Key Considerations for Reopening Your Gym
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of the fitness industry, global closures and restrictions of fitness-based businesses have had a significant impact on many small business owners. However, as Australia begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel, club and studio owners have been encouraged to begin planning to open their doors once again. So, what are the key considerations to help you prepare for when the time comes?
The first step is to create a plan of action, beginning with back of house activities all the way through to member communications. We suggest breaking your plan down into four broad categories: staffing, gym floor preparation, existing members, and new members.
Staffing is undoubtedly the first issue to be addressed. During the pandemic many club owners may have had to reduce staff hours, stand down employees or even let go of their team members. As the business begins to transition back to normal operations, you will need the support of your team to prepare your space and manage the influx of returning members. This transition may involve a slow re-introduction of staff back to their previous hours and duties in the lead up to the full lifting of social distancing restrictions.
The second matter is gym floor preparations. Despite being given the green light to open your doors, this does not mean business as usual. Social distancing and strict hygiene controls will need to be taken into consideration, and this could mean some changes to your equipment layout. Spacing equipment further apart and increasing the number of hand sanitiser / disinfectant wipe stations throughout the club is important to maintain clients health. Additionally, sectioning open plan spaces using tape or cones can help ensure that each member has their own space to conduct floor workouts and stretching.
Further restrictions based on the size of your gym may mean limiting the number of members who can be working out at one time. For clubs and studio’s that run a class schedule, this could mean reducing the number of participants in each class, however for 24/7 gyms this can be more difficult to manage. A great way to handle this is to break the day into hour blocks and create an online tool where members can register to attend at a particular time. This helps mitigate inconveniences to members, by avoiding having to turn away eager gym-goers at the door if your facility has reached capacity. It also ensures that social distancing rules are followed and allows gym staff to do a clean of equipment and bathroom/shower facilities between each session to reduce the spread of germs.
The third consideration is re-engaging with your existing membership base. Due to the uncertainty around the re-opening of fitness-based businesses, it is important to let your members know that you are adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines and keeping their safety front of mind. After a period of closure it is normal to experience a slight drop in membership numbers, however having an effective communications strategy can help mitigate the impact on your business. The use of email marketing and SMS tools are an effective way to communicate with members about when and how they can visit your business again.
Finally, it is important to be thinking ahead and develop a marketing strategy to help onboard new members. Whilst we understand that business growth is not your current focus, it is essential that as things return to normal you have a plan that can be quickly and effectively implemented, whether this be a national marketing initiative created by your franchisor or a local area marketing plan unique to your business. This will help secure the long-term success of your business and assist in returning your fitness club to its previous growth trajectory.