Many Strength and Conditioning Coaches have high aspirations of one day opening their own facilities. The thought of a nice building, fancy equipment, and a loyal client base are all elements of the entrepreneurial spirit. However, before the doors swing open, your celebrity clientele arrive, and your first months rent payment is due, there are several things you need to consider. Below are five steps that I acted on and understood before the doors at Donskov Strength and Conditioning were ever opened. I hope these intangible elements can help you in your quest to one day open the doors of your own facility....
As business owners and Strength Coaches, we each have our own philosophy, system(s) and operations procedures. Each business model is a system of unique parts that make up the whole. Without systems, chaos is inevitable. We are all in the business because we have a passion in helping others reach their true potential, but we also have to turn a profit to keep the doors open. I have always had the belief that a business plan/philosophy and strength and conditioning philosophy should be separate entities. Don’t let your business plan run your training plan! What do I mean by this? I have provided several examples below.
Youth Training: I couldn’t count on my fingers and toes how many conversations I’ve had with parents saying, “My seven year old is an amazing athlete. We want to get him/her ready for next years hockey tryouts, do you offer any programs for this age group?” I could make a healthy living doing Athletic Development Programs for seven year olds, but it conflicts with my training philosophy. I believe in early generalization, late specialization. Let Tommy and Jane play multiple sports and come back to speak with me in five years. Putting adult values on childhood activities is dangerous. Unfortunately many times parents dream on behalf of their children.
Student/Instructor Ratio: I train large groups of athletes. Regardless of coaching education/experience, two sets of eyes are ALWAYS better than one. I have set a training philosophy for a student/instructor ratio of 9:1. This is an area that I need to improve. I hired an intern last November and it has been an amazing experience to say the least. My goal is to build a reputable internship program and hire a full time coach in the immediate future. Our goal as business owners is to expand the business and reach multiple populations, but we shouldn’t do so at the expense/quality of our product and the safety of our athletes. My grandfather always said: “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”
Competing Programs: I have been approached several times in the past by multi-sport athletes wanting to participate both in a DSC Athletic Development Program while simultaneously participating in a strength and conditioning program at their respective high school. I don’t like this for several reasons:
Not enough adequate recovery
Control: I can’t control the coaching OR lack of coaching, and the protocol performed in a facility away from me (technical proficiency, Olympic Lifts, heavy back squatting ect). I don’t want this mixed with my program…. PERIOD!
Results: I want tangible results for my clients/athletes. I want them to look at their 12-week program and see how strong, powerful they have gotten. I can’t guarantee results in a program being performed (in conjunction with mine) that I have NO control over.
Parents: At DSC, parents are not permitted to view workouts. It is my training philosophy. Most parents I deal with are awesome, but on occasion I am confronted with a situation where parents want to watch their kids train! I will make this analogy: “Mr. Johnson what do you do for a living? Oh you are a dentist? Would you mind if I sat over your shoulder and watched you pull teeth all day? Would your clients mind?” The problem with parents watching workouts is that coaches are competing for attention. A Coach needs FULL attention. I have never had to do this, but if a parent still had a problem with this, I would suggest another facility for their son/daughter to train in.
I have always had the belief that a business philosophy should not dictate a training philosophy. If you don’t have a passion for what you do, you will be exposed sometime in the future. Passionate people are contagious! We all want to build a profitable, reputable business, but we can’t sacrifice quality in order to attain it! Systems rule in business, just make sure your business system and training system remain separate entities.
Anthony Donskov, MS, CSCS, PES is a former collegiate and professional hockey player, founder of Donskov Strength and Conditioning, Inc., (www.donskovsc.com) and Head Instructor/Director of Strength and Conditioning for Donskov Hockey Development (www.donskovhockey.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .