I wanted to say a few words about what went down last night on the FB group. If you weren’t online at midnight you will have missed it - and it’s something I would really like people to see.
So it started with the following post from a group member:
Because we live in a very public social media world and CF feeds directly into that public space, it’s quite normal to see the odd negative post. You can’t be all things to all people, and if you let small things trigger you, ultimately you end up looking foolish, so I usually let negative posts slide. This one however was different and felt like I had to respond. I jumped on the thread and posted - what was in retrospect - a bit of an emotional rant, and it’s this rant that I wanted to share with you.
At the start of last year, we lost the Meadows. This was a huge blow to CF because it was an amazing class, but also because it damaged us financially. The profits the Meadows generated covered the costs of our more quiet locations, namely Mirdif and Downtown. I ran Mirdif at a loss for 3 years. This one fact is enough to disprove your post. If I was trying to exploit people and steal their money, I would surely just close locations as soon as they stopped making money. I didn’t do this.
Downtown sometimes had 3-5 people per class. Our breakeven point when everyone is paying 85AED (which they never do) is around 18 people per class. So on many days we would lose over a thousand Dirhams to run one class… There are 5-6 classes per week. Add up those those numbers and you’ll soon see how we could take losses of tens of thousands of Dirhams per month, per location - and yet we kept them running.
All was fine when we had the Meadows, because the profits would cover the losses, but when the Meadows closed, these losses began to take their toll. Despite this, I still kept them open for as long as we could. In 2018, the CF made losses of around 9,000 USD per month. Mandy Parker is on our group - she runs our accounts and finances. Please feel free to contact her. She will confirm that we were literally running off fumes. Things got so bad that over Christmas I was considering closing Circuit Factory. I had drawn a line in the sand “if the bank balance goes below this, we will have to close.” And I kept having to redraw the line… downwards. We were bleeding out. In January, I had to cut all of the trainers wages (it was vile). We then closed Mirdif, and moved another. These are not the actions of a business that is making huge profits.
And consider the pricing. CF’s most expensive class is AED85. Barrys is AED120, Flywheel is AED125, Orange Theory is AED140, CrossFit is AED150.
CF is the best in the industry, both in the region and farther afield. Travel anywhere in the world and try to get something that comes close. Tell me a market where a product is the best in every category, and yet it’s 40% cheaper than the competition. And does that pricing strategy sound like it came from a man who is intent on fleecing people? You live in a City where you’ve got people charging you AED120 for a 50-minute workout and you chose to target the greed of Circuit Factory?
You mentioned that we are making a lot of money with the Food Box company - it rarely breaks even. Every month a small team is busting their ass and and not even making one Dirham to put into making the product better or recouping the money we have already invested in it.
I personally work 7 days a week to make CF happen. I haven’t taken a regular salary in months, and the last money I did take was a transfer into the Food Box company to keep it alive. I don’t buy clothes, visit fancy hotels or have lavish tastes. I am surviving off savings and busting my ass to try to turn the CF back around. If I am successful in my goal, and the CF starts making money then I will gladly take some of it and what’s more, I will have deserved it.
The CF has been in Dubai for 8 years, and over that time we have never increased our prices ourselves. The only time the prices went up was when VAT was introduced. We launched memberships in 2019, which cut the price of our Challenge from AED1260 to AED895. We gave further reductions to casual members in prices via class packs. When members ask for further concessions in price “Why can’t i have that rate?” “You should do something for loyal members etc…” I have no choice but to decline, because if we cut our prices any further, we would have to close.
The reason that post triggered me was because I am putting everything I have into Circuit Factory - those aren’t mere words - aside from a few games of Boomerang Stones with the Long Swan, CF is literally my life.
When you put that kind of effort in and then you go online and see someone claiming you’re making yourself rich by exploiting people - and you’re on Excel trying to figure out where the rent is coming from… That’s going to touch a nerve.
Of course we need money to survive, but it doesn’t have to be our guiding light. There are far better reasons for doing what we do. If you’re striving to become the best in health and fitness, and money is your core driver, you’ll never reach your goal… because this whole thing isn’t about dirhams - it’s about helping people, which is why one of our core values is to help as many people as we can. And I commented on that post and I write this blog because it’s incredibly important to me that everyone who trains in CF understands that fact.
PS - I private messaged the guy that wrote the post and invited him in for a free week of CF. Amazingly, he hadn't actually taken a class!!