Three Commonalities of Success


What motivated you to open your own Box? It’s safe to assume you were passionate about your industry and inspired to change your community. However, passion is just one component of running a leading Box. To ensure you can pursue this passion for years to come, it’s vital your business is financially sound. But how do you know if your Box is leading the industry or just coasting along? You need to know what other Boxes are doing and how you stack up.

In a survey of almost 400 Box owners from around the world, these are the three commonalities shared by financially profitable Boxes:

Large Member Base

It might seem obvious, but Boxes with large member bases can afford to do so much more. The median number of members at financially successful Boxes is 189 compared to 61 at struggling Boxes. Every Box owner, regardless of size, needs to understand the breakeven number of memberships for their business. This includes the number of members needed to pay rent, staff, utilities, taxes and other costs each month. This can’t be based on estimates either. Make sure you know the actuals with any discounts accounted for.

Building a strong member base takes a combination of great marketing to bring prospective members through your doors, a welcoming introductory experience to turn these prospects into paying members and consistent retention efforts to keep your members loyal for the long run.

Exceptional Utilization of Box Space

Leading Boxes make great use of their spaces, with a median of 26 square feet per member compared to 49 square feet per member for struggling Boxes. We know a brand-new business is not going to fill its classes immediately. But for any business, space to member ratio is a critical indicator of the health of your gym. You must also take into consideration larger spaces cost more to rent, heat and maintain, and that you will not have all of your members in every class.

To retain your members, you must provide an exceptional experience, so avoid packing members into classes like sardines. Instead, aim to fill your classes, and when you approach capacity, add more classes at new times. Even if you’re growing, look for opportunities to add more classes or get creative with your current space before making the leap to a larger one.

Properly Manage Personnel Costs

For many Box owners, the cost of Coaches is their single largest expense. Properly managing your personnel resources is critical to the success of your Box. On average, leading Boxes spend 30 percent of their income on personnel; keep this in mind when budgeting for your Coaches.

Staffing needs and those associated costs are by far the most emotionally driven expenses you will encounter in your business. You want to retain the right people and to do so, you need to pay them well. Try to steer clear of coaching trades for a discounted or free membership. While this can get you more Coaches at the times you need, it may not yield the quality and consistency you need to differentiate your programming. 

Running a financially stable business needs to be a priority for all Box owners. To get started, take steps to obtain more members and have a strategy in place to retain them, work to fill your classes to get the most out of your space, and ensure you compensate Coaches in a manner that encourages them to represent your brand.


By Kinnick McDonald is the director of marketing for Zen Planner. She can be reached at or visit to download the full 2017 Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report.