With the COVID vaccine hopefully becoming available for wide spread use across Canada and the U.S.A. in the next couple of months, there is hope that the worst may soon be behind us. For the fitness club chains and single club operators who have managed to survive these unprecedented difficult times, the pressure will be huge to get their operations running profitably again as soon as possible. This of course will put tremendous pressure on gym owners and their management teams to make sure this happens, especially if your club is on the brink of making it or not.
Facing the immense pressure to keep one’s business viable can seem overwhelming and have a negative effect on the attitude employers and employees need to bring to work each day, to help their company recover. A fearful, defeatist, or generally negative attitude held by those responsible to right things can easily result in less focus, or attention to detail that one needs to make a business successful even in the best of times.
The reference to attitude here does not only mean having a good attitude about things in general. What I am also talking about is also having the necessary frame of mind to tackle significant challenge during tough times, whether they were caused by something unavoidable like the COVID Pandemic, or the daily stresses involved to ensure one is running a good and profitable business. For future reference, let’s call this one’s business attitude.
Hopefully, one day pandemic concerns will be far behind us, and we will return to as normal a situation as possible, but all things being equal, those clubs with employees and employers who have the best attitudes will have a much greater chance of survival than those who do not.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…” Charles Swindoll Best Selling Author, Educator, Pastor
Some Attitude Warning Signs
In some cases, many employers or employees may not even be aware that their mindset has become an issue, so do not feel the need for self-assessment. In the best of times a taking a true self-assessment of one’s actions in not that common, but it becomes even more crucial to do so during tough times, when so much is riding on getting things done, and getting them done right.
Here are some indicators that can identify when someone’s business attitude is not where it needs to be, so they become a part of the solution instead of the problem:
- Consistently not getting things done on one’s daily list of priorities.
- Not having a daily list of priorities to begin with.
- Not following an important project through to completion.
- Dealing with multiple projects at once, leaving one project for another, then another, finishing few of them along the way.
- Spending more time talking about problems than addressing possible solutions.
- Continuing the status quo in certain areas when all the signs show a course of action needs to take place.
- Delegating important personal tasks to others without management oversight.
- Becoming reactive to many issues instead of proactive.
- Assuming that once someone is instructed on what to do, that they know how to go about doing it.
- Not checking on the success of processes you have implemented yourself.
As a club owner or manager, do you recognize the need to improve on any of these issues personally? Or, do you know someone on your team who would have some of the above challenges whether this was noticed during, or even before the pandemic? If so, and you believe they are a valuable employee, this could be a sign that they could be still feeling unsafe, or overwhelmed, and are now just going through the motions. If safety is still a concern, do what needs to be done to make sure the work environment is safe if this has not been done already. A great source for club safety in Canada is the FICC (Fitness Industry Council of Canada) and IHRSA in the U.S.
As some gyms will be bringing back less employees for the next while, and fewer employees will be doing more, it would definitely be good to help them structure their day more effectively. There is also proven value in overwhelmed workers taking five-minute breaks when needed so they can regroup and return to their job more energized and more effective.
Until they get back on track, have daily check in meetings to ensure things are getting done to your expectations. In my experience helping clubs turnaround, I have found too often that the first meeting a boss has, is the one after the problem has occurred, not the one that would have been best to happen earlier to prevent a problem from happening, or to prevent one from getting worse.
The Joy of a Rocky Road
Having recruited, hired and trained many management personnel in my lengthy career at a fitness club chain with 38 locations, there is one thing, which I refer to in my book, that I observed that was common among the best of them. These people all had great attitudes in general and great attitudes when it came to dealing with significant challenges. In some cases, the greater the challenge, the more they enjoyed the opportunity to resolve it. I rarely recall if ever that any of them came up to me saying, “We have a problem!” Instead, their mindsets were so focused on the solution, that they would identify the issue to me and already have some ideas in place to correct it.
This mindset can be passed on to employees when leaders take this approach themselves. If employees are encouraged and supported while tackling challenges, they are much less likely to be afraid of failing and more likely to embrace challenges as just a normal part of one’s business day.
Attitude Affects Revenue
An example of a harmful business attitude pertaining to the fitness industry would be the many clubs during the COVID 19 shutdown who did not see the value in setting up an online personal training program because of all the free workout offerings on YouTube. Other gym owners have looked at it another way, so invested time providing members with their own free club workouts, which has led to bumping them up to more effective paid online programs as they stay in touch with them on a weekly basis. This outreach also kept members communicating with their club, so they were less likely to join another club.
And when things do get back to normal and members start to do more personal training at their clubs, those who clubs have a virtual training program in place will now be able to attract new clients who would not typically join a fitness facility.
The difference between these two examples was their business attitude. One looks at the possibilities, the other looks at the obstacles.
Problems are a Chance to Grow
Even in normal times, many businesses suffered because the decision makers wouldn’t alter their course due to the uncertainty of starting something new that they were unfamiliar with. Instead, they continued doing business at a steadily declining rate, sticking to what they know, and hoping for the best instead of intelligently modifying the course based on the challenges at hand, even when they are not one hundred percent sure of the end result. The attitude of fear complacency was their demise here, not a lack of smarts.
Because of the economic devastation caused by COVID, standing pat is no longer an option for those looking to thrive again. If new revenue streams are put into place at your facility, this can make up for a reduction in present and future membership enrollments. Should business come back like it was before, that’s great! Now you have even more ways of bringing in additional income. Not every new idea will work out, but those with the right attitude for their business will always be engaged and always willing to try new things.
In addition to the online personal training program already mentioned, following is a list of potential revenue streams that can help you realize your full potential in this new reality. If you have some of these in place already, then you are ahead of the curve. If not, it only involves taking the first step to get started. Doing something every day towards this goal will build the momentum needed to achieve a positive result. Gives others on your team the opportunity to help. More than one person working towards a common goal can be very powerful, as you can hold each accountable.
Club Revenue Streams: Corporate Outreach Program, Health supplements, fitness apparel, workshops, in house events, nutritional programs, renting out presently non used cardio equipment, rent out additional space to health-related services such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, etc.
Terry Patryluk was Vice President of Sales for one of Canada’s largest fitness club chains for 15 years, until starting his own company The Gym Profits Group, in 2012 . He has been instrumental in helping gyms owners throughout Ontario develop and implement new revenue streams and improve on existing ones. He specializes in leadership and sales training and implementing club corporate programs and personal training programs. He can be reached at 647-300-3997.