Challenges, but more importantly, OPPORTUNITIES within the Fitness Equipment Industry

Admittedly, I’m two months late, but happy 2024! For the most part Covid is behind us, and we have quite a lot to be looking forward to. To (re)introduce myself, my name is Dan Thompson, founder of Huff-n-Puff Fitness Repair. Having been in the fitness equipment repair industry since 2007, we’ve seen numerous ups and downs, some changes for the better, some for the worse, and everything in between.


The “Covid surge,” put an immense amount of strain on many industries, including our own. As such, some cracks began to show. This would have happened regardless, but we look at Covid as the catalyst that quickly brought these issues front and center. As these issues became apparent, we voiced our concern and suggestions to the manufacturers we work with. Most of the time our concerns were heard, and adjustments were made to find an appropriate solution for all involved. Naturally, by working together, service providers and manufacturers can provide a much better end-to-end experience for their customers.


Let’s face it, no matter how well a machine is built, it is merely a machine, and it will fail at some point in time. Service will be required, and the better we can work together on behalf of our mutual customers, the happier our customers will be. No matter what your motivation is, whether it be to provide the best customer experience possible, to maximize the bottom line, or a combination of both, it is in everyone’s best interest for service providers and manufacturers to work together. Only then will we be able to provide the most seamless service experience possible.


In preparation for IHRSA 2024, I started reaching out to other fitness equipment repair professionals. Our industry is young, having only been around about 50 years. It is inspiring to see others out there, who like us, believe our industry could be better, and should be better, to better serve our customers and our employees. At the same time, I was also shocked to find there were other like-minded service providers out there. In hindsight, that was shortsighted of me to not realize this, so I spent some time thinking back as to why I was under this impression. In retrospect, I realized that the reason we felt like we were alone in our way of thinking, is because when we brought up some of these concerns with manufacturers, they acted like we were speaking a different language. We could hear it in the voice on the other end of the phone. We could see it in the email responses we received. Ultimately, we realized our suggestions were falling on deaf ears considering the concerns we brought up were never addressed, despite our proposed simple, easily implemented solutions.


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting specific obstacles that exist within our industry. Most, if not all, of these obstacles seem unnecessary and ultimately lessen the customer experience. We believe most of these could be resolved with relatively small changes that would each make a profound improvement in the level of customer service that service providers and manufacturers can provide to their customers. In each example, a small time/effort investment up front will set service cases up for a huge time/effort savings on the back end.


To be clear, the objective here is not to cast stones, but rather to bring to light our experiences, our service model, and ultimately, to show how service providers and manufacturers can all work better together. As such, we will not be listing these manufacturers by name publicly. However, when our customers inquire as to why we are unable to provide the service we are obligated to provide to them, we owe it to them to be honest and forthcoming regarding the obstacles we are experiencing with their manufacturers.


Once again, we’re not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but we are no longer willing to accept the blame for the shortcomings of others, that could be avoided so easily. As things change, and as improvements are made, we look forward to being able to update these with resolutions. Open dialogues are important, we encourage comments from customers, other service providers, and especially from the manufacturers themselves.


Last, and most importantly, I would like to thank the other like-minded industry professionals I’ve spoken with who have identified many of the same issues. Jeff “Esto” Estopellan has been a wonderful ally for years, going to bat for us with manufacturers as he fully understands all sides of this industry. Ruben Hand recently wrote a great blog article about the positives of our industry, and how we are grateful for the opportunities that we have. Adam Niffen hosts an outstanding podcast Fix Your Gym focused on the repair side of the fitness equipment industry. Scott Jennings was a guest on Fix Your Gym with a great episode that touched on some of the difficulties we face as service providers and what we can do to improve our situation.


Once more, an open dialogue is encouraged. What obstacles have you encountered, and what changes would you like to see within this industry?


We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and looking forward to improving this industry by working TOGETHER!

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