The year so far has left a lot of gym owners and gym-goers alike wading through uncharted waters personally as well as professionally. And though COVID-19 has closed your gym’s doors, there’s still much opportunity for your business to survive and even thrive during this historically uncertain time. No one knows when we’ll celebrate the re-opening of our gyms, but while we wait, here’s a checklist of things to make sure you as a gym owner are doing to grow your gym during the pandemic and beyond it.
Organize and Structure Your Business for the Long Term
It’s safe to say that gone (temporarily) are the old days of normalcy and recent months have ushered in a new reality and challenges for all. And with that comes the need to adopt new business practices. Although you may be eager to, changing your business model overnight is not the best game plan. We recommend using this time of clarity to your advantage. Reevaluate the goals you’ve set at the beginning of the year to accommodate the industry’s shift into a new kind of training model.
Andrea Hovel, an accountant with Healthier Bookkeeping, shared the necessity of getting your finances in order first before making any definitive moves. Her first piece of advice is creating a balance sheet, a profit-loss statement, and a statement of cash flow. Start with the balance sheet, which will help you get a snapshot of your business and where it currently stands. Dig into the 3 O’s: what you own, what you owe, and what is overflow. Then after breaking down your finances, apply your findings to three major areas; staff, leases, and goals.
When it comes to your staff, resist the urge to send people home because the studio is closed. Instead, reassign their roles. Your instructors can help you create content for your students and prospects throughout the week, as different people provide different perspectives and ideas. If you have staff members without defined roles, designate tasks such as touching base with current clients, reaching out to leads, or putting together newsletters and blog posts to share with everyone digitally or through good old-fashioned snail mail.
The steps you take and the practices you put in place during this unprecedented time can lead to impactful long-term results if you take the time to reimagine your goals and restructure your business the right way. To read more about Hovel’s financial planning advice for small businesses click here.
Consider Adopting Live Streaming Services
Thanks to the oasis that is the Internet, creating content is easier (and cheaper) than ever before. Platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, Kicksite, Zoom, and Facebook are among the most popular avenues for live streaming your trainings. Just like with the other items on our list, what is a temporary means of keeping your students and prospects on the virtual mats with you can easily become standard practice as things get back to normal.
Try not to stress over the changes to the fitness industry that have come in recent days; embrace them and make them your own. Instill a sense of community and tribe with your students and ask to upload videos of their training. With their permission, these videos can be used to create hype videos and highlights that may inspire others to keep pushing.
Creating packages and sharing videos that you create for free is a surefire way to get those looking to train with you in the virtual door and don’t put up a paywall — at least for now. Once the lockdowns are lifted, offer those who have consistently trained with you a discount to continue. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and for those training with you, you’ve become a part of their daily routine and they’re less likely to want to give up that great feeling.
Adjust Your Facebook Ads
More people at home means more people browsing the internet to pass the time and more foot traffic to your website and social media pages. This is the perfect time to increase your brand awareness and even establish authority. We’re not talking about kids on the playground kind of authority; think more of yourself as a trusted resource. Instead of directing students and newcomers to your website, try pointing them in the direction of industry-related blog posts and published articles. This boosts your customer’s confidence in your knowledge and furthers the likelihood that they’ll associate your brand as the go-to resource for all things fitness and martial arts.
If your budget still allows for it, online advertising agency WordStream recommends planning out your ads in advance. Adjust them so they don’t blatantly speak to your gym’s training or workout classes, but also make sure it has the language, content, and imagery relating to your virtual class offerings. Your viewers are likely to bookmark your information for when they’re ready to make a purchase in the future.
Another tactic is to invite those who come across your ad to join a 30-day challenge and require them to sign up with a name, email, and, in some cases their phone number, in order to participate. When they sign up, send them info about your gym and other classes you all offer. For your current students think about creating an ad for a private Zoom session for $25. Ideas like these not only get a foot in the door with potential local students, but also piques the interest of those outside of your normal range.
Market Your Programs to the Entire Family, Not Just Kids
In an effort to find endless things to keep younger audiences engaged and their lives packed to the brim with activities, businesses sometimes overlook the untapped market of adults.
Many of us under the stay-at-home order are indoors with our loved ones, so it’s only a matter of time before we take interest in the content they devour. So instead of backing away from marketing, invest more in it and re-stance your view to the long-term benefits, not just the short-term. A key thing to remember during this time is to market to existing customers first, as they’re likely to champion you and your services to their friends. Word will quickly spread of the fun they’re having and the new skills they’re learning together; inspiring others to follow suit.
Crafting content the whole family can enjoy is not only an excellent opportunity for families to bond, but it’s also an easier and less costly way to grow your community. Encourage them and reward them for tracking their exercises, and if you don’t want to feel like you’re pressuring them, encourage them to share their personal achievements, which are always worthy of praise.
Take Care of Yourself
In these uncertain times, it’s natural for your biggest concern to be your business and how you’re going to stay afloat. But don’t spend all of your time worrying about your business, be sure not to neglect yourself in the process. A ship cannot sail without its captain and likewise is true for your business.
Taking care of yourself isn’t just limited to eating well and exercising, it also includes having a healthy overall mindset. This pandemic can take a toll on your mental health, so it’s crucial to seek emotional support when needed and take care of yourself in healthy ways that work for you. A calmer and more centered you means your staff will be calm, too.
Entrepreneur Middle East hints in their article on small businesses that a healthier mindset can not only strengthen your business and ensure you make the best decisions for your gym but ultimately, make way for innovative ideas to take place. “In what is a very dynamic and rapidly changing situation, sometimes taking a step back to reassess, asking for trusted opinions, and also keeping perspective will help,” they advise. “Things will get better, and you’re not in this alone.”
The greatest takeaway is to do your best to remain optimistic about the times at hand — even if that’s cautiously optimistic. With optimism and these tips in your arsenal, you’ll not only grow your business despite COVID-19 but also long afterward.