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:
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.