Saving a Sinking Ship, Part 5: The Relaunch

by Troy Fontana on Apr 30, 2013

Fitness Management 101

Conclusion of our series on how to rescue a drowning personal training business.

The “Saving a Sinking Ship” series has profiled a flailing business called Jacked Up Fitness. Part 1, “Bringing Your Business Back From the Brink,” covered an initial assessment I did that revealed several core issues needing improvement. In response, the facility’s owners made aesthetic changes, improved their systems, revamped leadership structure, added a set of policies and organized their financial infrastructure. (For more about Jacked Up’s financial infrastructure, see Part 4 of the series: “Understanding the Financial Structure of Your Business.”

This concluding installment of “Saving a Sinking Ship” describes how we finalized the improvements at Jacked Up Fitness and how we’re preparing for a blazing relaunch.

Revitalizing Your Reputation

The first major step in rebranding an organization is to change its reputation. Through the years, Jacked Up Fitness had become known as a “meat-head” training facility. The difficulty with a reputation like this is that you attract only a specific segment of the public—a group that already has a mind for fitness and already has a gym membership. This leaves your target market focused on the 16% of the population that belong to gyms (IHRSA 2012). Furthermore, the crowd that goes to a meat-head gym is most often quite young and usually short on expendable income. In other words, Jacked Up Fitness appealed to a tiny group of physically fit yet financially unfit members. Would you want to build your gym solely on such a limited customer base?

In Part 2, “Sprucing Up Your Studio's Aesthetics,” the owners expressed a desire to target a slightly older market. This market tends to be more loyal to a facility and willing to pay a little extra for quality service. To appeal to them, we softened the color palette, added plants and better lighting, and did more to improve the facility’s environment. Before our grand reopening, we needed to give the same treatment to the name, logo and marketing materials.

The Rebrand

Jacked Up Fitness suffered from a poor reputation, so one of the first things we did was complete a total rebrand to attract the new target market. This included updating the name and the logo.

The name, while appealing to the current member base, was harsh and off-putting to the target market. After careful consideration of the studio’s new direction, the owners decided to update the name to Tone Body Fitness.

The next step was to change the logo to reflect the new name and color scheme. It’s best to hire a skilled designer. For a less expensive alternative, budget-conscious business owners can look into options like the ones offered by 99 Designs (

Once the new logo design was completed, we placed the new name and logo in a 3-D display at the front entrance of the studio. The display—in combination with color scheme updates, additional greenery and improved lighting—created a warm welcome for current customers as well as potential ones.

Drawing In the Crowds

Now that the branding is complete, it’s time to share the changes with the world. I’ve developed a special offer to invite potential customers to view the space. For the relaunch we will use a “$25 same-as-cash” voucher in conjunction with a “10-day pass” offer.

Same-as-cash voucher. The “same-as-cash” voucher can be used to purchase services like personal training or a membership. To potential customers, the voucher seems like real money, and they will feel more prompted to use their “cash” than to settle for a discounted item. A “same-as-cash” promotion doesn’t devalue your services; it shows that your brand has value and prestige. Offering discounts on services tends to have the opposite effect.

10-day pass. A 10-day pass may seem excessive, but there is an incredible advantage to having a “guest” at your facility for an extended period of time, provided you are conducting business the right way. The more time you and your “guests” have together, the more opportunities you have to impress them and showcase your competitive advantages. For personal training–only studios, you can use the “10-day pass” to add to or create a small- or large-group training platform.

Promotional Materials

To promote our special offer, we’ll distribute fliers throughout the community. Everything in business speaks, so I’ve ensured that the fliers include the following details:

  • high-quality graphics, printed on high-gloss paper
  • professionally photographed pictures that showcase the facility’s new décor and color scheme
  • two testimonials, to create a “real-life” connection for potential members
  • minimal copy—because, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words

Once the fliers are printed, we will hand-deliver as many as possible to local employment facilities; within 15 miles of Tone Body Fitness there are three large corporate office buildings serving 750 employees. These workers are the perfect target audience for our relaunch. We will also place a similar “door-hanger” on the front door of every residence within 5 miles of the facility. Both of these tactics are very inexpensive forms of marketing.

Along with flier distribution, we’ll air a “spot” on several local radio stations (with the same offer) for a 10-day period. Radio advertising can be expensive, but running an ad like this for a limited time can be quite cost-effective.

I will write several press releases and submit them to the local TV, radio and newspaper outlets. The media is always looking for a good story. In this case, I will highlight the changes that have been made at Jacked Up Fitness—now officially known as Tone Body Fitness—and explain our offer. The release will invite members of the community to enjoy a complimentary workout on a specific weekend. To participate, they will need to bring a canned food item to be donated to a local food bank organization. By endorsing a charity in the relaunch, we create greater media participation by connecting the community to our event. Media outlets are more likely to cover an event that focuses on the community as a whole, rather than on a business attempting to gain recognition. By capturing greater media involvement, we can expect greater community participation.

Preparing for the Grand Reopening

Preparing the Space
The day before the grand reopening, I’ll have the owners close the facility for the day so cleaning crews can make it surgically clean. I’ve also hired a hospitality team to prep the center with choice sanitary products to enhance an atmosphere of quality and safety.

Preparing the Staff
Now that the marketing is in place and the facility is ready for the public, the final step is to rehearse our new customer service strategies with the staff. For a refresher on these new strategies, see Saving a Sinking Ship, Part 3: “Achieving Excellence in Customer Service.”

Improving customer service includes making the staff more visible to members and potential clients. During my initial assessment I saw that it was difficult to tell the customers from the employees, so I encouraged the studio owners to invest in uniform shirts for everyone. This increases brand visibility (we want the brand to be seen as often as possible), and it makes finding staff members easier whenever members and clients need assistance. My goal is to help assemble a group of people who not only are highly efficient at their jobs but also are seen as an additional asset to the services that the members purchase. Matching uniforms show that employees are part of a team.

Tone Body Fitness is now ready to begin its newly hand-crafted journey to success.

The key to a relaunch is to showcase the positive changes, reposition the brand and make the community feel welcomed—and what’s more, excited to join. Not all training studios or gyms need a complete overhaul that includes a new name and logo, but in this case it was necessary. For your own relaunch, start by taking small steps in the right direction. I believe greatness is 100 little things done right.

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About the Author

Troy Fontana

Troy Fontana IDEA Author/Presenter

Troy Fontana is a 13-year veteran of the Fitness Industry. He is CEO of Freedom Fitness Unlimited and founder of Business for Fitness Professionals, an organization designed to educate, inspire and se...