Making room for a pro shop might not be the first thing on your mind. However, have you ever wondered if you did make space for one, could it benefit your Box?
“The pro shops are definitely a big part of our gyms,” said Jaime Loera, the director of marketing, branding and apparel for NorCal CrossFit and Khalipa, Inc.
Two NorCal Boxes currently have pro shops, located in San Jose and Santa Clara, California. Each offers a variety of items: from coconut water to wrist wraps to supplements. But each sells mostly apparel, namely t-shirts. Still, the benefit of having a pro shop was clear. “The pro shops are huge because it allows members to come in and just pick up any kind of accessories they need for that day,” said Loera. “It makes it really convenient for the member, and that’s the biggest thing — just the convenience thing so that if they want it at the moment or need it at the moment, they’re able to pick it up. And I think that’s a big selling factor for when new members are coming in.”
Ben Isabella, the owner of CrossFit Sayreville in Sayreville, New Jersey, has taken advantage of a pro shop as well, but in a different form: an online Affiliate program. The benefit of going virtual? He is tapping into a market that would otherwise be inaccessible. “In my Box, I might only have 60 to 70 members a day,” he said. “Online, it’s limitless, depending on how much you’re actually pushing it.”
For about two years, banner ads have been scattered about CrossFit Sayreville’s website. With each click or code used, depending on the company, Isabella makes a certain percentage back. “When you’re at home and looking at the website, it’s [easier] to pull the trigger online than at a Box when you’re maybe not even worried about it,” said Isabella. “You want to go in for your workout. You’re not looking to shop around.”
In terms of deciding what goes into a pro shop, Loera said the Coaches choose the accessories and items sold. “The main products that go in the shop are typically things we use on a daily basis,” he said. “So anything we like personally. There’s nothing in the pro shop that we wouldn’t use or we wouldn’t buy ourselves.”
Loera said NorCal stands for top-quality coaching and product. When it comes to its pro shops, this belief doesn’t change. “We’re not going to sell bad product, because that’s going to reflect on who we are,” said Loera.
Isabella also believes in stocking his virtual shelves with products he uses and can vouch for. “I only put up banners to companies that I either work with or believe in,” he said. “What’s on your site is a representation of you. So if you have products that don’t represent what you want out of your business, then it’s not going to work well.”
Quality is not the only characteristic that is important to NorCal’s pro shops: so is accessibility. With the number of items the pro shops offer, Loera said people want to take time to browse instead of being rushed in their shopping. “You can’t have a Coach selling your shirts in-between classes, because one, that’s going to mess up the quality of your coaching, but also people like to shop,” he said. “People don’t want to be rushed into buying something.
“The biggest point was putting somebody in the shop at all times,” Loera continued. “That was when we kind of started seeing the revenues pick up on the shops.”
Accessibility also plays a role in Isabella’s online Affiliate program, just in a different manner. He said a good website and strategic placing of the banners will help boost traffic on the ads, making it easier for customers to navigate and find what they are looking for.
And he made sure to note in the virtual world of Affiliate programs, there is still plenty of room. “It’s definitely a market that not enough people are making the most of, but if they do a little bit of research, they’ll be able to get some supplemental income, and obviously that helps out.”
In the end, pro shops are still all about the customer. “The biggest thing is just keep it simple, and don’t overwhelm yourself with too much different variety,” said Loera. ”It’s all about the community and seeing what the community wants, and giving them what they want.”