2020-2021: New Gyms, Closings, And Acquisitions

Discussion in 'Allstar Cheerleading' started by CoachTamara, May 20, 2020.

  1. CoachTamara

    CoachTamara Slow your roll, Sparkle.

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    Agree with ALL of that, coming from a parent. At this point, I really don’t care if my kid wins. I’d probably prefer she didn’t win, because she is young enough to keep getting participation medals and it’s the WORST. She thinks she’s great at everything.
    Location matters. We’ve been driving 35 minutes and now with her moving up we simply can’t keep doing the commute multiple times during the week. The gym has been great, but it’s just not something that fits in our schedule.
    Kids also want to be where their friends are, which is normally close to home.
    The hardest part of Covid for a lot of gyms I think will be the fact they may not have built that same connection they normally would have and it’ll be easier for people to leave. A lot of parents haven’t made friends with other parents, and it’s not hard to leave when nobody is causing you to stay.
     
  2. Knowcheering

    Knowcheering Somewhere... some one.... is giving me a slow clap

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    Money. To make more money with minimal effort or involvement.

    To make money. Some gyms are more involved in their satellite locations than others, but realistically, they have limited time, resources, and emotional energy available to spend on someone else's gym, especially if it's in another state. It's easy to spread yourself too thin.

    If a gym's satellite location is successful, they might act like that success is their own even if they didn't really have anything to do with it, and if their satellite location isn't so good, we may never hear a word about it. Either way, they're still making money, and the satellite gym is happy they come from the "same gym" as a famous Large Coed team that trains thousands of miles away.

    It's not a bad thing for a mega gym to take over a small collapsing program. Having a mega gym in a non-traditional cheerleading area might bring more awareness to the sport. But you'd have to be a little gullible to think "MegaGym-Minnesota" really has anything to do with "MegaGym-Texas". Coaches can't be in two states at once, and all gyms are different based on location. This isn't like an Olive Garden chain where you get the exact same spaghetti in Ohio that you get in Florida. I'm thinking the business operations might run more similarly across a gym's multiple locations than the actual cheerleading side.

    Some of it depends on the quality of program you're acquiring. Top Gun Orlando is associated with the former Orlando Allstars (if I'm recalling correctly). They were already very strong before Top Gun got there; they had one of the best Small Senior teams. Cheer Corp also had a good Worlds team, but they weren't as strong as Orlando AS. So it's not necessarily that Top Gun put more effort into their satellite gym than Brandon did, they may have just inherited a stronger program to begin with. There are a lot of factors involved.

    Fans measure a gym's success based on how their Worlds teams are doing and whatnot, but you can be successful financially without having results too. As we always hear, it's a business. But I'm curious about the long-term future of a competitive sport where the number of different programs is dwindling.
     
  3. 123jump4!

    123jump4! Slow your roll, Sparkle.

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    Star Athletics outside of Atlanta location did really good in their first season. I’d probably take my kid there if it wasn’t almost an hour away and our current gym 7 mins.
     
  4. Knowcheering

    Knowcheering Somewhere... some one.... is giving me a slow clap

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    Yeah they were stronger than their main location, which is pretty unusual, especially since it's their first year. But with most of the Atlanta Jayhawks + their coaches going there, it's not surprising. Jayhawks were strong in the lower levels for years. So it's not always tiny struggling gyms that go through a name change, it happens to bigger gyms that are seemingly doing well too. Someone here said only 1 Jayhawks location is still open, but it seems they still have 2. I don't think I saw any teams from the second location this season though.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  5. 123jump4!

    123jump4! Slow your roll, Sparkle.

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    Yeah. Jayhawks Grayson location did the best and I think they lost most of the gym to Star. I think they had just one team this season, Blaze J1 I think. Duluth is still open but doesn’t usually do that well.
     
  6. oncecoolcoachnowmom

    oncecoolcoachnowmom Bestest Newbie '14

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    Yep. There is a 1% of people who are incredibly serious about cheer and will drive anywhere. People think everyone is like that because we follow it and that is what we see on the interwebs. The Worlds Kids or higher level kids driving super far are in the minority.

    (Exception is if they live in a rural place where everything is far and there are no local options. Sometimes you have to drive to get to ANY gym.)

    But your average suburban parent in Midwestern Town USA cares about convenience so they're asking:

    1. How many times do I need to take them?
    2. How far?
    3. How long?
    4. What time?
    5. How much money?
    6. Are they going to have friends there?
    7. Are these people nice or are they rude to my kid?
    8. Is this going to have me driving all across God's green earth?

