In addition to the 28 clubs his company, Lifestyle Family Fitness, operates in Florida, he has opened eight clubs in Ohio, with two more on the way. Dyer is also expanding in Florida and plans to double the company’s size in three years. It’s a daunting task, but the effort is paying off as the 2,100-employee company’s revenue grew from $34 million in 2003 to $53 million in 2004 and $85 million in 2005.
But Dyer, president and CEO, is not stopping there.
“Securing a position in Columbus, Ohio, opens up the states that are in close proximity to that, and gives us an opportunity to build a 30 to 50 club group in the Midwest,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Dyer about the procedure behind his business’s phenomenal growth.
What skills does a CEO need to be successful?
The CEO has to be prepared to be surrounded by superstars. Some CEOs are reluctant to share the spotlight.
You can’t be an expert in all things, so to be an effective CEO, you’ve got to hire the best you can hire in all divisions of the business. So not being intimidated by being surrounded by great people is one important thing.
Also, a CEO has to be a charismatic leader. My job is to share the vision, identify the strategy and get people excited about the vision and mission of the company. What is the big, hairy, audacious goal, and how do we achieve it?
As the company gets bigger, the CEO has to maintain the culture, so the people always feel proud to be part of an organization that’s connected to its people.
What do you look for in your employees?
People often ask, ‘What keeps you up at night?’ The only thing that makes me lose sleep is losing someone who is a valuable employee. The human capital need is a never-ending challenge.
For anyone to be successful in business, they need to be passionate at what they do. So we find people who are passionate about fitness and teach them that if they listen and learn and have good role models, they can develop a permanent career in the fitness industry. That’s pretty exciting and appealing to someone who likes this business.
Our first job is to let them know that there is a career path and what it entails; our second objective is to train that person so they can grow. At the end of the day, passionate people are attracted to and stay with companies that are learning organizations, places that enable them to get ahead in that organization.
How do you make decisions?
When you’re approaching $100 million in revenue, it’s easy to lose sight of how important it is to watch the revenue and expense line of the business. Whenever it comes to a decision that needs to be made, I try to get the person making that decision to think as though they own the club themselves.
We don’t make decisions as a big business where money doesn’t mean anything. We’re trying to take things back to their most simplistic form.
At the end of the day, the thing that’s made us successful is listening to our members and responding to their needs, and paying attention to revenue and expenses. Other things are important but not as important as those four areas.
What pitfalls does a successful CEO avoid?
Losing focus. It’s easy to think you can be good at all things, but at the end of the day, you can only be good at one thing.
You’ve really got to stay focused at driving your core business forward. There are so many options to make your business different, to make it bigger, to make it smaller, but you should keep a consistent business model and stay true to it.
Also, you’ve got to be careful to grow properly. Don’t grow for the sake of growing. You’ve got to be continually realigning your growth strategy. Every business is evolving at such a fast pace, if you don’t continually rethink what your brand stands for and what makes it unique, you’re at risk of becoming stale.
Completely understanding how your brand differentiates you from your competitors is a big part of the role of the CEO. If you’re not different, eventually you can get overtaken by competition, so you have to continually develop ways to make you different from your competition. You’ve got to continually reinvent yourself because what you consider to be differentiators are really duplicable.
You can have the biggest facility, and then someone builds a bigger one. We all have the same equipment, but continually trying to understand what makes you different is an important role of the CEO.
HOW TO REACH: Lifestyle Family Fitness, (727) 456-3100 or www.lff.com