There’s a lot to think about when considering a new website. And rightfully so, because it’s a key tool in your gym growth toolbox.
As we talked about in last week’s blog post, your website is the online version of your gym so it’s not a decision you should make without careful consideration.
Maybe you’ve asked some of these same questions… “Should I save the money and build it myself with a plug-n-play service like SquareSpace or Wix?”; “Should I hire a friend/family member/gym member?”; or “Should I invest the money and go with the well-known professional option?”. It’s hard to know as a gym owner how much you should pay for your website, who you should hire, and what you actually need for your website to do it’s job well. With so many expenses going out the door, it’s easy to want to cut costs wherever possible, and a website is no exception.
Problem is, many people decide on a website service company only “hoping” they’ve made the right decision. But as you’ve likely heard before, hope is never a strategy. And the honest truth is – as with most things in life – when it comes down to having a solid, performing website, you get what you pay for.
Full disclosure, one of the things we do well is create websites… really strong, dynamic, cutting edge websites for the CrossFit and gym industry. But we are just one option you have. So, this is an honest, no salesy attempt at giving you a guide when making your website service provider decision.
Let’s look at your options with pros and cons. Then, fwiw, we’ll give our opinion on each based on our experience.
#1 – Build it Yourself with a Plug-n-Play Tool
Pros: inexpensive; quick; learn something new; sense of accomplishment; flexibility to make changes whenever you want
Cons: time consuming; doesn’t work properly; hard to know if you’ve done it right; little SEO integration (your website needs to actually show up when people search); may look unprofessional; will eventually need an experienced professional; low upfront costs, high long-term costs
Our down and dirty opinion: Simply put, a website is too important a tool to build yourself if you have limited to no experience. The plug-n-play options are quick and easy, and cheap, but much like stopping at McDonald’s for lunch… even though it’s cheap and easy, it offers very little value.
#2 – Hire a Family Member/ Friend/ Gym Member to Build Your Website for You
Pros: potentially less expensive upfront costs; they know you and you trust them
Cons: if you’re paying less, you’re most likely not a high priority to them, therefore, typically is a longer timeline to launch;they may or may not understand the CrossFit industry; hard to “fire” them
Our down and dirty opinion: It’s always tricky to hire someone you know well. It becomes hard to push them to meet timelines when you know they have other things going on and they’re cutting you a break on costs. Expectations are high and the ability to “fire” them without significantly harming the relationship, typically goes out the window. If you choose this option, make sure you spell out all expectations very clearly in writing.
#3 – Hire a Designer to Build Your Website for You
Pros: website will look pretty; you won’t have to struggle with learning to do it yourself
Cons: will cost you more; may have little to no back-end capabilities
Our down and dirty opinion: Your website is not and should not just be a pretty front door; the purpose of your website is to sell something! Be sure the company you hire understands the real purpose of your website. Here’s how you know a good website… when visiting it, do you say “wow, that’s a cool website”, or “man, I want to buy that product or service.”
#4 – Hire a Professional Website Company to Build Your Site
Pros: establishes your professionalism as a gym; access to a professional who can create landing pages, add content, create code, manage backend, etc.; stay up-to-date with technological changes; all security, hosting, daily backups, maintenance are done for you so you can have peace of mind; confidence that your website is a powerful tool that works for you 24 hours a day; can fire them if they are not performing as expected
Cons: will most likely be a bigger initial financial investment than any of the other options (but will save you money in the long-term by being set-up correctly and attracting business)
Our down and dirty opinion: Of course given all the pro’s and con’s of all the options this would be our recommended choice for you. Your website is too important a tool to pursue in a half-hearted manner. Whether you choose us, or another company, just make sure you ask (and feel comfortable with) the answers to the questions below before making a decision and hiring them.
11 questions to ask when considering hiring someone to build your website:
- How long has the company been in business? How many websites have they built? Any company who’s been building websites for 5+ years has ample experience to build you a great site. You want to know that they have a long list of satisfied customers, and that your experience with them will be no different.
- Do they understand the fitness, specifically the CrossFit, industry? Any design firm can build a website… what you want is someone who knows the intricacies of the industry.
- What’s their reputation in the CrossFit industry – have people heard of them and do they have good things to say about them? Are other people who’ve used them pleased with the level of service they’ve received/are receiving? You want your website/marketing company to be tried and true and working with satisfied customers.
- Do you like their business website and is it easy to understand/navigate? If not, this is a big red flag.
- Are they creative, or is your site a theme that’s going to look just like the guy/girl’s down the street if they use the same company? Your potential member is going to search all websites in your area. You want yours to stand out from the crowd, not be a mirror image of your competition’s website.
- Is it easy to get in touch with their support team? Do they respond quickly? If it’s hard to get ahold of them prior to hiring them, just think what it’ll be like once they “have” you on the hook.
- Do you have access to make changes to the website yourself? Without this, you are at their mercy to make any and all changes to your site.
- If you leave them, do you get to keep your website? This is a BIG factor to consider. You invest a good amount of money, your site should be yours and not their “proprietary” possession.
- How do they keep your site up-to-date with all the rapid changes in technology? Do they keep your site current, or is it one and done? For example, find out if they provide a new site (at no extra charge) every 2-3 years… this is important.
- Can your site integrate with your member management system? Do they know how to configure the API so that the different systems talk with one another?
- Do you like them/enjoy talking with them? You need to work closely with the company for at least 6-8 weeks, if you don’t enjoy conversation with them, you won’t be as motivated to be involved in the process.
Gone are the days when you can get away with a mediocre website. The industry is changing so rapidly and becoming more “professional” every day that in order to keep up and outpace your competition, your website needs to be a powerful tool for growth.
If you don’t know where to turn, we can help. We’ll do a free website audit for you and answer any questions you might have. Use this link to schedule a call with us.
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