Aron Cavette’s passion for owning a gym started almost fifteen years ago when he became a NASM personal trainer and began working with clients at various globo gyms.

Along the way, he found CrossFit, became a Level 1 CrossFit coach and had visions of opening a CrossFit gym. At the time, there weren’t any affiliates in his hometown of Salem, Oregon, so his plan was to serve in Iraq with the National Guard for a year and then come home to Oregon and open a gym.

But by the time he got home from Iraq, two CrossFit had already popped up in Salem, “and I didn’t think the city would be able to support a third yet,” he said.

So he started working at one of the existing gyms instead.

In 2012, Cavette moved to Mahoney CrossFit in Salem, which has since rebranded to Iron Phoenix Athletics—a long-time Madlab Group client that first opened in 2010.

Life as a coach was good, thanks to the Madlab model, Cavette explained, a model that paid him on a percentage of revenue basis for all his clients, where he had “free range to do what I needed to do and full autonomy over my schedule,” he said. 

Recently, after 11 years of coaching, the opportunity came up for him to take over the business and finally fulfilling his desire to own a gym, so he jumped at it. How hard could it be?

A Tall Task

Though Cavette has been in the fitness industry for 15 years, he admitted making the switch from coach to owner was way more challenging than he expected.

“There have been so many unforeseen challenges. I really thought I had a solid plan and knew exactly what I would do, but there have been so many little things, even like switching services like Zen Planner and Train Heroic from one business to another without losing all the data. It is harder than you would think,” he said. 

Having Madlab Mentor Audrey Patterson in his corner throughout this process, who he has been meeting with every other week, “has been a lifesaver,” he said. 

Not only has she helped with problem-solving the small challenges, “She has really helped me take a step back and look at the bigger picture, helped me be more forward-thinking,” he said. 

Beyond this, being an owner has changed everything for Cavette, in that he now is in full control without anyone to answer to, a situation he thinks could easily lead to “not getting things done,” he said. In this sense, having a business mentor has both provided an all-important sounding board, and helped him “with accountability,” he said. 

“When you’re the boss, if you’re not always looking at things and asking questions, if you aren’t constantly keeping tabs on things and keeping up with your checklist, it’s easy to not get a lot done, so she has done a great job of helping me establish what I need to do and what I need to prioritize,” he said. 

Finally, Patterson has helped Cavette come up with a future plan, one that includes developing his coaches to a place where the business can run if he’s away for whatever reason.

So far so good: Since taking over the business four months ago, Cavette, who retained the two part-time coaches who were coached at the gym under the previous owner, has already taken a new coach through the Madlab Junior Apprentice program, a program he has seen evolve over the years.

“There have been several iterations of the apprentice program, and where it’s at now is the best version I have ever seen. There’s so much information in there,” he said, adding that the program helped his new coach quickly get to a place where she’s ready to build her business. 

“She’s in a place where she can start to handle a lot of people, so that’s exciting, so the goal this year is to help her grow,” he said, adding that he hopes to increase his membership base by 20 percent this year. 

Cavette’s advice for other coaches looking to transition into ownership is not to try to do it alone.

“I definitely recommend taking the time to talk to a Madlab implementation manager. Audrey knows so much, and knew so much about things I had never even considered in the process,” he said. 

And after that, you need to be prepared to work really hard, he added.

“Be prepared to really put your head down and power through because it’s a lot of work, and you need to be ready for it. But it’s totally worth the challenge. It’s very rewarding,” he said. 

To learn more about Madlab and how we might be able to help you, book a call now.

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