Your Anger and Frustration Will Kill Your Business

Uncategorized Jun 29, 2020

This is not about your rights as a citizen, this article is about what's right for your business.

 The gyms have been closed too long. The states now are debating later openings for some gyms while a few states are questioning if opening was wrong and if that decision should be reversed.

 There are a few states already, followed by individual cities in those and other states, where they opened and then decided they lost control and have gone back to the basics in the fight against the virus; wear a mask, wash your hands and stay at least six feet apart from others.

 Gym owners by now have drifted into two distinct categories. You either do the best you can within the structure given to you, even when that structure changes by the day or hour, or you become angry, rant against the governments that are dictating to you, and you fight back by resisting, defying and ranting on every available social media platform.

 You have this right to protest, to express your opinion, to stand up for the rights you believe you have… but we forget, as illustrated by so many gym owners around the country in the states that have opened up in the last several months, that the clients have the right to express their ideas and perceived rights as well.

Bluntly, many owners are killing their own businesses. The virus might have shut them down, but their anger and frustration are what is taking them down at the end.

Owners who reopen angry work hard to prove their defiance. They do not believe in the rules given to them, such as suggestions you wear masks and practice social distancing, so they open their gyms doing everything they can do to defy everyone who seemingly challenges their personal rights.

They refuse masks, let the clients into the gym as they see fit, did little while closed to earn the trust of the clients who do not believe what they believe, and these owners now stand shocked that the clients have not come back to support them.

On the other hand, owners who stay calm, understand the rules are put there not only to protect them but others around them, reopen with a set protocol and find the clients will return if they feel safe and trust you to keep them safe.

 One small gym owner in Pennsylvania was only about eight months into his new gym when the state shut him down. At the time of closing, he had fifty-five clients in the system, which was enough to prove the concept and to keep him and his wife profitable at that point.

 While closed he did the right things, such as prove he was updating the gym and creating a safe environment, he created a strong online support system, and he kept all communication positive and non-political.

 When he was given permission to reopen, fifty-two of the fifty-five clients came back the first week. Why? Because he refused to let his anger and frustration ruin a good gym and because he recognized not all the clients feel as he did.

 Was he frustrated about the state intervention? Of course, what owner would not be? But how he handled it is the difference between gyms that open with this success rate and others, the angry ones, who open with less than a third of their clients coming back the first month.

 The angry owners get caught up in the need to blast the world at the perceived unfairness. Every post, every communication with clients and every word breathed is an angry burst of how badly the gyms in that state are getting treated, but they find a false hope in their social media responses.

 You will find three types of clients that appear in this madness

Three types of clients have emerged out of all this since the shutdowns began. You are young or political and deny the virus; you are timid and want to come back to the gym but you will wait to see how it goes for the first in; and the terrified, the ones who will take a full ninety days to find their way home, assuming you as the owner will do the right things.

The angry owners are driven by the responses of the ones who do not believe and do not care about the virus. You post a negative rant on FB and your loyalists scream their support. I will not wear a mask, we will reopen, and the state cannot stop us, I have rights in this country to protect my business as I see fit are all the constant themes of these rants.

And your fans jump in, scream their support and you then falsely believe your entire membership is behind you when you open the doors. And you were wrong. You made a decision for the entire membership based upon the emotional support of a small percentage of your clients.

Your rants and defiance cost you the other two-thirds of your clients. The anger you cannot control drove away the timid and polarized, those who do dread and fear the virus. You were correct in that you can express your rights, but you forgot the client can also express his and he did by walking away from your business for good.

 Here are some suggestions that might help you keep your business alive during these tough times. This is not about our rights, I acknowledge your individual rights in this country, but this is about good business and how your anger destroys everything you built:

  • Follow the recommended guidelines for your state. If they mandate masks, then do the mask thing. Over two-thirds of your membership is waiting for you, their coach, to show leadership. They want to trust you to keep them safe. This group wants to feel safe in your business and wants to come home if you stop negatively ranting about something that is important to them.


  • Overkill everything, you can always back off later. Do everything to make the terrified third of you clients feel good and the rest will be good, and yes, you may get a few snickers from those who do not believe, but secretly they are good with you at least trying not to kill them. If you reopen, start with full safety measures and then back off as needed. You cannot open without these measures then try to add them later. If the virus re-surges in your area, you have already established practices that will separate you from the other gyms that chose to go without.


  • Exploit the good things you are doing. Prior to opening, continue a weekly barrage of short videos on social media of you making the gym safe. Even installing a hand sanitizer station is worth a one-minute video sent into your market for seven days at two or three dollars per day. 


