(Last Updated On: July 20, 2021)

If you’ve ever watched “Shark Tank” (and which business owner out there hasn’t?) you’ve heard the term “Scaling a Business”.

Learning how to “scale” their business is one of the most common reasons gym owners come to us for help. 

There’s a HUGE misconception of what scaling actually is and what it isn’t, though and that’s what makes it seem so confusing. 

Allow me to demonstrate with this picture of everyone’s favorite green superhero.

The Scaling Triad

Here, The Incredible Hulk has demonstrated for us the difference between growth and scaling. 

As evidenced by his torn and several sizes too small shirt, the Hulk has experienced Growth. 

But as also evidenced by the same shirt, he was not prepared for this growth and thus did not effectively Scale.

Think of his shirt as your business. Because he was not prepared for his growth, his shirt is now torn to shreds.

Just like your business will be if you grow without scaling correctly. 

There are many ways this can show up in your gym, but it feels like an enraging 1-step forward & 2-steps back waltz. 

Every time you think you’re on the right track, something falls apart just like Hulk’s shirt. (By the way, I’m not going to be the one to tell Mr. Hulk he’s not scaling effectively. You can if you want.)

The confusion comes because growth is easy to see and measure:

  • More revenue
  • More clients
  • More staff
  • More Leads

But if you’re aren’t prepared to scale correctly…

  • More revenue…but more expenses means the same or even a lower profit margin for more work and stress
  • More clients…but your retention rate suffers due to worsening customer service
  • More staff…but they aren’t doing the job well enough
  • More leads…but you can’t keep track of them and are letting too many fall through the cracks

In this post, I want to show you the 3 most common mistakes we’ve seen from gym owners who are experiencing this frustrating problem, and how to get ready to scale the right way.


1. You hire people…and they can’t or won’t do the job.


Why is this happening to you?

Your hiring and/or training process isn’t working.

Or more likely, you don’t even have a real process. That means instead of using a defined process, you’re just kind of throwing darts at a spinning dartboard. Maybe you’ll get lucky?


How to fix the problem.


1. Create a detailed job description for the position you are looking to fill.

If you’re looking for a trainer, are you also expecting them to:

  • Do sales?
  • Write programming?
  • Take out the trash?
  • Anything else?
  • What hours are they expected to work?
  • Do you need someone with experience?

Write it ALL down, and keep in mind the things that are the most important.

While you may not find anyone who checks every single box, you’ll get a lot closer if you are intentional and clear about what you’re looking for.


2. Have a detailed training system ready to implement.


Even if you hire the perfect person, they still need to learn how you want things done.

Look at the job description you wrote down earlier and come up with a detailed training plan to address everything on it, starting with the most important tasks. 

Some things may take weeks to complete (teaching an inexperienced trainer to run a semi-private session with multiple clients, for example), or it may take 30 seconds (showing them where to take the trash at the end of the night). The important thing is to show them every single thing you want them to do and how you want it done.

This is key in demonstrating the standards and values you want in your business. Great work and high standards are not an accident. They start right here. 

Lastly, realize this:

If you want someone to do the job and they can’t or won’t:




If they don’t have the ability…

YOU made a mistake hiring them, did a poor job training them, or both.

If they don’t have the willingness…

YOU made a mistake hiring them, or let them get away with it.

If you find yourself in this position, you need to have a hard conversation or wind up looking like Hulk’s shirt.


2. You’re getting more leads…but many are falling through the cracks or aren’t signing up.


Why is this happening to you?


You haven’t developed an effective lead follow-up system, or you haven’t learned a good sales approach for you or your team to follow.

“More leads” might sound great…but think it through. Can you actually handle more leads and everything that comes with it?

Do you:

  • Know how you’re going to give your leads the 5-7 touches it takes on average to get them in your door for a sales conversation?
  • Know who is going to be having those conversations?
  • Have confidence that whoever is having them can do it?

How to fix the problem.


1. Plan out your touches


As I said above, it takes an average of 5-7 touches to get a lead into your door for an initial sales conversation. While some of that can be automated, the bulk of it shouldn’t be. 

We are seeing at least a 33% better response rate for our clients that are actually reaching out to their leads using one of these things…


The Scaling Triad

You can use this to talk to people IRL!!


It is imperative that you systematize how those contacts will be made and who will make them. If you don’t, you WILL lose some and you might as well just light some cash on fire if you do that.


2. Make sure you have an effective framework for your


This is especially true if you’re someone who tells themselves how much you hate to sell.

Your job in a sales conversation is to express how you can help the person in front of you feel great and live a better life.

You’re not trying to sell them a beat-up 1986 Buick LeSabre with a bad transmission.


The Scaling Triad

That’s OK if you don’t want it. I have a little old lady from Pasadena coming down to see it later today.


2. You’re getting more clients…but retention is suffering.


Why is this happening to you?

While losing clients is always going to happen to some extent for reasons both in and out of your control, if this usually happens whenever you seem to get a steady influx of new ones…well…let me put this as gently as I can…


Your gym is starting to suck.


The Scaling Triad

I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell you.


On the surface, it always looks good to have more clients…but:

  • Do you have room in your sessions for them?
  • Can your staff handle more clients?
  • Is the quality of your coaching slipping?
  • Do you have enough equipment and physical space in your gym?


How to fix the problem.


Take a good look at your:

  • Capacity
  • Coach’s abilities
  • Physical space
  • Equipment 
  • Schedule availability


Be honest with yourself about what you and your staff can handle while maintaining the standards and values that matter to you and your business. 

According to Forbes it can cost 5x more to get a new client than keep one. If you do your best to keep the ones you have happy, the rest will take care of itself. 


To Wrap This Up…

I want you to notice a very important thing that weaves its way through everything here:

All of these very common problems occur because the business owner hasn’t looked forward effectively to spot potential problems and changes that may result from their efforts to grow their business. 

Every business is a complex organism in which everything affects everything else. If you want to scale your business effectively, you have to be able to see potential pitfalls and react accordingly.

Justin Hanover
Success Coach, Fitness Revolution


P.S. Sorry if I implied that looking forward is easy. It’s actually really freaking hard and it takes a lot of experience to do it well. 

Sometimes it’s really hard to see the “forest through the trees” for even the most experienced gym owner.

Getting the perspective of someone who’s a little more detached can go a long way to help you see the real truth (even though it may be scary sometimes).

The Scaling Triad

Hello! I’m the Truth…I’m also Yorick


Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to find out where your business really stands. 



Author: Kelly Berry

Kelly Berry is a strategic business leader and business coach known for her operational excellence, ability to drive growth and results across multiple industries. Kelly is the VP of Operations for Fitness Revolution. She is also a podcaster and host of her Life Intended podcast.

A hand drawing an arrow with a businessman on it.


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