How to Buy a Gym the Right Way

Buying a gym or health club is a big and life-changing decision that also involves your family. You have so much at stake — your savings, energy and time — that the buying process could be overwhelming. Buying an existing gym is less risky than starting a new one. Its advantages include an existing market, trained employees, ongoing revenue and a proven working system in place. With these conditions in place, the question now lies on your capability to run the gym.

Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? How can you avoid making the wrong decisions when buying a gym?

How to Buy a Gym for Sale

1. Choose a gym you are not only interested in, but one that matches your skills and experience. Not knowing anything about the gym will entail spending valuable time and possibly costly mistakes to acquire the necessary knowledge.

What type of gym matches your skills? The gym should thrive from your strengths. Choose a gym that you enjoy and find fulfillment.

2. How much cash can you invest in the gym? Be realistic — buy a gym you can afford. Your financial capability determines the size of the gym you can buy. Be ready with your personal financial documents — assets and liabilities, credit standing and proof of funds. Outline how you plan to pay for the gym.

Your equity usually comprises a third of the purchase price. You can look for a business loan or an investor or partner for the rest of the balance. You can also get assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

3. Discuss your plans with your spouse and family members. Since the purchase uses funds for the family, you owe it to them to listen to their inputs and suggestions. Get their support. Will this gym suit your lifestyle or family needs? How many hours each day will you spend in the gym?

4. Devote time to the buying process. It can take months or longer, depending on how much time you put in. Be patient as you carefully research available gym opportunities. Focus on what is suitable for you.

5. Seek professional advice. A gym appraiser and accountant can help in the valuation of the gym; a lawyer can prepare, review and verify legal documents. You can also benefit from the services of a gym broker who can help you search for the gym to buy until the closing of the sale.

6. Study how the buying process works. Collect information; ask questions; read. Being well informed and prepared will shorten the buying process. You will save time, effort and money. Your accountant, lawyer and broker are there to provide answers.

7. Decide if you need a gym partner. You may need a partner to address an entrepreneurial skill you lack or you require more capital.

8. Search the gyms for sale market once you narrowed down your choice as to the industry, the price range, the size, and location of the right gym for you. www.fmconsulting.net/gymsforsale.

9. Examine the risks of buying the gym. What is the future outlook of the gym? Do you have the capability to continue to run the business profitably? How can you beat your competitors? Do your research.

10. Is the gym priced right? Which assets of the gym are included in the sale? Is the asking price near your valuation? Find out as much as you can about the gym before committing to buy it.

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: www.fmconsulting.net. or www.jimthomasondemand.com.

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