A Plan To Reopen Your Gym
Though there’s no real end in sight to the COVID crisis, some governments are discussing plans to reopen non-essential businesses.
On the surface, that seems like good news. I’m always happy to have any reason to be optimistic, but let’s temper this news with caution. Here’s the reality in the U.S.:
– Thirty percent of renters didn’t pay their rent last month.
– Unemployment is creeping toward 15 percent.
– Consumer confidence is at an all-time low.
– Your gym will probably reopen under restrictions (a small number of people allowed in at once or per day).
– Shelter in place will become the knee-jerk response of every government on Earth.
My purpose is always to bring clarity, not to add to the noise. So I’m going to give you a clear plan to reopen your business—whether you’re able to do that in a week or six months.
Constructing a Plan
When we build a plan, we do it on three levels:
– The vision level (we define the end goal clearly).
– The strategy level (broad strokes—”Here are the things we’re going to do to get there”).
– The tactical level (“Here are the specific actions we’re going to take, one by one”).
When you think about all the things you could do—mostly tactics—you can feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. Starting with the vision will guide us to the correct tactics. Then you focus only on the things that will get you over the finish line.
When it reopens, your gym will have a mix of in-person clients and online training clients.
These steps are listed in order:
1. Retain revenue by retaining members.
2. Recover revenue by offering different services to current members.
3. Grow revenue by attracting new members.
4. Grow your business through this new revenue stream and bring people back to in-person training.
1. Customize your group programming for your members or upgrade them to personalized programming. Offer a group gathering every day or two (it can be a group workout but doesn’t have to be).
2. Ask your top clients, “What do you need most from me right now?” Then tailor your service depending on their answers. You don’t have to give more for the same rate, and you definitely shouldn’t start giving equipment or advice away for free. During this crisis, you might feel more like a mentor than a coach. If your clients need a service, provide it for them. If you’re not qualified to provide a service they need, find a partner who is. If they need a product (supplements or skipping ropes), sell it to them. If you don’t have the product, find a partner who will manage the process for you. I like Driven Nutrition and Forever Fierce.
3. Start attracting new customers using Affinity Marketing, then turn to organic marketing online, and then learn how to use paid ads. Don’t just jump straight to the last one because it seems sexy.
4. When public spaces reopen, start offering group workouts outdoors as soon as possible.
5. Assume your clients will still need to do at least some of their workouts at home for the next few months, and set up a system like the Flex model (which we teach in our Incubator).
Average Vs. Extraordinary
Not every gym is going to do these things. As hard as it is to accept, not every gym is going to make it.
If you talk with other gym owners a lot, like I do, you might feel as if you have to “keep up with the Joneses.” You might feel as if you have to read every comment in every Facebook group or risk missing some vital new idea. You might feel as if you have to do everything instead of working really hard on the right things. It’s just how we’re wired.
Average gym owners aren’t going to have this plan. They’re going to get overwhelmed, and it’s a bad time to be average.
Over the last few years, I’ve watched the gym industry polarize. The best gyms are growing faster than ever, and everyone else is falling further behind.
Three years ago, the “average” gym had about 120 members, 5,000 square feet of space, ran only classes and barely broke even. But that middle is disappearing. And this crisis puts pressure on the whole system, causing “the middle” to disappear even faster.
What’s causing the separation? Data and best practices. While the top gyms constantly measure, test and refine, the worst gyms just try to do everything. That means the best gyms are getting ready to sprint. The worst are getting ready to close.
I think everyone understands this. But yet it’s hard to avoid being average. It’s hard to stand out. It’s hard to differentiate yourself and say, “I’m not like you.” When other gym owners criticize or attack you—or even copy you—it’s hard not to engage, right? Because we think we’re wandering away from the safety of the tribe.
The tribe says, “Just do video classes. You’ll be fine.” The best gyms don’t accept that because they hear “average.”
The tribe says, “You can’t coach someone without a barbell.” The best gyms know that isn’t true because they hear “average.”
It’s also hard to tell people, “You don’t fit.”
More than ever, it’s critical to surround yourself with the right people. Not every staff person is going to take this next step with you. Nor will every client. Speaking for Two-Brain, we’ve gotten a lot more picky about who we invite into the program (though we’ll still take a free call to help anyone).
Read: “Why We Don’t Take Every Client (and Neither Should You)
A Fresh Start With Swifter Ascension
The bottom line: No one is coming to save you. It’s really up to you. You’re back in Founder Phase again—the first stage of entrepreneurship.
What’s that mean? It means you’re the primary service provider. It means you have to make daily contact with each of your clients. It means you have to direct all your energy into relationships. It means you have to ask your clients “how can I help you today?” and expect the answer to change each week.
It also means you’re free.
It means you can make up your business from scratch.
It means you don’t have to adhere to the dogma or the preconceived notion of what’s best anymore.
It means you can rebuild. And this time you can do it on a foundation of data instead of guesses.
You know I’m going to say, “Get a mentor.” All your heroes have mentors.
But if you can’t get a mentor, ask for proof before you act.