Lockdown comes to an end tomorrow! We can hear the sighs of relief and excitement across the country.
And although this now means the introduction of a stricter tier system, you can begin to relax a little knowing that no matter whereabouts in the country you may be – your facility is able to open it’s doors again, whilst following the guidelines appropriate to your location.
It’s important to remember that crisis similar to those of the COVID-19 pandemic leave a long-term psychological impact on people and therefore even now you have been able to open your gyms doors again and some type of normality begins to resume, it will take time for many people to adjust back to how things were before.
Digital experiences such as online classes which have replaced typical in-person gym experiences are likely to stick around long after the crisis and therefore adjusting your focus to meet the needs of your potential members ‘new normal’ will be crucial. You would be wrong to assume all customers will return to the buying place they were at prior to COVID-19, so start turning your attention to how you can amend your marketing strategy to suit the new needs of your audience to give your gym the greatest chance of attracting new members during this difficult time.
YOU CAN ALSO DOWNLOAD OUR COVID-19 MARKETING STRATEGY GUIDE
If you don’t have time to read the blog, then you can always download our COVID-19 marketing strategy guide right now, and discover ways in which you can market your gym during the ongoing pandemic to continue attracting new members.
ANTICIPATE YOUR MEMBERS’ NEEDS
Although you will be opening your gym’s doors again, many people will still be uncertain about returning. The lockdowns were only ever a temporary measure, however their introduction forced people into an unusual situation where their daily habits and routines came to a halt. This subsequently resulted in many people’s needs changing meaning that even once lockdown is in the rear view mirror, not everyone will feel comfortable returning to an environment like a gym, even with social distancing and increased hygiene measures in place. Underlying health conditions may also prevent some of your typical audience from returning and therefore it is crucial to identify individual consumer needs and take steps to address or prevent them before they impact your membership numbers.
Offering online fitness alternatives enables you to engage with members and continue providing health and fitness guidance to the community. So start thinking about what you can offer members on a purely virtual basis, so people who aren’t yet ready to dive back into in-person workouts and group classes can still utilise many other aspects of being a gym member whilst they slowly ease back into the notion of attending your facility.
CREATE HIGH QUALITY ONLINE CONTENT
Gyms and fitness studios across the country have quickly turned their attention to harnessing the skills of their instructors and person trainers to provide digital workouts and classes for their members.
You as a gym owner have the opportunity during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to create an entirely new membership option to entice new customers, accessing your fitness guidance entirely online. Even if your current and potential members aren’t ready to return to your facility once you have reopened, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to engage with your fitness content at all. So allow people the opportunity to continue engaging with your gym on terms that they are comfortable with.
LIVE STREAM WORKOUTS
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or through video conferencing apps like Zoom; live streaming is a great tool to reach out to your members! Trainers could run classes at the same time each day. Get your members involved and for those that aren’t members of your gym now, it’s a great way to capture their attention and convince them to join your club even if their not yet ready to attend in person. You can also record these live streams and turn them into on-demand video content for your members to continue utilising.
Use pre-recorded workout videos to offer your members a form of exercise that they can do at any time. Those with children may not be able to join you during your live streams at specific times, so it’s a great way to engage those with time constraints. You can use video through an email campaign to reach only your members or reach out to non-members through social, similar to the live stream workouts.
Provide healthy recipes to keep your members engaged and to help them carry on their health transformation that they started at your club.
BE PRESENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
With people spending more time at home than ever, the time they also spend on their mobile devices is increasing and the use of online platforms is on the rise.
Video-streaming platforms and social media allow people to connect with the outside world and stay informed so it’s the perfect time to build your gyms online presence with social media marketing.
The use of social media allows you to connect with current members as well as being used as a selling mechanism so be sure to show all sides of your business, as you don’t know who will be taking notice! Post regularly, with varied content and you’re sure to get engagement from current and potential members.
Having a strategy and plan in place with be much more effective than posting spontaneously, so get your team together and start brainstorming some ideas and mapping out a social media schedule.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Re-introduce your team and let them tell their stories of lockdown
- Share how you looked after your staff and members during lockdown
- Workouts targeted at easing back into the gym after an extended break
- Motivational quotes
- Members transformation stories
- Member goals
- Share how you’re staying COVID safe
- Class instructor social media takeover to show behind the scenes
KEEP YOUR MEMBERS SAFE
When your gym or studio is ready to reopen, one of the biggest obstacles you may face is reassuring people that your facility is safe to return to or attend and that they should feel comfortable in doing so.
During your closure you should have paid particular attention to communicating your plans to keep your gym COVID safe utilising your social media channels, your website, emails and SMS. And it’s just as important to continue communicating your safety protocols once you have reopened to ensure your current members and potential new members feel safe in considering coming to your gym.
