Recently in Affiliation Category

Spend time browsing the threads on the affiliate section of the CrossFit message board and you will quickly discover that many new affiliates sooner or later face the same dilemma: "Should I set up my own box or work out of an existing gym?" Neither option appears particularly attractive when starting out. Setting up your own box seems dauntingly expensive and sends waves of doubt through even the most hardened business mind. "What if no one turns up?" Likewise, working out of a gym is fraught with frustration when the realization sinks in that very few gyms will allow chalk, handstands on the wall, grunting, or dropping weights. So, although having your own box is the ultimate dream of most new affiliates, and renting space from a gym is an obvious stepping stone, in the beginning, neither option really appeals.

Well there is another option, and it's one that we at CrossFit Brisbane stumbled on by accident. It has proven to be the best of both worlds, providing the feel of our own box while minimizing our initial outlay. While we were in the midst of trying to resolve the "where should we set up shop" dilemma, one of our clients suggested that we talk to the local martial arts dojo, and from the moment we walked in, it was clear that we had found the ideal home for our start-up phase.

We've all heard the phrase, "Build it, and they will come." Maybe, but will they stick around? If you provide the environment, experience, and expertise, will they become your long-term trainees and your word-of- mouth marketers? Will they enable you to quit your other full-time job and do just this for a living? Will your business provide you the life (and income) that you want and deserve?

The answers to these big questions don't really have an answer; they only get answered in time by doing it. However, there is one question that does have an answer which has faced me on a daily basis for the past three years as a CrossFit affiliate business owner: What is the best way to structure my gym memberships to support both the development and growth of students and the development and growth of my business?

Until January 2007, I used the system that I think most of the other affiliates currently use: $x for a drop-in, $x for a package of 10 to 20 classes, and $x for unlimited monthly classes. This system wasn't attached to a commitment, or any expiration date, or any real membership structure. And it worked, for the right people--those who were committed, dedicated, disciplined, and really "got it." The responsibility for coming to our classes was entirely on them. If they showed up, they got results, and if they didn't, no problem. It's not like they had a membership, commitment, or contract. If they didn't want to come back, no big deal; just don't. Nothing lost.

It happens to every affiliate after a while: they run out of square footage. It's actually quite a good problem. It means your client base is growing. However, trying to find a suitable new box to call home does present its own set of challenges. I can speak from experience, having recently gone through this very process with CrossFit Virginia Beach (CFVB).

CrossFit Virginia Beach was started in May of 2007 in my two-car garage. The endeavor was more casual than anything else. My girlfriend, Thomi, and I had attended several seminars over the course of the past year. At each seminar we would receive the usual battery of questions relating to starting an affiliate in Virginia Beach. One trainer from CrossFit headquarters whom we love to death, Dave Castro, is unmatched in the arena of peer pressure. He would relentlessly hound us each time. "When are you going to affiliate? What the hell is taking so long out there in VB? Open a gym already, would ya?" Hindsight being 20/20, we owe him a debt of gratitude. He stayed on us until one day we said, "Why not?"


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