In business, the organization that is continuously on offense has a “first-mover advantage.” Not only do they become the first entrant, it also affords them a competitive edge over the competition.
For example, over two years ago we noticed a persistent problem in our group classes. Some classes would have a few athletes attending while other classes had over twenty people in them. Not only did this make coaching difficult it also became a safety issue. We eventually had to acknowledge that these large class sizes weren’t offering the value that we promised. Anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you a membership. As I researched what local gyms where doing I noticed everyone was doing it the same way.
At that point, I had two options; I could have accepted a defensive mindset that this was “just the way it was” or I could go on offense and find a solution to my problem. I choose to find a solution. I began looking at what the BEST gyms in the world were doing (not the local ones), and I noticed a pattern. They were capping their classes using a reservation system.
From the time I realized that this was what I wanted to do at my gym to the moment we implemented the system it took about six months. It’s important to note that the reason many never become first movers in their industry is that they are unwilling to walk a path that has never been paved. Although gyms were already doing this, they were reluctant to tell us how they did it.
I took every possible issue that could come up and worked through it with my staff to figure how we could best resolve them. After finally launching our reservation system, we had overwhelmingly positive feedback. The indirect effect that I never predicted was that I was able to recruit a more committed, disciplined member who saw the value of our new policy.
Through it all, I stayed the course listening to the conviction that something wasn’t okay. Not only did it provide a value-add to the business I found more dedicated and faithful members in the process. My biggest mistake was that I didn’t go on the offense sooner.
When in doubt always be proactive. Constantly ask yourself what you can do better. No matter how scary the solution may be, it will always give you the advantage. Always be on the offense.
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