Tragically in the last few months, some gyms have experienced the sadness of a member passing away due to complications arising from COVID-19. Our thoughts go to those facilities; those members; and their loved ones.
Fortunately those sad loses are relatively few. But the cumulative number of members lost (and that will be lost) as a result of COVID-19 is way higher.
It is relatively rare to meet a private training gym owner that hasn’t come from a personal training background. Most of us start our facilities as we have outgrown our successful 1-on-1 PT coaching.
We are “people people”. We love the interaction with our clients. We love to help guide them to success, and to share in the excitement of their achievements. We enjoy and value the bonds and relationships that we build.
Around the world, our customers are in slightly differing stages of rebuild after a slight easing of lockdown.
For many, the initial “gung-ho 30%” were emailing the moment that our country’s administration said that gyms could re-open.
The “cautious 30%” have also been making a steady return and, in many facilities, are almost fully back in-the-fold.
But what about the final “nervous 30%”? For many facilities, these members are the “forgotten victims of COVID”.
This week I have heard conversations or seen postings from several different facilities, all of whom have expressed in different ways that “they are done with Zoom and online, and they’re just concentrating on their in person sessions”.
To a large extent, this understandable. Online is tough. It is hard to motivate and keep people engaged. The camaraderie is more tricky to build. As “people people” we enjoy and crave human interaction.
But, hang on a minute… Is this not our moment of truth?
Let’s just trot through our sales pitch in our heads a minute. Well-being? Check. Emotional support? Check. Always here for your? Check.
Yet, just a couple of weeks post lockdown we’re ritually burning our webcams and discarding ~30% of our previously loyal members – reducing the service they receive, and pressuring them to return to in-person training before they feel comfortable doing so. And, let’s not forget, many might be carers of vulnerable people and it simply isn’t responsible for them to return to such an environment just yet.
What happens to these forgotten members? [Ed: Spoiler alert] When they do feel comfortable to return to the gym, they ain’t coming back to you!
Whilst many of us might share these sentiments, it is a luxury that few of us can afford. 30% is a big chunk of revenue to lose. We’re in a challenging market where literally everyone is fighting to re-open and re-build. Facebook is rammed full of the usual “30-day trial” ads, and ridiculously cheap membership fees. Within just a few weeks we have returned to what we as an industry love to do – the race-to-the-bottom.
It doesn’t have to be this way
For members nervous to return to the gym, this is something that only time and gentle reassurance can fix. If you get this right (and it’s not that difficult to do so), these members will see first hand your integrity and dedication to their well-being. Consequently, they will likely be loyal, long term members, and will probably bring you additional business by way of referrals.
So, what is the trick?
Well, it’s not really a trick. It’s about working smart with the tools at your disposal.
Let’s start with the most obvious one – the sessions themselves. Okay, so perhaps you don’t necessarily want to run separate Zoom (online) and in-person sessions any more. Perhaps you don’t have the resource to do so. But, why not record your sessions or stream your sessions online as they happen? MZ-Remote is a fantastic tool for doing this, and you have little in the way of session capacity. Your remote attendees can do their workouts from home, and you can keep them motivated an engaged by their stats appearing on the live board.
You can share your recorded sessions as on-demand workouts, by uploading them into XRcize within Quoox and making them available to your members via the mobile app. You can do this by uploading your session as an exercise, adding it to an XRcize session and sharing it. If your video is large (which it may be) pop it onto YouTube or Vimeo, then import it into Quoox (nice and easy).
Assign your nervous members a Quoox nurturing scheme. Drip-feed them content; recipes; e-books; videos; workouts; meditation sessions; motivational & care messages; and a wealth of other stuff – all automatically, with you only having to set the program up once. Add scheduled reminders to the plan to give those members a call. The personal reach-out will mean masses to them, and show that you actually care – rather than just pretend to.
Fitflix is a great tool for you to upload a personal “how are you doing” video to your members. A simple 60-second personalised video to a member, provided to them via the Quoox mobile app can, on it’s own, be a game changer. It is a touching, caring thing to do – and extremely easy to execute. We have many customers using Fitflix in many creative and imaginative ways, and the content delivery is really only limited by your imagination.
Comment on your “nervous-30’s” progress. Respond promptly to their messages via the Quoox message centre. Upload a recipe video, and have your members cook it. Get them to share pictures of their dishes via the member upload. Comment positively, and share their efforts on your FB group and with other members. Make them feel special & valued, and that you miss them.
The most important thing is to be understanding. Whining that Zoom sessions are “such a hassle” is not going to win you custom. Even a percentage of those 60% who have returned will be quietly thinking “hmm… that’s poor”.
Doing what is right for your members will match what is right for your business.
Don’t turn your back on those still having a tough time. Use the tools at your disposal to support them. Your integrity will likely be rewarded with continued business and a grateful, loyal member.