery.

Introducing….The GGFA Strategy Wheel

As a direct result of Cynthia’s talk, your input and feedback as well as discussions amongst your GGFA Board of Directors, the GGFA promised and is now delivering a very important tool for you to use to help guide the strategy for your gym. We are pleased and proud to introduce for your use our first version of new The GGFA Strategy Wheel.

For those of you who have read The Strategist and/or attended our Owner’s Conference, you will already have some familiarity with the strategy wheel and what it is. For those who have not, we will be hosting GGFA Regional Workshops and webinars to help you best understand, utilize and customize this very powerful new tool.

The Strategy Wheel essentially puts your gyms purpose (why you exist) at the hub and surrounds it with everything you do (how you deliver) to create value to support that purpose. The strategy wheel creates a picture of how you will win!

The first version of our new GGFA Strategy Wheel has been completed and will be launched via a special GGFA webinar for GGFA franchisee members. Please watch your GGFA communications for information coming to you soon about the launch. The GGFA is very excited to bring this new tool to the Gold’s Gym Family. I want to personally thank our “Strategy Wheel” Committee (Blair McHaney, Gordon Johnson, Ginger Collins and myself) for the many discussions, revisions and effort in helping put this together for all of us to use. A special thanks goes out to Blair, who was the driving force in taking all of the feedback and helping us create something amazing.  I would also like to thank Cynthia Montgomery for her inspiration and thought provoking conversations with our committee that helped shape this special project.

Strategic Thoughts for Now

It continues to be more competitive than ever and while the economy is showing some signs of life again, credit markets continue to be tight and we are all faced with a variety of challenges in our markets.

In addition to using a powerful tool like the Strategy Wheel for your business, there are several other thoughts I would like to share with you, that while obvious, need to be considered by all franchisees.

bottom lineAdd to Your Bottom Line NOW

Throughout the year and specifically as an exercise to perform at the end of the year or beginning of the New Year, it’s a great time to add Expense Management to your list of things to do. Take a look at every single line item on the expense side of your P&L and attack each one with the following two questions: Why is this here? How can I save on this item (without sacrificing the quality I may need)?

Now take a look at the Revenue side of your P&L. What is bringing you the most income and what can you do to increase it? Where can you find new revenue streams or enhance existing ones to help add to your bottom line.

While all of this sounds like common sense, it can be a painful process to go through but is well worth the effort.

Strategic Thoughts for The Future

I have spoken and written about this in the past, but I continue to believe that one of our main differentiators of being a member in the Gold’s Gym Family is that we have each other. We are a tight group of franchisees, we have a dedicated and caring Franchisee Association and we have a great working relationship with our franchisor. We need to take everything we do to the next level.

Sharing information is what The GGFA is all about and we need to continue to find ways to share what everyone is doing right as well as what lessons we learn when we do things wrong. Tapping into this amazing knowledge base and finding new and improved ways to share will help all of us in the future. We have some great vehicles available now through the GGFA and we need to continue to evolve them and create new ones. Our franchisor is growing at a healthy rate and that is a good thing for our brand in many ways so we need to find more ways to include them in the conversation as we can all learn from each other.

The GGFA Critical Numbers Survey

Another important project that was a direct result of this year’s Owners’ Conference was our GGFA Critical Numbers and Benchmarking Survey. This is a major research project for The GGFA and is the first of its kind. Our goal is to be able to use this important data to identify trends, outliers and benchmarks and use that data to further develop strategies to help all franchisees better understand how to win in their markets. All data is confidential and will be de-indentified.

How We Buy Things

We also need to revisit and revitalize the way we purchase things as there is no better way to save money than to leverage our full purchasing power as a group. This has been a painful process to try to launch in the past, but nothing is easy so we need to roll up our sleeves and find out what is the best way for all of our franchisees and the corporate gyms to buy together and what is the best program for our brand to make that happen. I have not given up on that thought process and neither has your GGFA.

The Future of Legacy 2

As I enter into my final term as GGFA President, I remain dedicated to having The GGFA and GGI/TRT work together to create a win-win business proposition for all of the current Legacy 2 franchisees. With the Legacy 2 development deadline date of 12/31/15 only 2 short years away, now is the time for us to work together to develop a program that continues to bring value to all stakeholders and encourages the continued growth of the existing franchisee base.

To accomplish this goal, The GGFA has created a Legacy 2 Committee consisting of key GGFA and franchisee leaders, many who have helped build the brand and have been involved in the Legacy 2 process from the beginning. Those committee members are: myself, Ginger Collins, Blair McHaney, Gordon Johnson, Barry Field, John Custard, Jerry McCall, Angel and Willy Banos, John Burriss, Jeremy Lowell, Bruce Ebel and Leo Gutierrez. In addition, we will be reaching out to many other franchisees throughout this process.

We will be working closely with GGI/TRT, specifically Aaron Watkins and Tim Hicks and they welcome the opportunity to work with us. Our franchisor is a partner in this process and would like to see the existing franchisee base grow both now and in the future so I am remain very optimistic about coming up with something “that works for everyone” after 12/31/15.

Our Unique Brand

There remains nothing like the Gold’s Gym brand in our industry and there is certainly nothing that can be compared to the passion, dedication and caring of a Gold’s Gym Franchisee. We have a growing franchisor that works closely with us and a Franchisee Association that is a well respected leader and trailblazer in our industry. There are challenges ahead as there always are. We have a lot going for us and by working together we can continue to make owning and operating a Gold’s Gym franchise the best it can be while taking our brand to the next level and helping to change more lives and do more for our communities than ever before.

Let’s do it.

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About GGFA

The Gold's Gym Franchisee Association is the independent voice of the Gold's Gym franchisees.
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