The first of the two Turnaround King episodes takes us to a Whippany, NJ Gold's Gym franchise that's on the verge of closing. Gym proprietors, the Puleos family, are faced not merely with losing their business, but are also at risk of losing the family home which had been mortgaged to keep this business afloat.
Grant begins the show simply by entering the fitness center incognito - furnished with a concealed camera disguised as a button on his suit. He starts noticing problems at once. As a potential customer, Grant isn't really dealt with adequately, and finds it difficult to find a person to take care of him. Youngest son Jon sits behind the counter and isn't very attentive. Grant asks questions. "Where is the pool?" Jon points toward an Olympic sized pool off in the distance. Grant notices an empty refrigerator. Asking about the price he is told a month.
Jon explains this is because of the competition. There have been several gyms opening in the vicinity and the Puleos want to give the lowest price. Grant leaves the fitness center with nothing but a free 7 day pass. There wasn't any real attempt to sell him on Gym membership or another product.
The Puleos family thought it would an easy task to run a gym after they first bought the place. They had seen other gyms succeeding. Now, two and a half years later, they are really struggling to remain open.
Grant sits down together with the Puleos family to talk about what is going wrong. Why are they struggling, and what can they do to correct things, to turn things around and save their business along with their home? The family mentions the hard competition as well as the high franchising fees they have to pay for the Gold's name. Their solution to the issue of completion has so far been to make an attempt to offer the lowest prices in town.
Grant does not agree. Why are they wanting to provide the lowest price when they have one of the nicest gyms in the neighborhood?
Grant gathers the owners and staff together for a meeting on the gym floor. This is where he reveals his visit while using the hidden camera. Grant plays the tape for everyone to check out. It isn't a flattering portrait of how to treat a client and the owners appear uncomfortable watching this video.
Grant makes some initial observations: The empty fridge - just looks bad. They don't seem to be doing business for the Twenty-first century - they're not using email, cellular phone, and other technology advances that's all so crucial to run a successful business here in 2011.
And perhaps most significantly, they need a step by step process for enrolling a new customer. They didn't even mention the gym to a prospective customer, they didn't show him around. They didn't even try to sell their product.
Grant asks the owners to leave the room. He wants to talk to the employees alone - they'll be more open. Immediately, various personnel did open up. They had definite opinions of what the issues were. Gross mismanagement. The right hand doesn't really know what the left hand is doing. They have to have a leader - someone who will step up and take charge.