Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Choosing a Location for your CrossFit Box

Picking a location for your new CrossFit box is one of the most important decisions you'll make.  Choosing the right location will lead to customers flocking to your doors, but choose the wrong location - too far from your customers, bad neighbors, not enough space - and you'll be regretting it for years.

If You Build it, Will They Come?


Before you choose a location, you need to take a look at the type of people that live nearby.  While you may have a gut feeling about a particular area, it's smart to actually look at the numbers.

While CrossFitters come in all shapes in sizes, the 'average' CrossFit customer is white, between 25 and 34 years old, and has an income over $150,000 per year.  That's a pretty narrow demographic you need to find, and of those, income is probably the most important. Compared to a normal, big-box gym, CrossFit is expensive, so you need customers that can afford it.

You can use a site called FreeDemographics to find information about people living within a defined area.  While the information on that site is based on distance between where people live and a target point, you also need to consider travel time.  People may drive 20 minutes to get to your box, but will they drive 30 minutes?  MaxWod has a good overview on how to use FreeDemographics for find demographics for an area..

Sweat the Details


There are a lot of little details about a space that make or break it as a good spot for a CrossFit box. Keep these things in mind when you're evaluating spaces.

Zoning


This varies from city to city.  Some are more stringent and some lax when it comes to enforcement, so work with a commercial real estate agent who can help navigate you through the process. You should also check out this video from Again Faster.

Parking


While a spot in an industrial zone can be ideal for a CrossFit box (high ceilings, low rent), many won't have the parking you'll need.  The amount of parking you'll need is based on the maximum number of students you'll have in each class.  If you target 15 students per class, you'll probably need at least that many parking spaces - plus a few extra for turn-over between classes (and a spot for you and your trainers).

Neighbors


CrossFit boxes are loud.  Weights are dropping, music is blaring, and if your neighbor is a small fashion boutique, they won't be happy.  You'll likely see your neighbors every day, and while you don't have to be friends with them, you probably don't want them all to hate you, either.  Choose a spot that you can blend into.

Layout


You're going to need fairly high ceilings if you want to include things like rope climbs or tall rigs. 16 feet is a good target.

Drive-by and Walk-in Traffic


A great way for people to find your new CrossFit box is to see it on their way home from work, or while they're out running other errands.  If your box is far down a side street in an industrial park, you can probably count this out.

Lease


Here's another area where working with a commercial real-estate agent helps.  You'll want to negotiate a lease that meets your needs.  If you're choosing a small location, but you expect to grow, you'll need a lease that's easy to get out of (which may cost you more on a per-month basis than a lease that locks you in for 5 years).