    That impacts gym survival especially when there are other options.

    Example:

    Susan in Tumbleweed has a 8 year old new to cheer. She can choose between Mega Elite and Tumbleweed Rec Cheer.

    Mega Elite is new and she has seen a ton of posts about it and its Summit teams at other locations getting people excited. They are starting out with Mini/Youth Prep and some L1-3 half year teams. It's 30 min away but requires the freeway during rush hour. Youth Prep is for new kiddos to cheer but it practices M/W/F from 4-6 . Her kiddo knows one kid from school who is there and they may not even be on same team. The Prep Team has 3-5 comps which is cool but a few of them are a hour or more away on weekends. Their end of year comp is out of state. Mega Elite also may have extra practice on Sat and Susan works that day. Also that uniform looks expensive to Susan and clinics arer a full week. It also requires purchase of two outfits. Susan finds that excessive.

    In contrast, Tumbleweed Rec practices at her child's school M/W 3:00-4:15. It practices at the school where her child already attends. No extra driving except for 6 games which are all about 30 min away and 2 comps an hour away in Big City. The team at Tumbleweed has 5 kids from her kid's class at school on it. A neighbor has offered to pick her kid up for games if Susan has to work. It costs $250.

    The choice for Midwest Susan is probably going to be Tumbleweed just because it's more convenient for now.

    Disclaimer - I know every Mega Gym is different but same goes for choosing Gym A v. Gym B. The most convenient will win in many markets.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  7. Knowcheering

    Knowcheering Somewhere... some one.... is giving me a slow clap

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    Yeah I would think most kids who are very young and new to cheer go to whatever gym is near their house. They see cheer as another after-school activity, not something they're super serious about yet. Plenty of parents commute to work and don't want/can't do a cheer commute on top of that.
     
  8. TUMBLR

    TUMBLR They call me Susie

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    I’m loving everyone’s replies on this topic! It’s really eye opening for me to hear the parents on this thread chime in on the criteria they use to pick a gym. I’m left a little conflicted though… I don’t mean to drag this out so thanks for being so helpful but it’s nice to learn about the ins and outs of acquisitions.
    I still have some questions.

    According to most of the parents they use the following criteria to pick a program in their area:

    1. Location/Convenience
    2. Price
    3. Staff

    Well just playing devils advocate here but wouldn’t most of these things be largely unaffected by an acquisition? I mean, wouldn’t tumbleweed town allstars typically retain their old facility, pricing structure and most of their old staff? (For the most part. I mean no drastic changes are usually happening to these things)
    And if that’s the case then what’s the argument for slapping a brand new World Cup logo on their front door? After all, a lot of the tutu tumbling, birthday parties and mommy & me classes are going to attract customers if they had just kept on being tumbleweed town allstars, right? Those people don’t care what name is on the front. So let’s say Tumbleweed town allstars is thriving financially then the ONLY reason they have for taking on a franchise deal would be to attract the talent pools from other local programs and make even more money. Let’s say they’re NOT thriving financially then the ONLY reason that I can imagine they’d take on a franchise deal is to once again attract talent from these other local programs and keep their doors open, right? What other reason would they have to take on a new name if not to attract more athletes from local programs? Especially if their operations are remaining mostly the same beyond just the name.
    We have established that parents don’t really care about the name on the front of the door because they use a different criteria to select a program for their cp and we’ve established that most parents who are new to cheer aren’t really familiar with the different programs so what’s the incentive there for Tumbleweed Town allstars to take on a new identity?

    Let’s be real, if these kids and parents at these other local programs switch over to the newly rebranded World Cup tumbleweed town location then it would only be because their old gym wasn’t as successful at competitions, right? I mean Tumbleweed Town allstars has always been there so what was stopping them from going there before the acquisition? Because like I said earlier there wouldn’t be a ton of wholesale change happening at World Cup Tumbleweed town besides the name. So the expectation here from these new customers is that World Cup is taking over Tumbleweed and is funneling in what makes their main location so great in order to deliver that to the Tumbleweed town market and attract these athletes from these other gyms. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. If parents don’t really care about the name on the front of the door or the number of titles being won then why are these mega gyms entering these new markets and these old gyms allowing themselves to be acquired? Location, price, and staff aren’t going to change drastically so what’s the incentive here?

    My theory is that these mega gyms know that with a new fancy name on the front of these old facilities there will be a small exodus from those other local programs which will make this old program money and the only reason those people would leave their old program is because they’re expecting a certain product that couldn’t be delivered at their current program which is competitive success. Am I making sense or is that crazy to think?

