The secret sauce!

Last Thursday at 10am, I pulled into the Planet Fitness carpark, ready for my morning workout, and I was amazed to see that the car park was packed. I thought there must be some special event going on, but I was wrong. The cars  all belonged to regular Joe’s like me, who were there to work out. My curiosity was aroused and I wondered “Why is Planet Fitness so popular at this time of the week?”.

What  I discovered through my research was that Planet Fitness (PF) is just generally popular – Thursday mornings aren’t much different to any other time of the week. Planet Fitness has about 4.4 million members and 616 clubs across 48 states.  That amounts to 2% of the adult population, or 8% of all US gym memberships.

So why is Planet Fitness so popular? I believe the answer is multilayered and contains some valuable insight for other business owners.

What PF does really well is to reduce the emotional and financial barriers to gym membership.

The monthly cost to be a member is just $10 per person (or $20 per month with the opportunity to bring a guest at anytime). Not that long ago I was “happy” to pay $260 a month to belong to a health club. Because of the relatively high cost I felt I needed to be there all the time to make the most of the membership benefits. At $10 per month, I doubt that I’ll ever cancel my membership. Which brings me to another key point. There is no term on PF membership. You can cancel at anytime. My previous club insisted on a 12 month membership package, which they automatically renewed unless you canceled it – which you never remembered to do!

One of the reasons people are anxious about joining a gym is the “bodybuilder” environment,  but Planet Fitness has a deliberate policy to make regular people feel welcome. They create an atmosphere that they call “no gymtimidation”, so you aren’t going to see bodybuilders in wife-beater shirts, or size two, perma-tanned models working out. Personally I don’t like it when bodybuilders are grunting and banging weights around, and PF has a solution for this too – it’s called, the “lunk alarm” and the staff sound it if  excessive grunting is detected or weights are being dropped on the ground.

What Planet Fitness has done is discover its X-factor.

Described in his book Scaling Up and in his Fortune article titled “The X-Factor”, Verne Harnish describes the X-Factor as the 10-100x competitive advantage that organizations gain by solving an industry bottleneck or revolutionizing the marketplace with a new way to create customer value or conduct business.

Most business owners concentrate on bottlenecks in their own businesses, but what if instead of looking at what is broken in your business, you instead study what is broken in your industry. What is a problem (or problems) that all of your industry competitors have? By solving those problems you “win” the race against your competition.

So what are the bottlenecks in your industry? If you can find them, and then solve them, your business could be as successful as Planet Fitness. If you would like a complimentary 60 minute session with the Jager coaches, to help you discover your X factor, please call us at (440) 385 6737.