Most readers here are familiar with the industry growth that indoor rock climbing businesses have seen over the past 6 years. The Climbing Business Journal’s Annual Gyms and Trends report gives a detailed analysis of the state of the industry, and one observation consistently made by potential first-time gym owners is that every year sees increased activity from large gym brands opening additional gyms. Many existing climbing gym brands are expanding into new markets, while some are bolstering their presence in existing markets not yet fully saturated.
This expansion can create apprehension amongst first-time business partners looking to break into the industry when planning their first climbing gym. The thought of competing on a scale with larger industry-staple brands is intimidating and overwhelming. As was the case with a recent early-stage gym owner that felt lost as a small start-up in a sea of big and established gym companies, and was considering abandoning their plans altogether before landing on a partnership with the all-American climbing gym builder, Vertical Solutions.
The early years of the industry saw gym owners figuring their businesses out on-the-fly, with no prior model to adopt for success. The continued industry growth has witnessed a trend towards larger operations that require big-money and large scale professional construction sites, as compared to climbing gyms historically being boot-strapped businesses, mostly self-funded smaller scale DIY projects. These start-up gym owners felt that the larger operations set the precedent for climbing gyms of all sizes to perform as businesses and excel at being profitable. They needed an advantage to help them succeed, so they searched for a team that had established experience of owning multiple gyms, as well as experience creating small start-up gym successes for first-time proprietors.
After surveying the field, they landed on the new Vertical Solutions website which places emphasis on a holistic approach between the products and services they offer. Traditionally known for their highly-aesthetic curved and geometric climbing walls, the website isn’t limited to their work in climbing wall design and construction, but rather equal attention is placed on flooring system products, climbing hold products, an online climbing gym supply store, and — most importantly for them — a business consulting program.
The consulting and company pages of VSClimbingGyms.com draws attention to the fact that they currently own and operate large-scale successful climbing gyms in Utah, and also that they began as small start-ups just like 90% of their clients. They assert that because of this, they can give your start-up business the advantage it needs to succeed. They highlight this 15-year history and data collection in small and large gym operations as being a main difference in approach to business consulting, and as a result they have developed a model for success that can be applied to a customer’s specific vision, no-matter the scale.
It was clear to these future gym-owners that gone were the days of gym start-ups taking a casual approach to the requisite business planning and data analysis needed to create a productive business. So they took an in-depth look at the Sample Gym Financial Modeler Spreadsheet that is supplied for free on VSClimbingGyms.com, and gained confidence knowing that there are tools available to navigate the complexity in opening a climbing gym. They signed on to receive the Vertical Solutions Business Consulting package and started collaborating immediately to tailor the Financial Modeler to their business.
It was no short process, and more often than not the consultation conversations created more questions than answers in the first week. Aware that this was part of the development program, they started working tirelessly on refining their understanding of the challenges ahead. As part of the Business Consulting Package, this is just one of the tools that were applied to their market, goals, demographics, and general environment. Vertical Solutions worked to familiarize them with the conversations, business plan documents, and pro forma associated with the financial lending process to expedite funding success, among other things. Through these efforts, they accelerated the timeframe to reach milestones in the process to successfully open their gym doors.
Research then Development
The advisory role that more experienced businesses play can be integral to a new gym owner’s success and tremendously beneficial for small start-ups. If you are currently planning your first climbing gym, it is imperative to do your homework by researching companies that offer comprehensive services and Business Consulting Packages. The success of start-up climbing facilities in a world of big-league brands hinges on a comprehensive approach to serving your market, and it is important that you work with partners/product providers who understand that strategy from experience. The result produces a deeper integration and personal (even emotional) investment in your project, which gives you greater probability for success.
To jump-start the success of your new start-up climbing gym, inquire about the Vertical Solutions Business Consulting Package by visiting the Vertical Solutions website or reaching out to them for more information.
Climbing Business Journal is an independent news outlet dedicated to covering the indoor climbing industry. Here you will find the latest coverage of climbing industry news, gym developments, industry best practices, risk management, climbing competitions, youth coaching and routesetting. Have an article idea? CBJ loves to hear from readers like you!