We’ve heard the word a lot in the last 15 years. There have been movies about pandemics. We’ve seen epidemics in other parts of the world we worried would become pandemics.
You’ve probably planned for localized natural disasters, and location-specific things like power outages, water main breaks, and road closures. But something that impacts all of your club locations at once? That’s a hard one to plan for.
Looking at trend reports of the aggregated new membership sales and member check-ins for clubs across the country, the sharply accelerating decline in both is ominous. Economic uncertainties have consumers in a wait-and-see mode for many purchases, and people are increasingly wary of spending time in social spaces of any kind.
We’ve been working on a new dashboard showing the predicted amount of revenue a gym would have for the next 12 months if it stopped selling memberships today. It’s supposed to be hypothetical, an exercise used to judge the relative strength of your dues and predicted non-dues revenue, membership duration (contracted and predicted), and retention.
That dashboard just became more real than we could have ever anticipated.
While waiting for new membership sales to return to normal after this pandemic passes, you will have to be laser-focused on retaining the members you already have. Some great resources have been published, such as this 4 Reasons to Keep Exercising article by IHRSA. Some dedicated members will keep coming in as long as they are allowed to, but the data shows that many will not. In addition to working hard to ensure sanitary conditions and behaviors in your club, and trying to instill that confidence in your members, you may want to consider some alternative methods of engagement during this time.
Virtual Group Exercise
You have competition out there offering online exercise classes, and this is prime time for them to acquire new members. Maybe yours. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment or technical know-how to host an online exercise class on a venue like Facebook Live or YouTube Live, and even if you don’t do it perfectly, your members will be impressed and grateful that you’re making the effort to accommodate their sense of personal and civic safety.
Group Exercise has been shown to be “sticky” for retention for most gyms. Don’t give up an opportunity for your trainers to continue to engage with high value members just because they’re not coming into the club.
Not ready for live streaming? Just try recording video of classes and posting on YouTube,Vimeo, or Facebook. People can follow along in their living room, and still have a connection to your brand.
Virtual Personal Training
One-on-one training has an extremely low technology bar for entry, requiring only freely available and commonly used video chat apps like Google Duo, Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc. Here again, there is ample competition out there offering this service, and it’s preferable to have the trainer on the other end of that chat app be one of yours.
At Home Exercise Tips
It may seem counterintuitive to offer members tips for working out at home when you really want them to come into the gym. But the reality of this situation is that some high quality members are just going to be staying home. It doesn’t take much disruption in a routine to lose a good habit, and you don’t want them losing their fitness habits while waiting to feel safe returning to the gym. Your competition here is Netflix and the couch. Keeping people in a fitness habit will make it easier for them to resume a routine, and they’ll be happy to return to all the amenities of a gym when it’s over.
This pandemic will come to an end sooner or later, and your business will return to normal. Remember, it’s impacting all of your bricks-and-mortar competition as well. We can clearly see from our data that no club type or region of the country is spared. We at Easalytics wish you all the best of luck during this difficult time, and we greatly look forward to watching those new member and member check-in trend lines trending back up.