The word “community” gets thrown around a lot in the group fitness/boutique gym world, which makes sense; building a community around shared goals and values is incredibly powerful.
That being said, community isn’t everything, which is ironically a common response when we made a post on Instagram that said, “A clean gym with a professional staff is better for business than having the best “community” in town.
You could say a few people were… miffed when they read that, and understandably so, there are literally thousands of fitness and fitness adjacent businesses built entirely upon community.
Here’s the problem: community can’t carry the business, period.
Does that mean you must choose between having a professional staff and a clean facility or building a great community?
This isn’t a comparison between the two; it’s a declaration of the order of operations.
Remember back in elementary school when you were learning math and found out that if you didn’t solve the problem in a certain order, you’d end up with the wrong answer?
The same principle applies here.
Having a solid community of clients in your facility is 100% a win, but making the community the end rather than the means is like putting a roof on the house before the foundation is poured and the walls are up.
The foundation and the walls are what most people think of as “the little things.”
Coaches being on time
Coaches looking and smelling the part
Keeping promises to clients
Having a spotless bathroom
Prepped workout spaces for classes/one one-on-one sessions
Taking responsibility for mistakes and giving credit for success
Clients shouldn’t have to “look past” those things in order to enjoy the community; if they do, the likelihood that they’ll stick around or bring their friends is slim to none.
Clients have certain expectations when they sacrifice time and money to be in a gym, many of which are completely outside of their awareness. However, when those expectations are violated, they know, and it’s repulsive.
The little things aren’t optional or “nice to have”; they’re indispensable.