Author: Rick Mayo

If you run a fitness franchise, you know adaptability is the name of the game. While one of the significant benefits of franchise ownership is that you get a ready-made system and all the support to back it, everything that doesn’t bend breaks. This is as true in the franchise environment as it is anywhere else. All around the country right now, franchise owners are experiencing that firsthand. While their traditional model may work well during “business as usual,” the COVID-19 pandemic has taken “normal” and turned it on its head. In light of this, companies are rushing to adapt.

As it turns out, adaptation is easier for fitness franchises that have taken some time to consider how to play the long game, and what being adaptable will do for the success of their business.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Benefit of Virtual Training in an Increasingly Virtual World

So, you’ve mastered your in-person and small group training efforts. But what about your virtual training offerings? While many gyms and fitness franchises don’t have virtual training programs, this pandemic has illustrated how important they indeed are. While fitness studios across the country have been forced to close, the ones with virtual training options are still doing business.

Not only is virtual training a good business option that helps insulate your cashflow against various uncertainties, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to keep your members engaged and to keep your business profitable for years to come.

If you’re interested in learning how to add virtual training to your lineup, the Alloy team recently produced a podcast on precisely this topic. Within it, we discuss how to choose the best tools to help you run your online program, as well as how to get creative with regards to equipment your clients may have in their homes. Here are a few of the takeaways from the episode:

  • Keeping your membership engaged through virtual training (1:55)
  • Tools to help you run a virtual training session (8:01)
  • Developing your program around what available equipment your client has at home (9.15)
  • How to sell online training as a premium service (11.30)
  • How online training helps you handle more clients and automate some things (16.46)
  • Why virtual training is not just about fitness, it’s a chance for life coaching as well (17:28)
  • Virtual training allows for deeper personalization of clients programs (18:32)

Virtual training is more than just fitness: it requires good communication, emotional support, and an established system for holding your clients accountable. When done correctly, it’s a premium service that can help your franchise thrive in the long run.

The Importance of Staying Flexible

We discussed the importance of staying flexible at the start of this article. And, certainly, adding virtual training options is one element of said flexibility. But what else can you do to insulate yourself against uncertainty?

Here are a few of our top tips:

  • Be innovative and proactive. The most successful fitness franchise systems make proactivity a mindset. Instead of scrambling to respond to things that come at them, they anticipate issues and make a plan to deal with them before they arise. This makes for a more resilient franchise and a less stressful way of doing business.
  • Take action fast to protect your employees and community. Great franchise systems run on people: namely, your employees and clients. When the unexpected hits, you’ve got to be flexible enough to preserve these relationships above all else. You can always make more money. It’s much harder to reestablish relationships you didn’t take the time to maintain.
  • Be open-minded with your approach to serve your customers. Rigidity doesn’t serve much of a purpose when it comes to dealing with customers. Instead, be open-minded enough to ask for and accept feedback and to adjust your plan accordingly. Your customers and employees will thank you. Keep in mind that this may take some innovation. It may mean offering services you haven’t offered before, such as virtual classes. Change is a good thing, though. It will help your company grow.
  • Prioritize communication. No matter how you choose to do it, stay on top of your methods of communication between employees and your customers. Some franchise systems have started a text line for customers to text in questions, orders, or concerns. Other companies have introduced daily/ weekly zoom calls to stay connected with their team during periods of social distancing or limited in-person interaction. Here at Alloy, we’re thankful we had our app in place for some time before all this hit. Now, we’re just taking more advantage of this feature to serve our customers better. If your company doesn’t already have other avenues of distribution, you may want to start investing some time, money, and effort into putting other options in place. We’re glad we did. Being that our app is being more utilized, we can now offer these virtual services as a long-term solution. This is the best-case scenario for your franchise business. These changes that need to be made are useful and become part of your service menu moving forward.
  • Address the challenges head-on. How you do this matters. You don’t want to come across as insensitive, but you do want to acknowledge the facts. It’s always wise to grab the bull by the horns and take control of the narrative.

Staying Successful for the Long Haul

If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, it’s that flexibility and adaptability are essential for fitness franchise systems that want to go the distance. By taking some time now to consider how you’ll respond to social or environmental uncertainty down the road, you can insulate your franchise against many challenges and ensure ongoing connection and success for you and your business.

If you need help coming up with a plan for your business, Alloy is always here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our resources or find the ones that may apply to you.

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