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Running a CrossFit Facility Tips and guidance on how to open and operate a CrossFit gym.

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Old 02-22-2014, 07:34 AM   #1
Eric Jaber
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Has the Game Changed?

When CF began its meteoric rise over the past few years, it was possible to start a garage affiliate and build it from the ground up. HOWEVER, with the increased competition and larger more equipped box's popping up, how feasible is it to start your business small? Can a small box grow in this ever increasing competitive climate? Should aspiring affiliate owners look to start BIG or small?
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:59 AM   #2
Adam Morden
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

I think it still really depends on your location and your aspirations for your affiliate.

IE as far as location goes if you are in a small town (less than 300K people) and it has say 5+ CF affiliates already that might be a hard go. On the other hand if you were in a town where there are no CF affiliates within a 30 min drive but there are at least say 80K people and it is relatively affluent you could start super small and grow fast (or start big). Lots of the big cities could handle a lot more affiliates as well - driving time and convenience will be major factors there (ie if it takes 30 min to go 5 miles in crappy traffic or most people commute via bus or walking, if you can find an area without an affiliate within a say 5mile radius it could still be very successful and competition would not be be a huge factor.

As far as what your aspirations are: If you want to run a fun box as a side income that is totally possible in really any location regardless of the competition, all you need are a few dozen members and your garage and you'll have buddies to work out with and make a bit of extra cash. If you want to create a large business with employees, benefits, full time quality salary, etc then you will have to really plan out your move. the start up costs of an affiliate (even a big one) are still super low as far as business start up costs go.

Also CF has just started blowing up and is still far from it's apex in my opinion. Think about TKD schools in the 80's (I guess that means I'm old LOL) there got to be one on every bloody street corner. CF has the potential to be even bigger (but then it could decline as well).
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:24 AM   #3
Corey Coleman
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

While the game maybe changing, just as it does in every market as it goes through a normal life cycle and maturation, the basic "rules" for running a successful business/start-up of any kind are the same. Only spend what you can afford, and ensure you keep enough operating funds (cash) on hand. A major problem with all types of start-ups is under-estimation of expenses and underfunding in the early stages. It is very difficult to go to a possible investor after you have depleted all of your own capital and get more. No one wants to jump on a sinking ship. I won't try to give real numbers, because EVERYONES situation is different, but the guidelines stand true... you can't pay for people and things if you run out of cash, and if you run out of cash, you may find obtaining more impossible. The way it was originally explained to me was... Don't count your chicks before they hatch, and make sure you can feed them once they do. If this means starting in a garage because that's the only way you can get in the game and still have money left for proper training and equipment, then so be it. Do what you can with it. If you can buy a huge building and support a giant membership off the bat, then that is great too, but certainly not the only option.
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:25 AM   #4
Joshua J Grenell
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

I have noticed this trend as well. We started with $4k in investment and built to where we are now. I see most quickly successful gyms now starting with about a $40k investment.

I would agree with the Adam above me in his assessment of local competition having a large impact. If there is a large established gym in the area, it is going to be really hard to compete with them.

If someone doesn't know you, or know someone in your gym, they are going to go to the gym closest to them, or in the midwest it seems that if they have not CrossFitted before they will go to the cheapest gym.

JG

Last edited by Joshua J Grenell : 02-22-2014 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:34 PM   #5
Brian Strump
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

I mostly agree with Adam. It also depends on what you're looking to get out of it, financially.

If you're looking to take home $3-5k/mon than I think you can make it anywhere. In that even if the competition is great, just based on numbers and controlling your spending; you can make it work.

I think coming into a competitive market, I think it's difficult to compete. Not just with the larger, more equipped affiliates, but also a company that has been in the community(not CF, community, public view) for many years longer.

I see many but everything they've got into an affiliates $40k+, and that's a hard number to finally get in the black in a business where many that get started are not prepared to actually run a business well.
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:29 PM   #6
Aushion Chatman
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

Nothing as changed about how to take care of people and foster relationships. I'd say it is the same. A multi million dollar gym can suck just as bad as a garage gym in CrossFit.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:01 PM   #7
Will Hurst
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

As any industry begins to get saturated in order to move into a competitive market you need to have a niche to be the best. Whether it be size, equipment, big name athletes, big name coaches, etc. if your goal is just to make a modest living or run a side business I still think it's possible in any region, no matter how saturated. As long as you have a high standard for excellence Finding 100 people to show up and pay you to train is not a tall order even in a saturated small town.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:28 PM   #8
Michael Stoll
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

We opened in San Diego, a highly "saturated" CrossFit market as far as boxes go, about 9 months ago. We have about 65 members and are already profitable (we actually were at the five month mark). About 75% of our members came to our box because of our location; they stayed because of the community we've built, the coaching we've provided, and the results they've seen.

Community, coaching and results will drive your success or failure. Start in a garage with $5K, start in a retail space with $75K, it won't really matter unless you provide that type of value to your clients - and understand the points that others have made on this thread about how to manage your finances and expectations.

I put "saturated" in quotes because I honestly believe that there is room for at least 100 more CrossFit boxes in San Diego. I could care less if three of them opened up across the street; that's more exposure for all of us. Keep in mind that you are NOT in competition with other CrossFit boxes (assuming you provide community, coaching and results); your competition is the globo gyms, and once people discover CrossFit, they rarely go back to the globos.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:36 PM   #9
Roger Harrell
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

Garage gyms with great coaches will have the same impact that they had 5 years ago. Well funded CF facilities with the amenities will have a perceived bump for new clients, but if you take great care of people they will talk, you will grow. A well funded facility with all the tools and great coaches will be a strong draw though. Is it tougher now? I really don't know. The awareness of CrossFit is so much greater that you're not doing all of the marketing just to tell people what CrossFit is anymore. It is just a bit different.
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:10 PM   #10
David Osorio
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Re: Has the Game Changed?

This is a really interesting question and something I've thought a lot about myself. I appreciate the conversation, especially Roger's comment. When I started in 2007 I was one of two affiliates in all of New York City so if anyone was interested in getting CrossFit coaching, my classes being held outside in the park were one of their only viable options. Today, there are 4 wall gyms available all over the city. I would think starting out small is more challenging these days because you'd have to strongly leverage your ability to coach in order to build a following, but it's possible.

For the first few months of being in operation my TOTAL investment was about $150. An optimistic me hopes that's still possible for the people who need or want to start small.
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