On Tuesday we started our search for a space for the new SST location in Richmond Hill. This isn’t the same as looking for a new place to live. There are so many things to consider that one doesn’t even have to think about when they are looking for a new apartment or house. For example, my concerns when house hunting are grocery shopping, proximity to riding, proximity to a decent gym, space and safety. These things aren’t of much concern when looking for a place to open a gym.
So far our concerns are focused on a few key areas:
Parking. We need lots of parking. Our needs are somewhat different from a typical commercial or industrial business in that our peak times are going to be early in the morning (6-10) and after school (from 4 PM on). This offers some flexibility but we do need to be sure there is room for all of the people who come to the facility to park regardless of when they come to workout.
Location relative to where the people live, where they are coming from and where they are going to. We need to be easy to get to. While our services are first rate, people won’t show up if it takes them too long to get there or if they have a difficult time getting home. We saw a few locations that were the ideal space – very long for a good running track – but they were well away from the residential areas, which took them out of the running.
Dimensions. We’re looking for a space that is between 3500 – 6000 sq feet but it needs to have a track / turf area. Given that SST focuses on making athletes faster, the track needs to be long enough to allow the athletes to get up to top speed but leave them with enough room to slow down. For this reason, a 60 / 60 space isn’t going to provide us with the length we need. The space we’re looking for needs to be a rectangle and not a square.
Lighting. A location that has poor lighting inside is not going to help motivate people to work hard. If there are no windows people may feel closed in and not like coming to workout. If the lighting outside is bad, people won’t feel safe coming to the center when it is dark.
Feeling we get from the space. Can we see a functioning gym existing in the space and one that we are happy to work in? Once we sign the lease and open the center we are there for years. If the space cannot be made into a comfortable location, there’s no point in setting-up shop. The center’s success will be determined by the attitudes of the people who work there so we need to make sure that we can be upbeat all of the time. The space itself needs to motivate people to push past their perceived limitations and achieve what they believe is impossible.
Vision for the final product. We need to be able to visualize the finished facility from a layout perspective. There needs to be a logical layout for the offices, track and workout areas where nothing presently exists and this layout needs to make the most of the available space.
The process of finding the perfect space is a challenge but one that I’m enjoying and learning from. It’s a challenge that almost every business goes through so I know we’re going to open in a great location that meets the needs of our athletes and our team!