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Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Oct 20, 2012 - 06:17am PT
Carlo, if build it. I will pay to climb there.

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Oct 20, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
From a climbing gym owner.

Not sure who it was, but if your gym is only turning over $15,000, you're doing something wrong. Don't believe climbing gyms are profitable, check out the back of climbing magazine and see how many of them they are across the U.S. Still a young industry,but plenty of money.

Once you have a 3-D module of your gym, consider offering a pre-opening membership special. This could help pull existing climbers away from where they are currently training and towards your location.

Consider offer a what ever % discount to other climbing gym members for day use of a trial membership to your place. This may enticed them to at least come try your gym. If you don't get people in the door, you can get new members.

Allow new/first time climbers to try climbing anytime, don't have the "I never climbed before" class at a specific time. Everyone on your staff should be able to teach the basics, and anyone walking in should be able to tryright than and there. (Impulse)

Some price/membership promotion we ar currently using:

Monday to Firday, get here before noon, pay half price for day use. (Nice for college kids)

10 day trial membership. This membership includes all rental gear for ten days. (We use to have two weeks, but move it to ten days as an experiment. Works out better.

We offer a limited day membership. People choose the two days a week they will climb. (Monday and Wednesday or Thursday and Sunday) This is a special reduced price. Very profitable for us, not sure why people like it.

Punch cards.

Our fitness classes can be drop in with a Day class fee or a fitness member fee.

Marketing, Marketing, marketing. If you build it they will come just isn't true. People have to know you exist before they can come in your doors. You think everyone knows you once you're open, but they won't. I know some office workers two blocks away who had never heard of us until last week. (one year open)

We use facebook heavily. Everyone who climbs here and takes photos, we ask them to Tag our gym. Facebook friends end up in our gym the next day, even if just to look. Once on our doors, our staff gives the tour/sell pitch. Non climbers looking won't try unless you can explain to them why they should.

Consider using Groupon for your promotion. Helps get the word out very quickly.

Events, Events, Events. We had a Glow in the dark (UV Lights) climbing party last nights. Loads of new faces came just to see, some will come back. Newspaper and local television covered the event.


Santa Monica, CA
Oct 21, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
I'd like to reiterate everything "On Your Left" said, we talk about these things all the time and have both been members at our current climbing gym for a long time. I am not happy with our climbing gym. Have discussed things with management who then point to ownership, claim their hands are tied, there's "no money" for this or that, and so on.

The route setting is terrible. Pay your setters, find good people, it's worth the investment. Frankly this is one of your very most important, if not the most important investment. If your setting is bad, if you leave the same routes up for months on end (yes, this gym does...sometimes as long as 4 months), if your routes all cater to one type of climber (tall, crimpy, open-handed, etc.) rather than offering a variety...then why would anyone leave where they are and come to you? This is especially necessary in the bouldering area - where the routes can wind up being set only by young, sometimes newbie, interested-only-in-dynos type guys. Variety, variety, variety. One of the hardest things you will do is try to have something for everyone. For example some very good, very experienced climbers will only climb moderate stuff in the gym, they're not going to risk getting hurt on plastic and they're there for maintenance. Also, some of us are not tall with a giant ape index. Ok, you get the picture.

Clean your gym. Clean everything. Clean the holds, clean the bathrooms and other common areas. If you have workout equipment, rubber gym matting, free weights - clean it all and clean it a lot. Our gym workout area is disgusting. Bathrooms/showers all of this stuff must be kept as clean as possible. I can't believe how much this is overlooked. To offer a workout area as well as climbing is a huge benefit, but not if the machines are filthy with dried sweat and it's a germ factory.

I would rant about the kids' birthday parties but do understand you've got to make this kind of money. Keep them separated physically from the general climbing area if you can. Keep them (and kids in general) out of the bouldering area. This goes to your staff...

The staff need to enforce the rules for safety reasons but also for the enjoyment of everyone. That means they don't sit behind the front desk, eating, talking, shooting the sh*t and basically not working. They need to be engaged, walk around, be professional (for example, don't yell at the 5.12 climber who accidentally skipped the bottom bolt on the dinky 30 ft. lead climb, in front of everyone and for 2 minutes straight. A quiet chat and some understanding and context, especially when you know this person, would be more appropriate)...

People upthread have talked about a separate area for beginners and classes. Very important - if you have the space to this it would be great. I've literally had a class teacher walk in front of me as I was roping up in front of a climb I was about to do and put his class on this climb. I wasn't standing there for my health or to watch his class...

Please, if you're going to allow food and drink in the gym, especially pizza and other food that tends to create a lot of mess and smell, have a designated place for it, so we don't accidentally sit in it or have it spill on our ropes, harnesses, etc. because it's on the benches in the climbing area.

Listen to the feedback of your customers and genuinely take it into consideration. You probably don't want them to sound like I do right now!

Not sure what you plan to charge, but there should be some specials like a family plan and if you can, some consideration taken based on what members are currently paying elsewhere. If it's good, people may be willing to pay more. Offering special events, hosting talks relevant to climbing and the outdoors would be great. Slideshows, readings, all that kind of stuff is fun, informative and helps create community.

Someone raised the point about your location being in the Valley and the weather - it will be hot, very hot and very muggy in the gym for a good portion of the year. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on air conditioning and/or electric for fans - you will need it. Be willing to buy fans or do something if your membership is telling you that it's too hot and smarmy.

I wish you were talking about opening on the Westside as we live and work over here and coming out to the Valley during the week is not really an option. But you never know - offer a great product and people will show up. Sorry if I sound cranky - hopefully some of what I've said will make sense and seem reasonable to you. Good luck!

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Oct 22, 2012 - 12:10am PT
Route setting, I always remind my staff that our routes are our products for our members.

Great advice overall.
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