Equipping Your Facility. Part 4

Budget

Your budget should be one ofthe last things you consider when purchasing equipment, says Stauble. “You should narrow it down to two or three manufacturers, and let them compete. To come in on-budget, change the mix of equipment rather than order a line of cheap equipment that doesn’t fit your mission.” While you can often obtain a price discount by purchasing an entire line from one manufacturer, Musselman warns against this. He says, “You shouldn’t buy one whole line from top to bottom.” Rather, his advice is to”pick and choose” the best from each manufacturer. Consider hiring a consultant, who can act as an “equipment broker” and do the negotiating for you.

Staying competitive

To thrive, facilities need to cater to existing members, while simultaneously attracting new members from other markets. A popular and effective new option for attracting and retaining younger members, says DeMars, is sports-specific training. He recommends organizing equipment according to certain sports, and promoting programs based around sports. “I think that you’re going to find that, over the next decade, sports-specific training modules and programs are going to be all the rage.” Classes that train for “extreme” sports such as snowboarding and surfing are especially effective for young adults.

Other considerations

Accessibility.How accessible is your facility? How wide are your doors? Do delivery people have to use stairs? Some equipment is particularly awkward, and this can be a problem when it’s time to bring it into your facility. Stair climbers, for example, are particularly bulky, and need a wide door and no stairs for easy access.

Warranties.Due to competition, manufacturers revise their warranties and sometimes run special deals, but, says Stauble, “If it’s a high-level brand, assume a good warranty. The high-level manufacturers don’t build junk: they build good machines.” Musselman looks at individual parts, to see which have the longest warranties. “Treadmills don’t break, they wear out” due to excessive use, he says. He tells customers to review warranties for the deck surface and belt on treadmills, and similar parts on other equipment.

Ask your members

One of the best resources to consult when determining which equipment to purchase is your members (and potential members). Walk around your facility and other facilities and ask exercisers what they like, what they don’t like and what they are looking for in fitness equipment. Also ask your friends, relatives and neighbors what equipment they prefer, and if they don’t work out, ask them what would draw them into a facility.

For a basic rule in choosing equipment, DeMars says, “Consumers gravitate toward equipment that feels better, is easier to use, produces the best results and gives them the best workout.” Follow these simple principles, and you can select equipment that fits your facility and pleases your members.

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