    Now okay let’s just imagine that I’m right and the main incentive for franchises to expand is to attract local talent by convincing them that World Cup is coming to their town and they should be super excited to win championships and leave their current program then the question still remains: Okay you have a few new athletes who said they’d never cheer at Tumbleweed town allstars, even though they’re closer to home, because their teams never do well at competitions but decide they’ll make an exception for World Cup Tumbleweed Town. These athletes and parents also care enough about cheer to know the World Cup name and decide to leave their old gym and try it out… GREAT successful acquisition. More money less problems! But wait a second… The athletes slowly but surely realize that this is just Tumbleweed Town allstars with a new name which is what we’ve seen with most of these satellite programs at competitions besides the few stingray and rockstar locations mentioned above regarding summit placements. I’ve also experienced it firsthand with the Top Gun Orlando acquisition. It was still Orlando Allstars. When I was there they were using most of the same coaches, same techniques, same conditioning, (Orlando allstars used to use top gun choreographers for their worlds teams before the acquisition anyway) same choreographers too. But different location, and different uniforms.

    So it brings me back to square one. Okay if you’re not ensuring that these other programs are as closely matched to your main location then why do you continue to expand? Like won’t people start to see through the facade and sooner or later these acquisitions won’t mean anything to these local parents and athletes and Tumbleweed Town allstars will be right back where they started financially?

    But then someone said money is the main motivator which makes a ton more sense to me but I still have to wonder if that’s a good long term plan because, like I said above, in terms of brand integrity won’t these local parents and athletes who care about rankings like we do start to see through these acquisitions sooner or later? Which means they’ll go back to the gym that’s better priced and more convenient and these mega gyms won’t have much financial incentive to keep expanding?

    So from a business perspective, beyond all the cheer nonsense, this still doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Like okay, these mega gyms acquire these small gyms when they’re in a bad place financially and get these small gyms to feed them more money and the small gym gets to attract more athletes with the new name. A fix and flip if you will… but the foundation of the house is still the same because the small gym trains their athletes the exact same way they did before and it all comes tumbling down eventually at competition and now the small gym is still in a bad place financially because mom decides to take her cp back to the more convenient gym in the area.
    I still think it makes more sense to focus on expanding your vision in its entirety to ONE satellite location before moving on and continuing to expand like some of these Mega gyms do. But I could be wrong.

    Genuinely curious here and ready to learn. Thanks again. I know my posts are super long winded. My brain is so scrambled at this point working through this in my head. I also know it doesn’t matter because these mega gyms will continue to expand regardless but at least I don’t need to be baffled every time it happens or perhaps I do. Idk.
     
  9. oncecoolcoachnowmom

    oncecoolcoachnowmom Bestest Newbie '14

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    Well, what you're describing does happen sometimes - merger/takeover to revive brand and bring in consumers.

    You're always going to see an initial influx of athletes departing Small Elite for Mega Gym - Tumbleweed Location because it's new, they're knowledgeable about cheer, and they know that Mega is a competitive brand.

    The key is keeping things going after the initial sign ups.

    That's likely why some locations don't last. Because like you said, it only takes one or 2 seasons to realize that they want to go back to Small Elite because because this is really just Tumbleweed with a Mega Gym logo on it.
     
  10. BlueCat

    BlueCat Roses are red, cats are blue National Champion

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    Like many topics, expansion of mega-gyms is polarizing and most people tend to view everything through a particular lens. People (like me) will tend to see it in a positive light and can talk about the benefits and virtues (training/marketing/choreo/economies of scale/shared experiences/business systems/etc). However, that is naturally the lens I am going to view it. Others will view it as just greed on a path to monopolies and will talk about the negatives, compare gyms to Wal Mart destroying family stores, etc. I would suggest you consider the source - on both sides. There are positives and negatives. The "truth" is probably somewhere in the middle.

    Also, the experiences between a particular location and brand is not going to be the same as the others. There are pretty significant differences in how much collaboration happens among the different brands. Also, multi-location brands are a fairly new phenomenon and the biggest cheer gym "chain" is still fairly tiny in the "real" business world. Some mistakes have been made and some brands have learned a lot and improved over the years.

    There are reasons that "chain" or multi-location restaurants/stores can be really popular, whether you are talking the Walmart/McDonalds market or more of Apple/Nordstroms end. There are also reasons why many people prefer locally-owned completely independent boutique type businesses. There is room in the market for both types.
     
