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Entries in downtown (1)


How to Measure Your Geographic Demographic in a Downtown, Urban Area

While health clubs in suburban areas measure their geographic demographic by drive time, clubs in urban areas have a different challenge. (Photo: B Tal)Rick Caro and Mike Motta discuss how to guage the range of a health club's target market in a downtown, urban setting in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "We're opening up a club downtown in a big city. Most guides to opening a club talking about 'drive time,' but most people will walk or take public transportation to our location. Is there a standard "walk time?" What other characteristics make up a great downtown location?" 

A: The question is how to define a club's market in a downtown urban location. First, the key is to determine if there is adequate parking and at a very inexpensive (if not free) price. If no such overwhelmingly impressive parking exists, then one uses walk-times instead of drive-times. The same timeframes are used (8 and 12-minute marks) in 8 different directions (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW) and done only at prime-times during the week days. Both residential and daytime marketplaces are studied.

Rick Caro, President
Management Vision, Inc.

A: The standard walk time is typically no different than the drive time – around 15 minutes. In urban areas because your customers do walk the exposure to weather is key. If your location is within a building or cluster of buildings, it is important that they can walk safely, easily and even better without putting on their coats or popping up their umbrellas. Proximity to the busiest elevator banks is also helpful and if public transportation is popular enough for your members, proximity to the bus stops, train stations or parking lots helps you expand market reach and eliminates another barrier to joining and frequent utilization.

Other characteristics that also add value to urban locations are:

  • Street level sight lines that attract interest by allowing a glimpse of the activity within but do not make Members feel like fish in a bowl.
  • Natural light and lots of it.
  • Outdoor areas, albeit small and rare, are also features worth exploring. Like a big city apartment with a courtyard or a roof deck, having a place to enjoy the great outdoors in the heart of downtown is always a unique feature. 
  • Convenient access to grab a quick lunch, smoothie or snack. Most downtowns have many and planning your access points to take advantage of this convenience will save your Members time.

Mike Motta
Plus One