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They say you have to spend money to make money — but that’s not always true. By carefully evaluating your facility, you can uncover new ways to maximize your income per square foot by modifying already-available space and resources into newer, more exceptional experiences.

According to Megan Gibson, the fitness and wellness director at the Bill Bartley Family YMCA in Wichita Falls, Texas, convenience is the name of the game for consumers. “In the past five years, people have more often wanted quick and convenient,” she said. “Create a one-stop shop when it comes to health and wellness.”

To create this one-stop shop, you’ll need to design a space in your facility to accommodate a wide array of programming that doesn’t disrupt other offerings you already have in place.

“Making sure the room flows with all the products is very important — in our space we were able to offer three different feels in one large space,” said Gibson. “We offer suspension training, turf and modalities used in HIIT training.”

And while HIIT training is a priority at the Bill Bartley Y, other types of exercises will be popular at different facilities. It’s important to know which workouts resonate most with your members.

“The programing behind a facility is probably most important,” said Gibson. “Implement programs that fit within your mission and values as a facility. Having a vision far beyond what is currently available is the key to maximizing your income per square foot.”

It’s also important to consider accessibility — getting a wider variety of members into a space will help boost your income per square foot. Community recreation facilities are popular among children, families and seniors, so your programming should cater to those populations as well.

“Create a space that allows you to hit all age ranges,” advised Gibson. “If a child can be active and involved at the same time the parent is, it’s a win-win. This also allows families to feel as though they are participating in something together.”

According to Gibson, the first and most important step to enhancing your facility is to settle on the desired end product. “Create a vision prior to creating a new space, especially when actually implementing anything that comes with a cost,” she said. “Not having a vision of how you want to appeal to your audience can affect your potential for growth, and pieces of equipment in your facility will ultimately become a coat rack.”

With the proper planning to execute your vision, you should be able to repurpose an unused space or update your facility to attract new populations. The end goal should be delivering a great experience to a wide array of members — but a welcome side effect will be maximizing your facility’s income per square foot.

“You want to create a space that isn’t just a ‘wow’ factor, but allows a coach to create an experience for each and everyone who walks into the room,” said Gibson. “Be deliberate, have a vision and focus on your mission, and you will have no problem maximizing your income per square foot.”

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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