Some fitness studios are still closed, some have filed for bankruptcy, and some have actually reopened. Outlined below are lessons that we have learned at konnectme while helping health club facility owners reopen.
Lesson 1: Maximize your Memberships upon Reopening
Some fitness studios we helped reopen immediately after the government lifted restrictions did not have a slowdown of new membership sign ups for 2 months, with sales comparable to typical January levels. While some people were still feeling unsafe going to the gym, we found many, such as the “die hard gym enthusiast”, were more than happy to join again.
How to capitalize on memberships upon reopening?
1. We had to strategize our advertising to make sure that these “gym enthusiasts” knew we were already opening our doors to the public.
2. The 2nd key was to capitalize on new members by closing down the drop-ins or temporary membership options. We only allowed prospects who were willing to sign up for a term contract to access the gym.
Lesson 2: Boost Personal Training Sales
While many personal trainers were let go from fitness studios during the initial shut-down, these “fitness studio enthusiasts” remained eager to work and train again. Personal training sales also did not slow down upon reopening the fitness facilities.
How to capitalize on personal training sales upon reopening?
1. Set up re-targeting marketing to past personal training clients for immediate renewal.
2. Set up internal campaigns to members regarding complimentary jump start work outs.
3. Since there will still be some sort of “uncertainty” in the world’s situation, offer smaller packages instead of big packages to calm the customer’s mind.
Lesson 3: Saving Cancellations
At Konnectme.ca, we found that around 40% of existing memberships were not comfortable to go back to the fitness studio. Within those 40%, more than half called to cancel their memberships.
Dealing with members who are under a contract
The fitness studios that we have worked with found that the being stern about your cancellation policy works great on keeping your current members. We also found that offering a simple hold on their membership dues will most likely save the cancellation.
Dealing with members who aren’t in a contract
We found that the best way to deal with someone who does not have an ongoing contract is to offer them a free hold on their account and telling them that if they cancel their memberships, they might lose their current rate because prices may change to match the incoming inflation.
Lesson 4: If you are a Fitness studio without a Database Managing Software, be ready to Deal with Complaints
During the lockdown
Since most fitness studio’s expenses are supported by recurring payments, smaller community fitness studio owners had some success in staying float during the lockdown by asking current members to not freeze their payments in order to help with fixed operating expenses.
However, fitness studios without database management software had very little capacity to follow up with members to ask for support, thus causing more stress to their financial and mental well-being.
Operators who did not bother getting the phone numbers or emails of members were very frustrated. Many had to email or call members one by one, just to let them know that they would be freezing their member’s accounts, or refunding their memberships.
Those fitness studio owners with database managing software were able to communicate efficiently to their members, send out blast emails, texts and updates about what was going on in their fitness studio.
Communication lessons learned:
1. Always asking for a phone number and email
2. Always register these contacts in a fitness studio software platform so you can have an efficient communication system
Most fitness studio operators would agree that having a communication system is very important and consider it as one of their Covid-19 fitness studio reopening lessons! Although database management software is a must for fitness studio centres during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is helpful in other ways. It removes the hassles of time-consuming and repetitive administrative tasks.
Lesson 5: Have a COVID-19 Waiver for your Members and Employees
Many fitness studios are reopening as the government lifts the lockdown around the world. The Fitness business is confronting restored dangers of obligation emerging from the transmission of covid-19 regarding company actions. Many fitness studios are asking clients to sign a fitness studio covid-19 liability waiver before entering their facility.
We have created a generalized template that you can edit with your club’s logo: download here: Waivers
Lesson 6: There is a Huge Online Opportunity for Personal Training
We spoke to a few trainers about Covid-19 fitness studio reopening lessons and personal training, and they all had one common answer: they wish they had an online training process.
Konnectme found that some fitness studios had success in keeping their members by having an online portal on their website to temporarily give out home based training plans. These platforms also served as a portal to do 1 on 1 trainings with a client, giving the fitness studio and personal trainer an opportunity to keep charging for sessions while the lockdown was happening.