  11. Knowcheering

    Knowcheering Somewhere... some one.... is giving me a slow clap

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    Plenty of kids proudly write MegaGym Allstars in their social media bios, regardless of what their team looks like or if they're thousands of miles away from the gym's world champion location. Some kids like the status that comes from being with a champion gym, even if it's a satellite location that has little to do with the champion gym. Even if you just plop a new famous name on an already existing program and the coaches are the same and the program is mostly the same, they still feel like they're on a different status level. It reminds me a little of brand name clothing, kids think they're cool if they're wearing certain brands. Are their clothes necessarily better than other less popular brands, maybe yes maybe no. I'm guessing the biggest thing gyms gain by surrendering to a mega gym is more financial stability rather than a lot of changes cheerleading-wise. Is Top Gun Orlando much better than Orlando Allstars was, no probably not. Orlando was already great before the takeover. But maybe they have more financial security now (or whatever else they were looking for), and some of the kids probably love being from a more famous gym, the same gym as TGLC... sort of.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  12. TUMBLR

    TUMBLR They call me Susie

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    This is actually a really good point! I’m not exactly sure how long the illusion of this will last but you make a really good point nonetheless. Evidently most of these satellites are still standing so there must be some weight to this. Thanks for the reply.
     
  13. CoachTamara

    CoachTamara Slow your roll, Sparkle.

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    I can give you my perspective, although I know it is very personalized to just my family. I hope you are all ready for a novel.

    We live in an area that has a few very small gyms, but some very talented gyms that are 30-45 minutes away. Where we are located, driving to them all requires going through downtown and basically a traffic nightmare. I predict that 30-45 minute drive would easily be about an hour and a half.

    I am a coach. I was a gym owner before my daughter was born, and I now coach a high school. I keep up with all star and love cheer more than anything else besides my family. It is in my blood, I will likely coach the rest of my life. I am on my seventh year of coaching a local high school, and my daughter just turned seven. She knows no life without cheerleading. She did a year of rec cheer which we all hated, and loves to spend time with my teams and attend competitions.

    When I cheered back in the dark ages, I drove 4 hours round trip to my gym. This was back in the day when that was completely unheard of... But I was a kid that had a full and wanted to be on a big, talented team. It was 100% the best decision I ever made, and I feel a very, very deep sense of loyalty to that gym for everything it gave me, even though it has changed owners.

    One of the smaller but very successful D2 gyms in our area announced they were becoming a franchise of my old gym, and suddenly I did not care about the drive. There were coaches coming in that I knew and trusted, and it was not even a question of signing her up-drive and costs be damned. Although they were very successful under their old name (Summit wins even) I would have never considered going there simply because of the drive, the costs, and really... why? There would be no reason for me to even consider it. But, you slap that name on it and it was not even a question of NOT going there.

    Now, that being said, fast-forward to right now and the reality that has set in. There was absolutely no complaints about the gym, my daughter's coaches were amazing and made the best of things, and it was fun. As fun as a season during Covid could be. But, the drive is not sustainable for two working parents, and the reality is that she wants to go to the tiny, small gym where all her friends from school go. I don't think there is anything her gym could have done more, but when you live 45 minutes away you can't just pop in for privates or team bonding, and I know exactly zero parents from the gym because we weren't allowed in due to Covid. So, location matters. Friends matter. Especially when your kid is a beginner and a level 1 or 2 team is similar no matter where you go. If she was seven with a full this would be an entirely different story, but she's an average kid that just wants to have fun. No other person in their right mind would have probably driven to that gym and done it for a year, but that loyalty I felt plays a factor for sure. I just don't think this applies to the average parent.

    So there it is, a little perspective from my cheer-crazy life.
     
  14. california cheer mom

    california cheer mom Best Flyer.. on a parent team

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    I feel this. We started at a gym close to our house and CP was fine there until she got older and wanted bigger experiences... NCA, higher level teams, tumbling privates. I now drive 45 minutes (if no traffic) to the big gym I said I would never commute to. And I don't regret it one iota. But we didn't make that move until she was in junior high and able to handle her time. So you might get there too, enjoy it while it's all still just fun!
     
  15. alpaca

    alpaca Best Flyer.. on a parent team

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    Not only the kids feel this way but sometimes parents too. I know of parents who had kids at a gym that merged/was acquired by a big name gym. The parents said "we know our teams are not very good but it doesn't matter because when we go to big comps, all people will see is the name on our uniform when we walk the hallways"