How Not to Run a Business (Lessons from an Eastern European Gym)

I love living abroad, but I’d be lying if I said there were some things I didn’t miss about living in the west. Namely the fact that when you go further east, it’s no longer the “customer is always right” mentality.

I’ve actually written about this before, too.

That’s not so much the problem as it is the sheer stupidity that some businesses exercise. In this case, I’m going to pick on my latest gym.

You get used to it, but then you also realize you can learn a lot from it. There’s no sense in me wasting my breath or energy being upset about the situation. Life goes on. The sun will still rise tomorrow, and I’ll still get up and go to the gym. So let’s look on the positive side—it’s easy for me to turn around and now share these experiences, which can help YOU with your business practices.

With that being said, here’s some key business lessons you can take from a dumb gym in Eastern Europe.

NOT ALLOWING SHORT-TERM SIGNUPS

What kind of gym allows sign ups for two months but not one?

One month is a common term for expats to go to a location. This gym is in a major expat city. In a very big expat hub.

So why turn away a digital nomad who will only be there for a month?

Or the businessman who is there two weeks for a conference of sorts? There is little a major business hotel and conference center next door. He won’t sign up for two months. One month might make it worth his while.

Lesson to take away: A short term customer, no matter how short, is better than no customer at all.

NOT LETTING YOU CHANGE THE STRUCTURE

I tried to swap to a one year membership. I was told I had to wait out my two month contract.

Yeah, think about that.

I am trying to give them MORE money and become a 12-month customer and they say NO?

Sheer stupidity. Take my Tinder and text game course, for example.

The course goes four months, but I do give the option to buy it all up front. But yeah—I’d rather you sign up for the four months and pay me more over the long-term. Plus, if it’s not for you, you can cancel.

But I certainly wouldn’t say no to someone who paid for the first month and then wanted to buy the thing outright. That’d be stupid.

Lesson to take away: Always take the long term money, even if it means losing a bit up front. In the case of my gym, they would lose $30 if they let me sign up for the year (for the first month). Month-by-month is $50, annual is $22.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Make your customers happy. Let them give you more money over the long-term, even if it means taking a short term “hit”. Don’t be like Eastern European gyms who can’t seem to see this, no matter how simple it seems on the surface.

Without your customers, you’re nothing.

Especially in the world of internet business.

  • April 3, 2017
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