Club Insider

Follow These Six Critical Steps Before Designing a New Club or Renovation

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Bruce CarterBruce Carter

Whether you are opening a new higher-price club, a low-price model, a specialty/boutique club or plan to renovate an existing club, design is more important than ever in contributing to a club's success. Most clubs are costing more per square foot to build than ever. The days of a mid-level club costing $40 - $60 per square foot are being replaced by $50 - $80 and more per square foot. Many boutique clubs are in the $100 - $250 square foot range to build, and renovations follow this upward pattern. As a result of these trends, it is imperative to take key steps before designing a new club or renovating an existing club.

What is driving the increased costs? First is the obvious rising costs of building materials and labor, but that is not the only reason. The overall image and inviting environments of clubs are having to be better than ever. Getting a "WOW" or "OMG" response from members and guests alike should be the goal, no matter what your budgets are. Yet, so many clubs still fall behind with average presentations. The critical steps involve asking a number of right questions that will lead to increased success.

The first critical step is obvious but often done inadequately, and that is: create a plan. Start by asking these questions. How will your design affect profits? Know specifically how the design you create will affect revenues and profits. Will you add more revenue-producing programs and need the space to do so? Are you offering the most "in demand" facilities and programs? Do you want to have higher dues or to increase dues in an existing club? If so, how will the design help justify the higher amounts?

Second, ask the question, "How will your design make you stand out from the designs of your competitors?" Is there new competition and you want your club to stay competitive and maintain profits (which can be a solid plan)? Or, or are you planning to stand out from the crowd?

The third step is being aware of the latest design trends in clubs and the hospitality business in general. What will be your colors, lighting and finishes? Will you have a turf area or go with the increasing popular LVT (luxury vinyl tile) for cardio and machine areas? One of the best ways to get a start on this step is to Goggle a variety of things, such as, "health club design, fitness center design, locker room design" and then go to images. Lots of ideas come from this productive approach. Make sure to check out your competition, especially if there are any new clubs or renovations in your market. Obviously, designers and architects who specialize in clubs can make a significant difference. Whatever your visual end result is, it should stand out and get people talking about your design. If you are renovating, the renovation should make the club look significantly different. Why go through the trouble of change unless it really looks like changes have happened? Why open a new club without it looking dramatically different than what is currently in the market place?

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