This blog is supposed to be for our members and what not, but I’ve lately been giving out a little advice to the industry and moreover, I hope, a little well-founded sunshine.
I want to tell you what we’re doing and why I’m pretty psyched about the closure.
About a year ago, someone with a lot of money showed up and told us we were good at what we did and he wanted to invest as much money as it took for us to stop struggling and bootstrapping and make it go. Unfortunately, thanks to Coronavirus, that’s on hold. But it was still a gift. When you meet someone like that, who inspires you to think differently and prepare for something else, it levels you up. And I want to pay it forward.
Opening the new SLO location has been a big learning process for us. We went from trying to run it like a family full of trust and hope to being “professional.” We had to turn professional because we had a lot of debt to pay off and a huge operational budget that was at least twice what it was when we were a nonprofit with two locations. We had shareholders.
The potential investor basically told us we needed to scale. And I didn’t know what that meant entirely so I started to work on it.
Scaling means getting out of the “I do it myself” mindset and figuring out that you can build a team of people you love who do it with you. AND, as you grow larger, the cost of that team diminishes because you have less people employed individually and more people at higher points in their career making fewer mistakes and more awesome stuff in less time.
It’s a hard process to go through. You won’t get it right if you don’t have guidance, but you will likely come out of it better than you started. You might lose some friends who were like family who are not interested in “professionalizing” – and that sucks, but it also doesn’t suck for the people you serve and those on the team who are up for the challenge.
That’s why we acquired our first gym instead of building from the ground up. Our overhead AND their overhead went down while we also added a whole bunch of new people to the team that are elevating us every day.
If you’re wondering how to make it now and when you open with a debt load – consider scaling. This can be talking to existing gyms and merging to share resources, talking to people like us who can take on the management of your day to day operations for less than you think, etc. Be open minded about solutions. Wouldn’t it be great to have a financial team that handles it all for you – a marketing team that rolls out all the things you could ever wish for, etc?
Not every body is in the same boat. Open your sphere of influence and talk to people. Really talk to them. Look into opportunities. There are people out there with a lot of money looking to do something with it so that when the recession and pandemic passes, they’re back to making money faster.
Climbing gyms are great anchors to a developer’s community. If it’s time to get bigger (new location or just a bigger location), read your business magazines and papers and find out who is building or revitalizing a new development. A tenant that’s there for 10+ years and can’t easily move out is a pretty easy sale if you’re already in operations and can show you know what you’re talking about.
Dream big. Developers have the money that you may not have. They may invest in you, they may build the whole thing out and provide the financing you need – if you build good contracts into it, it’s a win-win.