COVID Reopening Update

Episode Summary

In this episode, we discuss the challenges and successes of the first two weeks after reopening. We also talk about some unforeseen bright spots and how to fill your funnel with new talent that is becoming readily available. 

Episode Notes

It’s been two weeks since we reopened our fitness facilities and adapting to the new normal. Rick takes us through an update on the business side of things and how we have ramped up our marketing to attract new clients since some other gyms and fitness facilities are yet to reopen.

When you reopen your training facilities, you should be prepared to support people who may not be comfortable coming in yet. Running a hybrid system of virtual and onsite training will be good for your business. 

It is also a great opportunity to find good talent in the market right now. There are many coaches and managers coming from other fitness centers and others making a career change. It’s the best time to keep your funnel full in case you need to fill a position. Even if you haven’t reopened it, you can start with the screening process and interviews. 

Listen in as we talk about our COVID reopening experience 

Key Takeaways

  • Ramping up your fitness marketing efforts after reopening to attract new clients (03:28)
  • Running a hybrid system of virtual and onsite fitness classes to cater to clients who may not be comfortable coming to the gym (08:29)
  • Expecting some hesitancy from coaches and team members about reopening and how to encourage them (09:55)
  • Taking this opportunity to find good talent in the market and hiring them once you reopen (12:47)
  • Keeping your funnel full with good candidates in case you need replacing or adding up some positions (15:22)
  • Starting the screening process virtually to eliminate candidates who don’t fit with your brand (17:41)

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Mentioned in this episode

Matt Helland

Rick Mayo 

Alloy Personal Training Franchise


COVID Reopening Update

All I’ll have to say you guys just hang in there because it is really awesome to just see people out and about. I got out again this weekend on my motorcycle in the traffic was like more so than a regular weekend it was packed, which is weird in Atlanta.

Everyone is either in one camp or the other one. One group says, you know if you go outside, everyone’s gonna die and you’re responsible. The other one is like, Hey, this never should have been a thing, it’s a government conspiracy to crush our economy. It’s just extremes.

Then there’s a whole bunch of people in the middle who are trying to do their best to navigate the same data and are now at least comfortable getting out of the house to get some fresh air. There are people being responsible about it. I don’t see people hugging or doing anything like that. I think there’s still a little bit of fear. However, or the most part, it seems like everyone’s doing okay with the new normal, it makes sense.

I’m excited to talk about an update on where we are at right now.  We’re the first state. So let’s talk about how things are going here. In general there is not much fear. Again, people are doing some different types of things to avoid each other but nothing too crazy. 

I will say from a business standpoint, it’s been good. We have ramped up our marketing again because we are open and there are clubs and fitness facilities in our market that have not opened. It’s good to be open when no one else is open. When we first were allowed to open our governor took a lot of heat. We’re just trying to navigate it as best as possible. One thing I know is that as an entrepreneur I didn’t want to sit still at a green light while traffic was blowing by me, meaning my competitors are soaking up. 

In our marketing we’re seeing leads come in, which is good. I know a buddy of mine owns a small general service health club down the road and the first weekend that he was open, he said he had more leads in three days and he had had in the previous month. I mean, signups not just leads but actual people coming in to sign up. Now granted, he’s one of the early clubs open, and I go to that club and workout. Normally it’s a club where you’ve just got general fitness normal people working out there.

I went in there the other day and there were more jacked-up dudes than I’ve ever seen. Everybody had their gym bag next to their station with weight belts and gallons of water. It turns out that the big global gym where they normally work out is not open yet. These members had purchased a membership or a month pass to this guy’s gym. The landscape of the membership was completely different. 

For example

In our place our market is typically active aging, 45 and up. Today, I came in and there were some young kids that were signing up. Their college gyms are closed. They also don’t want to go to a big gym or maybe they can’t even get in one. So here they are coming to essentially an active aging personal training brand.

Now we can accommodate them technically, but it’s not really the environment that you would typically find a 21-year-old college kid wanting to work out in. So again, there’s a benefit to being right first open and doing it safely but still being open, right? I think it’s really important. 

Right now, we’re kind of all over the board, and it’s really early innings to see and we’re in a phased rollout program, like everyone else. I would say that’s the general mood for people, once this is opened up, is that people are ready to get outside and they’re going to go to businesses, restaurants, gyms, whatever they would perceive to be safe, right and responsible. 

