Owner’s Manual: Andrea Fagundes of Athletic Perfection

In our “Owner’s Manual” column, we ask gym owners to take us “under the hood” and give us their secrets to what keeps their gyms running so smoothly. Find out how Andrea Fagundes and her co-owners at Athletic Perfection handled the transition from small gym to large gym in style:

Vital Stats:

Name: Andrea Fagundes, co-owner (with Jennifer Moore and gym founder Julie Van Os)

Gym: Athletic Perfection Cheer

Location: Tracy, California

Founded: 2003

Size: Eight all-star teams and two all-star prep teams

Gym size: Approximately 6,000 square feet

Debrief: Last summer, Athletic Perfection hit a peak number of 115 athletes—the most the gym has had in its 10 years and a growth of more than 30 percent from the previous season. We spoke with co-owner Fagundes about how her gym is handling the exponential growth—and how they plan to ride the wave of success.

The Dish:

As the class sizes started to grow, Julie realized she couldn’t do it alone, so Jennifer and I came on as partners in May 2012. The biggest thing for the three of us has been to find a balance as far as our respective areas of expertise. In general, I work as the all-star teams director, choreographer, curriculum director and head of merchandise design. Jennifer works on all finance and sales. Julie is call director, along with working on advertising, marketing and choreography. We hold regularly scheduled weekly meetings, which are crucial because they allow us to openly discuss any issues. They also give us time to inform each other of what’s been happening on our end during that week.

Being 100% upfront and organized has been a huge key to our growth. Calendars, conferences and emails are how we stay focused. The three of us had an eight-hour meeting in December during which we planned our entire calendar for 2013. Now we know when picture day is and what days we are open; we have a clear picture of what we need and what we have to offer. The worst thing is for a new face to walk into your gym, and you don’t have an answer for them or a way to keep them in your program. Staying super-organized means that when prospective customers call, we have schedules and dates to share—and they can immediately join a class, team or camp.

Being organized also ensures that, when the gym opens at 5 pm, it’s not a crazy madhouse but instead organized chaos! There are times where it does start to feel a bit crowded in the gym, so we always communicate who will be working—especially during busy hours.

Even as we grow, it’s important to maintain a high level of personal attention. Just like schools have parent-teacher conferences, we offer monthly owner-parent-coach conferences. The gym will not run smoothly if parents are talking about issues among themselves, so we open up the window of conversation. When parents have something they want to address, they can sign up for a 10-minute time slot. The three of us take turns each month [meeting with parents]. We also make sure that at least one owner is available at all times to communicate with parents and kids during business hours.

One of my top pieces of advice would be to never be afraid of having these face-to-face conversations. I probably have meetings once a week with an athlete or a parent. So much of what goes on is usually caused by miscommunication and things getting taken out of context. Ask the parent and see what’s going on—that way, they feel they can get on an even level with you. You get a real read of the struggles an athlete might be facing.

Each staff member is encouraged to choose different athletes each practice and praise them so they know that their work is being noticed. We hand out “You Rock!” postcards, and behind the scenes, we keep detailed binders on each athlete. If we see athletes that haven’t received one in a few months, we do our best to recognize them so they don’t go a whole season without receiving some sort of affirmation.

With more athletes in the equation, it’s important to take a heavier hand in helping them and letting them know that they are part of a family. One of the biggest rewards has been seeing decals for our gym on cars or seeing girls wearing our logo—just knowing that they love Athletic Perfection.