Nathan Louey, Owner of >EFM Health Club Hawthorne East shares some of his experiences setting up his business. He states cash flow nightmares as a start up challenge. Now he is focusing on creating successful and loyal members.
If you don’t know much about EFM Health Clubs, Nathan has created an awesome website that explains it really simply and clearly. You easily see it’s about personalised attention, no long term contracts and fitness coaching. He has images of real members having a great time (albeit looking sweaty:)).
He also has a great Facebook page that gives you a sense of the community at his club and how engaged his members are. There are loads of great posts on his Facebook page and I had to stop myself from sharing on the one of the very beautiful baby however here is an example of what I mean.
1. What made you want to get involved with EFM?
I was relatively new to the fitness industry having done personal training out of other people’s gyms when I heard about the EFM. Personal training can be a tough gig with regards to early starts, late finishes, lots of competition in the market, cancellations, clients get sick or injured (or you getting sick or injured) all of which has a significant impact on your ability to create a stable income for yourself. When I heard that I could own my own business/facility and continue to train clients on a membership basis (thus creating a stable revenue stream) I was sold!
2. What has been the most challenging part of starting the business?
Without a doubt the first few years were the hardest, and I imagine the same goes for most businesses. Cash flow can be a nightmare, and you have a lot of of overheads initially. For me, equipment repayments, insurance, fit out, even simple things like phone and internet hurt when you’re starting at zero members! Compound that with long hours, and no money to employ help and there’s plenty of opportunity for stress.
3. What has been the most rewarding part of being in the business?
A couple of years ago, the business had grown to the point where I was able to step back and employ more staff to take on more responsibility. It’s a cliche, but being able to work on the the business instead of just in it – has been a breath of fresh air. I also take a lot of pleasure and pride in being able to employ staff and see them progress their own careers. I still get to influence people’s health and fitness, but in a less direct way.
4. What are your business goals for the next 12 months?
To grow and maintain my membership base! At the end of the day, a base of happy and successful members that are loyal to your business is what I’m all about.
5. If you were giving advice to others thinking about doing a similar thing to you what would you tell them?
Get some basic business training. I knew to how to be a great trainer, but that isn’t always enough. When I started, I barely knew what PAYG and BAS even meant, and I think poor bookkeeping and a lack of financial knowledge can sink you. Learning on the go was an additional stress that I didn’t need, and looking back I definitely would have gotten my head around some business basics first.
6. Do you think there is too much competition in the personal training industry?
I’m not sure about that one. What I do know is more people than ever are in need of fitness services. You only have to look around you to see all the expanded waistlines! I think there is enough business to go around as long as you find your niche. I do believe high quality operators face too much competition from snake-oil sellers and dubious product marketeers winning people over with promises of quick fixes – the market is crowded in that respect and it’s a shame that legitimate health and fitness services offerings may be lost in the crowd because of them.
It seems to me that Nathan has moved his business from that cash flow nightmare in the start to the loyal and successful members he is after. You can tell by just looking at the images he is sharing and visiting his Facebook page. Can’t wait to see what you achieve in the future Nathan!
See also: Case Study: Why telling Mel Tempest she couldn’t dance or teach changed her life and Gym Refurbishment Wow’s Members