Well, this is a really good question right now as the gym industry has its eyes focused on that all important date from the government to say the doors can open again.
There will be a number of new challenges to overcome more than ever before, so what is your plan?
When it comes to systems they can mean different things to different business owners but now, with this pandemic, the playing field has completely changed on a worldwide basis meaning your business will have to change the way it operates moving forward. As an ex gym owner myself I know how important it is going to be to reopen the doors 100% right to make your members feel safe, secure and excited to come back to exercise after lockdown has been eased for gyms to reopen.
A system in one gym could be that payments have always been cash, standing order and members sign themselves in a book by hand. This might well have worked well prior to the pandemic, lets now look at how this will work going forward.
Do you want to take cash when we are now being encouraged to complete all our transactions without touching anything in a safer way?
Do you want to continue to take recurring payments by standing order, where you have to print off a form, then get the customer to complete it by hand, then have to gather the forms together and take them to the bank each week?
Do you then expect your members to continue to handle the same pen throughout the day when they sign in upon arrival?
In another gym it might be that they have a software solution in place to do some of what is needed, for example, direct debits, register attendance upon arrival and have a PDQ card machine at reception. But do these systems work in what will be the new normal going forward?
So this is our new challenge, to reopen ready for the new norm. This may seem a little lengthy but there are no apologies here because I really want us to use this re-opening of gym doors to do things better.
What I would like to share with you is what we have learnt since lockdown and some decisions for you to make.
Review the way you collect money
Now is a great time to look at how your members can make payments online for everything from a membership, paying for a class booking to buying a bottle of water in the club. Can you ensure that your members can do this online without having to have a physical interaction with a member of staff, which in the new norm is where your customers will be expecting businesses to be able to do so.
An Online Direct Debit solution is an absolute must to replace standing orders, so doing your research on the right provider is key to ensuring they promote your business brand, collect monies online, tell you instantly when there are missed payments and works seamlessly with the software systems you have in the business right now.
If you have no software solution in place it would be a really good time to review this as cash is not king anymore, so welcome the new norm by taking money online.
Review what you charge
I have always been an advocate of less is more when it comes to membership pricing models as many who have spoken to me will know. But we now have a new option of membership with the added revenue stream generated by providing On Demand content.
So what we have now is a fantastic opportunity to review all your membership plans split them into monthly payers and then those that pay in advance. Once you have done that then look to see which are the most popular price points that have been purchased over the years first. Then look at a mean average for all the membership plans to see what the average payment is being collected.
By taking time to look at your membership plans this way it will give you the critical data to change your price points and hit the right price that will not only simplify your pricing model but also increase your sales.
What is your OnDemand offering going to be?
On Demand creates a whole new revenue stream where potentially new customers that would never have thought about coming to your premises now feel that they would like to get involved with an Online offering that could now be available to them, which prior to the pandemic had not really been a big consideration.
One thing is for sure, this situation has produced an increase in people considering their health, fitness & wellbeing more than ever before and they genuinely want to get involved so make your On Demand offering a permanent feature of your business generating new income not seen before, because if you do not, be rest assured someone else locally near your business will.
Embrace this new norm of On Demand fitness because there is a growing customer appetite for this style of fitness.
So the question has to be do you have the tools or systems to make this all happen in a simple easy way?
Review your Classes & PT Sessions
Classes are a key part of so many gyms businesses, providing additional income and retention of members who might just pay their membership because they love taking part in the classes.
This is the perfect time to re-evaluate the classes that work and the ones that do not work. The class sizes, with social distancing, are going to change in both size and also delivery but that will not stop your members taking part in them. What is key is being able to make sure you have the right booking platform that allows members to book and pay online making it super simple to buy from your business.
Does the previous class structure allow for the right amount of time for additional necessary cleaning, to create an increase of smaller classes at different times in the day and promote the OnDemand options that could also become more convenient.
Take your Classes outside the gym with Zoom
Zoom has now become a household name for so many of us but now, more than ever before, being able to give your customers a seamless booking Zoom experience all in one place within your brand via a Member App.
Being able to reach out into your customers homes using Zoom becomes an extension to the reach that your business can have allowing new members to join in, but also retain loyal members who may still not yet feel safe to come back to the gym right now.
Review your membership base
Now this might be a more challenging job if you do not have a database but easier if you have for sure, however the purpose is still the same. It is more about making decisions if this current data is still relevant for the business when you reopen.
Do you want to keep non-paying customers, the complimentary members that never came back and the people that showed some interest 3 years ago in joining and just didn’t. There are indeed two schools of thought on this one, keep the data to remarket to if you are indeed going to remarket to them in a GDPR compliant way or do you delete them all and start a fresh.
Social Distancing is key when the doors open
We are starting to get a clearer picture of what is needed for social distancing although it is not confirmed, but one thing is for sure we are going to have to be able to manage access into the gym to comply with the rules and safety for your members so how are you going to redefine the areas in the gym and then manage who is there in the club.
These will become important issues as gyms will need to be able to prove that they can manage the forthcoming standards whatever they might be, but for sure will need to have some space to do so.
Keeping your customers in the loop
Having the right communication at the right time is vital and being able to automate this is really important so that every time a communication goes out it is well timed but also does not take up more of your valuable time in the business because when you reopen your workload will be very different to how it was before the lockdown.
Automating emails, SMS for new member communications, new prospects, class bookings into a member journey that takes your customer down a pre-defined route, which in turn supports your brand values is a really good way of increasing your business but also giving you much needed time back to focus on other tasks in the club.
At the same time maintaining good communication with your membership base during this pandemic is very important from a retention point of view as hearing nothing from the gym they loved coming to each week will make a member feel out of the loop, but if engaged with they will certainly be impressed you have kept in contact, especially now.
Ability to provide an Online Joining experience
The need to be able to reach out to new customers without expecting them to come in to sign up in the club is something that allowed the 24 hr unmanned gym market to rise in the UK and there is a lot we can learn from that model and apply it in our gyms today.
Whereas the online joining process was implemented to save costs as the gyms were unmanned, the landscape has changed now for all gyms as a potential customer will potentially want to seamlessly join up online and start to use the gym facilities straight away.
So if you are not able to provide online joining, it is surprisingly easy to set up and make part of your website to let those new joiners get started with you, share with their friends that they have joined via social media links which will also drive your referral rates.
We are all currently looking to the government to give us the green light and at ClubRight, as we are built by gym owners for gym owners, we are in the best position to answer these challenges all within the ClubRight software enabling you to open in a safe, productive and more profitable way.
If any of this content has been of help, that is great as that was always my intention to be thought provoking and take some time out to think, then I have achieved my objective.