We celebrated our 3rd anniversary on Wednesday with some treats and raffles, so it feels like time to look back and reflect on our progress to date. My first thought is that I cannot believe it has already been three years since we opened our doors with our first Tour de Bloc competition.
Our business has continued to grow rapidly in the past year, and probably our biggest challenge lately has been keeping up with the growth. Our membership, the average number of visits per day, and overall revenue are all up more than 20% year over year. The growth is not spread uniformly across our business hours; we’re getting pretty busy many evenings and most weekend afternoons, but things remain fairly quiet most weekday afternoons. We’re looking to fix that by working to bring in more school and corporate groups during the day!
We are exploring options to expand the capacity of the gym, and have started putting aside some of the profits to pay for that. Don’t hold your breath though, as these things do take time. Any exciting news about expansion is more likely to come next year rather than this year. It took a huge investment to start the gym and while we are paying that off at a decent rate, I’d rather save up to be able to pay for added climbing terrain than take on more debt.
Note that our injury rate has not increased with the growth in traffic. We continue to encounter the occasional sprain once in a while, but more severe injuries (i.e. broken bones) have become even less frequent (well below one incident per 10,000 visits to the facility), which makes us feel our vigilance about safety is working. Most people seem to understand that when a staff member intervenes to give a suggestion about belaying or other behaviour, the intent is always with safety at the top of our minds.
The growth in the business has made it challenging to keep up with everything lately, and that means it’s time for our little business to grow up a little. We’re adding to our management staff to share the administrative work, and we’re working to formalize some of our processes to improve communication (both internally among our staff, and with customers) and make things run more smoothly and error-free. And we continue to grow our team of Instructors and Belay Staff as the demand for lessons, parties and groups grows.
With more customers come more complaints as well. I have heard from several (between 5 and 10) unhappy customers now out of the over 130,000 visits to the gym. I take all complaints seriously, and when the complaint is not anonymous, I do what I can to understand it and make things right. If you have a concern about anything in the gym first try to resolve it with the staff on duty, and find out whom you’re speaking to so they can be held accountable. If you’re not satisfied after that, please come talk to me or email me at john <dot> gross <at> truenorthclimbing <dot> com. And if you are happy with your experience at True North Climbing, please tell your friends and family. Word of mouth is our main form of marketing, and it works!
Our success so far in our 3 years of operation is due to our great team of Routesetters, Climbing Instructors, Belay Staff and Managers, and to all the customers who have supported our business via memberships, day passes, lessons, day camp, scramble sessions, the recreational and competitive programmes, yoga and competitions. Thank you for your support. We will continue to work hard to make True North Climbing better and better.