How Factory Forged is Seeing Clearly with Zen Planner’s Benchmark Report

Benchmark Report

Do you ever feel like you just can’t see clearly?

Often that is a detriment for whatever you’re doing, from driving to reading a book. While you can solve the problem with a map on a road trip or a pair of glasses for reading, it can be hard to decide what to use if the problem is seeing clearly in your business.

It seems there is a solution: When it comes to business, you need a report. Chris Thorndike, the president of Factory Forged in Sartell, Minnesota, said one way they are propelling their business forward is through Zen Planner’s 2017 Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report. “The benchmark report reveals an ideal model taking shape in the market that can give a gym owner specific goals going into their next quarterly or yearly planning meetings. Use this report to establish growth goals if you want to go from small to medium and medium to large gym operations.”

Having partner with Zen Planner for about five years, Thorndike said the company is continually growing and evolving to create the best management system possible. And with a Benchmark Report jam-packed with helpful data, he said Zen Planner has made it easy to know how to move forward in excellence.

Below, he shares why he likes working with Zen Planner and how Factory Forged has benefited from their Benchmark Report:

BP: Why do you partner with Zen Planner?

CT: There are a lot of options in the software space for member management. Each one having their own specialty and unique features. Some focus on lead generation, workout results, etc., but I believe Zen Planner is the best option for the gym owner because it focuses on making business management more efficient. In the long term this is what gym owners need to make accurate and quick decisions about their business growth. They made a few key changes a few years back that reassured me they are the company to be with. This change was implementing a partnership team to work with and listen to several of the leading consulting companies in the market. These groups had the experience and pulse on what the owners needed most and can help the Zen Planner development team focus their efforts.

BP: What is beneficial about its annual Benchmark Report?

CT: The benefits are in the detail of the metrics. It’s black and white feedback that measures your results against your peers. It can be eye-opening to know you’re behind the curve or give you confidence to know you’re leading the industry with your management decisions. The data can help in a number of ways; most importantly to owners is revenues and expenses. Gyms need cash to grow, so if you want to grow but don’t charge enough to reach your goals, this report will help you see clearly what needs to change. I also think understanding the expenses that go into running the best facilities is very helpful. Seeing this information can help save thousands if you’re thinking about discounting memberships to grow, moving to a larger gym space, adding team members. All of these metrics play a role in the net growth of the business.

BP: What is your biggest takeaway from the report this year?

CT: This year my research has me focused on churn in membership. I think this is the key number to watch for maturing business owners. More and more gyms are learning how to attract people to their gyms, but net growth is a key metric for determining whether the members see the value in continuing to stay. In the gym business autopay is king, so the medium to large gyms will need to pay close attention to this number as they explore the best methods for keeping long term happy and paying members.

BP: What is one thing you are going to do in your gym because of this report?

CT: An important focus for me will be ensuring gyms continue to stay lean, meaning ensure they are maximizing their space and charging competitive membership rates. With the average class size at 14 for large Boxes — those with 201-plus members — many gyms are taking on too large of facilities and it strains the cash of the business, in addition to the added stress it puts on the owner. Keeping rent low and classes full will ensure profits are met and personal lifestyles are more enjoyable.

BP: Why should other Affiliates consider reading/using the report?

CT: If you’re unaware of the market trends, you’re already behind the best practices happening. Zen Planner has made it incredibly easy for us to gain the knowledge we need to make better decisions about moving forward. Without it, you’re out of touch from top performers and what they’re doing differently to excell.


To view the 2017 Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report, click here.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at