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Thinking of starting a bouldering gym (rock climbing gym)

Discussion in 'Small Business' started by hpresident, 14th Jun, 2016.

  1. hpresident

    hpresident Well-Known Member

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    I have done somefeasibility study and started a business plan on opening a bouldering gym (Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses)

    Anyone here have any experience in starting up a gym of any sort? Looking to bounce ideas with someone. Or if you are kind enough some mentoring.

    Few questions:
    How does one determine the potential demand in the area?
    What is the typical conversion rate between one time user to membership?
    What are the unexpected costs?
    % of return I should target?
     
  2. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    Hi @hpresident

    It sounds like your knowledge of this space isn't sufficient for it to be a safe business investment for you. I know this sector very well, and it is a sector that will burn you badly if you don't really know your stuff.
     
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  3. Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Very niche market I'd guess...
    You'd have to keep overheads low or offer extra services to generate more income.
    The biggest hurdle I'd foresee is insurance qualifications.
    If you can operate 24/7 unsupervised like most 24/7 gyms, that would help reduce staffing overheads.
    Might be tough to compete with places like SkyZone which offers so much more variety of activity.
    Even though their price would be higher, their target market is so much bigger that way.

    Just found this place online - 9 degrees - Indoor Climbing Sydney
    Seems more popular than I would have thought...
     
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  4. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    You must have rocks in your head. ;)
     
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  5. Mooze

    Mooze Well-Known Member

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    Figure out your insurance costs, how would you consistently fill it (school sport groups?), what you'd need for marketing etc.
    Good luck.
    Sounds niche as all hell.
     
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  6. datto

    datto Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea of rock climbing. People who have practiced this sport have moved onto high rise window cleaning and earned top money.

    I'd like to improve my climbing skills from a property maintenance perspective. A while back I was on the roof clearing the leaves.

    When I finished and tried going back down the ladder I got my belt buckle stuck on the gutter. The ladder fell and I was left dangling till the neighbour heard my screams and helped me down.
     
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  7. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Hi-rise window cleaners have their heads in the clouds.
     
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  8. hpresident

    hpresident Well-Known Member

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    I have called a few brokers and the general quote I got for insurance is 7-10k.
    Staffing would be 1.5 people for 10 hours a day and 2 for 12 hours on weekend. My feaso suggest that to break even I need 90 visitors a day (this is assume people paying 1 time entry fee). I think on the cost side, I have identified most things such as:
    Rent
    Cost of building walls
    Repair
    Marketing
    Staff
    Insurance ect

    What I am struggling is estimating the number of people that would come and portion of people that would be on membership vs. 1 time entry.
     
  9. Bran

    Bran Well-Known Member

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    90 visitors a day? This is on par with a fairly busy emergency department.
     
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  10. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    The climbing place at St Peters in Sydney gets a lot of visitors. It's not the bouldering thing - more traditional climbing with ropes etc. a lot of people go there regularly after work - like gyms. When it opened, I didn't think it would take off at all. Shows how little I know. (I still don't think the axe throwing place will last.)
    Scott
     
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  11. Waldo

    Waldo Well-Known Member

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    Are you limiting your customer base by only doing bouldering? What extra costs would be involved if you had regular climbing walls? Sounds like staff numbers would be similar regardless, which might be one of your biggest overheads.
     
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  12. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    Hi @hpresident

    This is a very niche space and you'd be pushing it uphill to succeed if you are not well and truly entrenched in the climbing space already. If you are not, you won't understand what the customers want, how to deliver it, how to convince people to attend your facility etc.

    This is an industry in which operators lean heavily on their reputations. The danger for you would be trying to build a facility to attract customers that will immediately question who on earth you are, where you came from, and realise you don't know what you are doing. Climbers will rightfully have serious reservations about attending a climbing facility built and run by someone that has no knowledge of climbing itself or the safety around it. Expecting 90 visitors per day under such a scenario is very ambitious. I also imagine the insurer would require a minimum of 2 staff on duty at all times, with all staff trained in first aid, probably with "working with children" checks in place etc etc.

    The most appropriate course of action if this path genuinely interests you, is to participate in the sport for some time... immerse yourself in it, understand the people that participate in it, network with current facility operators etc.

    It is very dangerous to forge ahead with any investment or business without a solid idea of how you will attract customers or how many customers you would reasonably expect... and you need to be dead certain of it in your own mind, not just based on what someone else tells you. Without customers there's no income and you go under very fast.

    I have watched many folks have a crack at running climbing facilities and go bankrupt trying to do so.
     
    Last edited: 15th Jun, 2016
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  13. hpresident

    hpresident Well-Known Member

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    Initially it would be bouldering only, plus fitness classes like yoga, bouldering lessons and circuit trainings.

    @JacM
    This plan is probably still 6 month away. I have been climbing for about 6 month so still fresh. But the idea would be network within the industry and potentially identify a business partner. I do have a few meeting with gym owners/bouldering gym owners setup in the up coming weeks, should find out more from there.
     
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  14. SueA

    SueA Well-Known Member

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    Put in a heap of trampolines down the other end for the kids, womens fitness. Café... I remember when that Bounce opened I tried to book for some of the grandkids, it was nearly a month wait at 17 bucks an hour each. While the kids are busy, mum and dad climb the walls. "BouncinBoulders" :)
     
  15. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    I think that combining yoga or pilates with a climbing facility is a good idea. Glad to hear that you will be networking with some folks that already run climbing facilities that can assist you with understanding things more clearly.
     
  16. TMNT

    TMNT Well-Known Member

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    do you have knoweldge in the rock climibng or rocks or sports centre sector?
     
  17. hpresident

    hpresident Well-Known Member

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    @TMNT
    Aside from being a climber for the last 6 month no. I do have experience in project management (project engineering backgroud), started a property development firm, involved in a few startups. Overall I am a bit all over the place.
     
  18. TMNT

    TMNT Well-Known Member

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    I was actually asking jacM :)

    he/she said they have knowledge, so just curious
     
  19. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    @TMNT ... yeah just a bit ;). I've been in that sector for over 20 years. I participate in the sport... worked in some of the gyms in my younger years, and project managed the construction of the Burnley Bouldering Walls in Victoria. Three walls of different levels of overhang and difficulty. Free facility below the freeway in the suburb of Burnley.

    Burnley Bouldering Wall
     
  20. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Pretty hard to compete on price against that one might need to consider service, knowledge, experience, safety, parties etc.