  • Once you are open, even in a limited capacity, shoot fresh video of your clients saying, “I love what they are doing here, I feel safe.” Shoot five or more of these can keep them out in the market for the full ninety days. You will get personally tired of these; the clients do not. These are for the terrified third and if you make them feel safe, we all feel safe.


  • Be prepared for a long ninety-days when you reopen. It will take a full three-to-five months to rebuild your business. You need to practice safe protocols for the entire time or until the national situation changes.


  • You will also need at least one or two months of reserve capital to run your gym until you again breakeven. At least thirty percent of the gyms in this country have already failed, or will fail, by the end of the ninety-day reopening window. Your clients will return in three waves; the younger and do not care attitude people will be back day one along with those in the middle your convinced would be safe with you and the rest will drift in for the next sixty days. If you get back ninety percent of your clients by the end of ninety days, consider it a huge win.


  • Keep politics out of your gym. I had an owner scream at me on the phone that I cannot deny her right to have an opinion. She will post whatever she wants, when she wants, and I should give her better advice to not get political.


  • When you go political, you forget that forty percent agree with you, forty percent are now on the other side and strongly disagree with you, and the twenty percent in the middle are wondering why a gym owner feels the need to spend hours ranting on social media about politics? Her point was that a personal page is just that and she can be as she is on that page so she ranted and entered into the political wars no one ever wins… by the way, her gym is gone now because she reopened with about twenty percent of her clients and then it was too late to chase the rest.


  • Ranting and politics on social media changes nothing, does nothing and hurts your brand and business. Has anyone ever changed someone else’s mind with a rant on FB? If you want to be political, do it quietly, volunteer, donate or do anything that keeps it out of your business. Your business should be about food bank donations, charities and being part of the community.


  • Yes, again and again, you have the right to say what you on social media… and I have the right as your client to hate you for it and walk away from your business. Rants on social media are what you do when you pretend to care, because they do nothing but destroy everything you are working for in your life. If you want to take action, then take action, but do not waste your time and energy fooling yourself that a political rant on social media changes does anything but lower your check book balance.


  • Continue your online support for at least ninety-days then use it as a support tool going forward. The day you reopen, do not cut off the online systems you established while closed. The terrified third will cling to those for the full ninety days and maybe beyond.


  • Continue to offer this support at full price. Do not discount for online training. Most owners have found online is more work than owning a real gym so charge what you charge for the work you are doing. Use online after the ninety days to develop a total support system for the clients based upon four factors: training them, advanced nutrition beyond weight loss, restoration of natural movement and mind/body/stress reduction. This should consist of a six day a week, two to three posts per day of adding value to your elite clients meaning those who are doing one on one and small group. This also becomes part of your marketing campaign.


  • It is worth saying again, your primary contact with clients should be based upon what you can do to keep me safe in your gym. Every single post either builds your brand or works against. It is harsh, but five years of a good gym brand, and your person brand, can be destroyed with one crazy rant on social media.


The gyms in the states that reopened early, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona are paying the price. These states took the political stance that your right not to wear a mask or protect others is your choice and gym owners followed this lead… and paid the price. Many gyms that reopened without masks and without social distancing opened with that core memberships that feels the same way, but we forget that this client keeps the rest of your business away.

It does not matter how you personally feel about this as an individual, but it is worth considering how your clients feel about the issue. For every client sitting in a gym that defied recommended safety measures, there is one or even two at home refusing to enter an environment they feel is not safe.

Again, error on the side of the most terrified clients when you open, and the rest will follow along. You can always, as stated several times earlier, back off in a few weeks once you create the optics you are doing more than any other of the gyms in the area to keep your clients safe.

Perception is reality. You creating the illusion I am safe, even if you personally think it is too much, it makes all clients feel you did the right thing, instead of being an angry owner only catering to his loyal followers but ignoring two thirds of the client base.

A final side note is to aggressively chase lost clients now in the market. There will be a large number of potential clients floating around that either will not go to their gym because they do not feel safe, such as chain clients, or potential business from closed gyms.

 We have found success using a six-week mini membership as a tool to chase these clients. Use testimonials with clients stating, “I love this gym, I feel safe here and the training is beyond my expectations.” Couple this with the six-week mini membership where you can come try us, see if we are the gym for you and compare us to where you are or what you lost.

 Pricing depends on your gym and area, but somewhere between $149-299 would be a good starting point for most of you. Include a sample of everything you offer for this price including one on one.

 Also give existing clients a chance to upgrade for ninety days to one on one. Your wordage here is that if you feel safer with just you and a coach upgrade for a few months and you can go back to your regular membership when this all settles down

 The situation is changing by the day. Practice smart business and understand if you make through that ninety-day reopening window you are on your way to the best fall you might have ever had since your competition is staggering and you are ready to go.

Thank you everyone.




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