Once you are able, do so

Once you’re allowed to open I would say do it as soon as possible so you don’t miss out on opportunities to grab some of your markets. As far as our client load here, we started out pretty hot. We were in our busier times at around 50% capacity. Normally we’d be at 80%. That just means of the available sessions that we have on the schedule you guys how many as a percentage of those are booked and 80% as our metrics. That being said, 50% was encouraging.

I was hoping to see a bigger bump this week. When we look at our schedule, we’re up like 10%, maybe, but not it’s not as big as I’d hoped. But again, being in the active aging market, a lot of our clients have said, I’ll be back on this date. 

We’ve got those metrics to look at

It’s a little bit busier this week as the week goes along. And the next week looks really good because a lot of our folks, again being in what the government might have deemed as a high-risk category, are just saying hey, give me an extra week to see how this thing goes.

Hopefully we’re on the right side of this thing. Historically speaking, we don’t know you know, our gut is if we can be as responsible as possible that we’re going to be fine. We’re going to do what is in the best interest of our clients. They’re the ones that aren’t in are still happy to receive, we’re still doing a little bit of virtual. Giving you guys a heads up, when you do open you’re gonna have a chunk of people that aren’t comfortable coming in for the most part.

You’re going to need to service the ones that are coming in but just plan on running more of a hybrid system for a bit where you’re gonna have to dedicate some manpower to the people who are still choosing to go virtual. We decided to extend our Facebook live workouts for a couple of weeks. It is rewarding to get our client’s feedback throughout this situation, hearing from them that they just love it that we’re in their corner.

From the support realm

Sometimes people just need an outsider to talk to that’s not in their family. For example, talking about health fitness, asking questions like “how’s your eating habits going in?” There are so many things that drive health and fitness like stress and emotional responses. A lot of times the conversation ends up going there anyway, just like it does when you’re doing live what we call accountability sessions in the club. 

The client may be eating poorly. However, there are probably some other triggers that you need to identify. There are some people who use this opportunity to get really good shape instead of falling off the wagon, but those are the conversations we’re having. So again, plan on running a bit of a hybrid model when you first opened. 

Maybe there’s a hesitancy to come back to work. We’re trying to hold our guys to a different standard because we understand that they are coaches and coaches are by default leaders. However, they are still just like every other human being with fears, concerns, and anxiety. These are all the things that our clients have. We try to give them a little bit of grace. 

This is our chance to salvage revenue

This is our chance to not only salvage revenue, but also pay everyone so we ask for whatever way possible that you want to contribute to how we reopen. Whatever would make you feel safe would probably also make the client feel safe. We’re open to suggestions, but we need to be open. It just took a minute for our team to get their head around it, which makes sense. 

Take this as another side note for you guys that aren’t open. We’ve talked about this before, your team probably isn’t going to be as excited. If you have team members that are paid a very low wage, they may actually be making more with really robust government reimbursement for unemployment right now than they are working in your gym. Why would you expect them to come running back to work? That doesn’t make them bad folks, they get it but there’s gonna be some hesitancy. If you’re like me, you’re gonna be a little bit too sensitive to that. 

Our trainers are listening, some clients are going to bother you because they want to come back. It’s just a whole litany of things that are coming along with this, I’ll just say that if you are a coach, or you’re obviously an entrepreneur, you are a leader. You just have to draw a line in the sand, give people a little bit of grace and just get on with your decisions.

That’s what we’ve done. So far, it’s been really positive. We’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned a lot, even some new leadership skills that probably need to develop. 

That’s a great transition into what we’re going to talk about today. Some of you guys are still stuck in this one phase. Right now being fortunate enough to be first to give you guys a little lens into what you’re going to see when you open. That just gives us an advantage that we’re helping, we’re happy to share and help you guys in any way that we can. 

Right now

What we’re seeing that’s a real positive is that there is a lot of talent on the market. By talent, I mean coaches that are unemployed. Maybe they came from a big gym like a lifetime or here in LA Fitness or something like that. Maybe, it’s just people that have maybe taken stock of their life because they’ve had so much time to review where they are and what they want to do and they’ve decided that maybe health and fitness is a better option for them. 

So that being said, there’s a lot of people that are looking for positions right now. I would say it’s a great time to be hiring. Obviously, you want to retain everybody on your team. However, if you run into that scenario, as we did, just get out there and look for new folks. There’s a ton of them out there.

I hope that gives everybody some insight as to how things look and what we’re doing. We’ll start each podcast this way, at least for the next few weeks to let you guys know how things roll out until everybody starts to normalize a bit. I’ve seen a lot of chatter about different business models. We’ll discuss those in further episodes but hope that helps you guys.

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