What was learned is that these fitness studios kept this platform even after reopening to serve clients who do not have “time” to physically go to the studio. Fitness-minded individuals have preferred the trend of at-home fitness to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle during this pandemic. Interestingly, there is a noticeable increase (~30%) in investments for online fitness platforms.
With a digital platform, you have a chance to enjoy a higher growth of the business. However, you have to maintain a balance of traditional and digital fitness centres. Your members always desire to continue their pre-outbreak fitness levels. To know the reactions and views of these members, it is better to rely on the online platform.
Lesson 7: A Business Contingency Reserve Fund for your Fitness studio
By no means is konnectme gym digital marketing a financial advisory service, but we find that fitness studios should have a contingency reserve fund (CRF).
A CRF is a fund that’s collected to pay for common expenses that usually occur less often than once a year; or do not usually occur. Most fitness studio’s that did not put away at least 10-25% of their profits were deemed to struggle during an emergency. We suggest talking to an accountant or financial advisor to build a good financial plan for your business.
Lesson 8: Capacity Restrictions
Since the implementation of 2-metre social distancing, most operators have prepared their facilities by doing the following:
1. Adding zones in the fitness studio where only 1 person can be in the zone at a time
2. Close duplicate machines
3. Close every 90 minutes to do a 30-minute sanitation protocol
4. Hire an additional person to make sure social distancing is happening
5. Provide sanitation spray bottles for each member that walks in
6. Have sanitizer available everywhere
7. Stop towel service
8. Close down the lockers
9. Close down every other cardio machine
10. Cut hours for 24-hour fitness studios
11. Limit the outdoor site’s overall capacity to make sure that there is at least a 2-metre gap between members
12. Implement compulsory face coverings for both staff and clients
13. Discontinuing service and facility access for clients refusing to wear a mask for non-medical reasons
14. Limiting the number of tools rented for your fitness studio centres
15. Implementing a contact-free process for reservations, prepayments, and cancelations of fitness studio memberships to avoid physical interactions.
Lesson 9: Consider a Booking System or Sign-in sheet as part of your Covid-19 Fitness Studio Reopening Plan
Since capacity restriction is also based on square footage of the facility, most operators consider that one of their Covid-19 fitness studio reopening lessons is to implement the restriction of 1 person per 200 square feet.
So for example: a 10,000 sqf fitness facility would only have 50 people in the facility at a time.
Here are 2 systems operators can utilize, each has unique pros and cons.
The booking system:
The booking system would need to use an external pre-booking process to keep track of people coming in.
1. Easier to track capacity
2. Easier to kick people out after the time limit
3. Easier to track people if an outbreak were to happen
1. New members may not have the opportunity to book a time to work out because of regulars. This can cause less new member sign ups.
The wait in line and sign-in sheet method:
1. Easier to sign people up since there’s no booking system. This would mean that everyone would have the opportunity to work out if they have time to wait in line.
2. No need to pay for an external booking system
3. Easy to track if there were any outbreak
1. Hard to keep track of capacity
2. Members may get angry if they wait in line for too long
We found that helping fitness studios set up either system works, and there is no right or a wrong method.
Lesson 10: Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy now before Reopening
One of the biggest lessons that should be taken in this article is that most fitness studios have had to adapt with the systems mentioned above, and with most operators often the first question asked is “Where do I start?”
From creating an advertising announcement to the community to letting them know that you’re open again, to making sure you have an efficient communication system or perhaps, to finally start your marketing right. We’re here for you!
When you are ready to have a digital marketing strategy for your fitness studio, schedule a complimentary strategy session with us at www.konnectme.ca/book and we will do a full digital marketing audit for you and suggest strategies that can benefit you. This service is completely complimentary and you can choose to take everything that you have learned from us to your in-house team or let us help you implement the strategies. At Konnectme Digital Marketing, we aim to help every fitness studio in Canada.
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