Clearly define the measure you are putting in place and go the extra mile above social distancing and 1 way systems. It’s time to focus on your customer experience more than ever and focus on instilling confidence in your members and provide them with the means to cope with the situation. Be empathetic to those people who are slightly more concerned and reserved than others and prioritise safety first and foremost. This might disrupt how your gym and any classes were previously run, but by taking the approach of putting your members above all else and providing them with the guidance and reassurance they need, your gym will stand out and you’ll be able to build a loyal customer base.
- Use the provided hand sanitiser on entry to the gym and regularly throughout your workout
- Clean all equipment using the provided cleaning stations before and after each workout set
- Socially distance at all times and don’t gather in groups
- Respect other members’ space during their time in the facility
- Arrive dressed in your gym gear, ready for your workout
- Limit your workout to one hour to allow as many people to use the facility as possible
- Follow any signage that you see throughout the facility
- If you have COVID symptoms or have been in contact with someone with COVID symptoms, then do not enter the gym for the following 14 days
- If any time you see anyone not following the rules, then please inform a member of staff
TARGET YOUR CANCELLATIONS
Unfortunately due to the overwhelming unpredictability of COVID-19 and no realistic sense of what the future may hold, many people have opted to cancel their gym memberships for a range of reasons.
Although some businesses have been fortunate enough to reopen and employees return to work, there are still many who face uncertainty over their employment and may be place on the government furlough scheme resulting in a real fear of economic downturn. This has resulted in people trying to save where they can and as a result cancelling monthly subscriptions, such as gym memberships, as it is not deemed as an essential monthly outgoing.
Even if you gave your members the option to freeze their memberships during your temporary closures, you will have noticed that some of your members will have proceeded with cancelling their memberships anyway as a precautionary measure.
For the majority of these people, their financial positions will have hopefully become more certain than it was back in March and they might be ready to start back up their monthly subscriptions again. So now you are ready to reopen again, turn your attention to marketing to those people who cancelled their membership pre-COVID. Create a tailored (and discounted!) re-joining offer for them and send out targeted emails and SMS to try and entice them back to your facility.
BUILD YOUR LOCAL NETWORK
With so many businesses having been effected by COVID-19, it is important to try and lift one another up. Although this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, a marketing strategy you might like to introduce is partnering up with other businesses in your local area to see if you can leverage off each other’s customer bases.
Perhaps there is a café just around the corner from your gym, you could offer their customers a discounted reopening membership rate and in return they could offer one free coffee to all of your members. In times of hardship like 2020 has seen, these types of cross promotion can lead to an ideal win-win scenario where your gym not only benefits, but you can also help keep another local business afloat as well.
And you don’t have to just think about businesses within a certain mile radius if you’d rather spread your net a bit wider. Consider partnering with online companies as well. Small businesses need support now more than ever, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership agreement may be what you both need. This would work particularly well with a small fitness boutique or emerging protein supplement. Don’t be afraid to think big!
SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
No one can predict what’s to come next in this global pandemic, or when it will come to an end. But one thing is for certain, everyone, including businesses (large and small), families and individuals have felt the effects of it and have had to face it’s challenges head on.
Something that is so easy to say and has a large impact is thank you. Don’t forget to thank your members for sticking by you. Many of your members will have returned to your gym when you were able to reopen following the first lockdown and will have continued to support you when the news of a secondary temporary closure was announced.
They have followed the rules and guidelines set out in your facility to ensure that everyone was in a safe environment. It is due to their commitment and vigilance that your gym was able to successfully reopen once and it will be down to them again when your gym reopens again in the next few days.
Many of your members will have also opted to continue paying their membership fees in order to take advantage of any online classes you offered during the lockdown. They are the lifeblood of your business and without them, you simply wouldn’t be here.
So show them your appreciation for their ongoing support, it may be something as simple as sending an email. But make sure if feels personal. Posting on your social media is all well and good, but it often lacks that personal touch. So be sure to get in touch with your members on what feels like a more 1-2-1 basis, you might want to offer them some freebies, but that isn’t always necessary. Sometimes all it takes is a simple email expressing your gratitude.
Do what’s best for you and your fitness business.
WE WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK
For the majority of gym owners, this will be your second time reopening following a lockdown this year. This is likely to make you feel much more confidence about your reopening, although it doesn’t mean the fitness industry is out of the woods just yet. Navigating your way through the rest of this pandemic will continue to present you with challenges, and ensuring that you maintain healthy memberships numbers will be your main focus.
We at Ashbourne Membership Management are here to help you every step of the way, so please do not hesitate to get in touch and see how we can partner together to take your gym to the next level.
And until then, we wish you the absolute best of luck in reopening your gym and keeping your members healthy and happy.