Since the onset of the global pandemic, tech has taken over. Companies like Peloton, Mirror, and Tempo have made it easy and fun to train from your living room. And it begs the question: Should brick-and-mortar studio owners be worried that at-home training will put them out of business?
Both Stu and Raechel don’t think so. But they do advise studio owners to take out their pen and paper, and do some big-time R&D on these new competitors.
Adapt or Die
At-home workout programs aren’t something to be feared—they’re something to be studied. For studio owners to survive and thrive amid this big tidal wave of change in the industry, they’ve got to learn about their newest competitor: The Fully-Produced, At-Home Workout Program.
So call up your Peloton-obsessed (or Mirror-obsessed or Tempo-obsessed) friend, buy them coffee, and interview them. Why do they love their Peloton? What makes it great? And perhaps most importantly, what’s missing? (And if you can, spend a couple hours yourself on the bike/treadmill so you can gather an opinion.)
Do some investigative journalism and find out what the weakness of this program is. Be curious. Then see if your studio can solve for that weakness.
Beef Up Your Offerings
In the supermarket/grocery store industry, a big trend recently popped up: Grocery delivery. Several companies emerged that have shoppers buy groceries for customers and deliver them to their homes. Supermarkets, smartly, jumped on that trend and started offering at-home delivery services of their own. Or they bought these start-ups and integrated them into their model.
As studio owners, we can learn from this market disruption. Instead of sticking with our in-person classes only, (and waiting for the fall of tech) we can offer online options in addition to in-person offerings.
You can turn to what’s called an omni-channel approach, and offer in-person training, online training, and a hybrid option that allows members to do both in-person and online training.
Tech Is Your Friend
Some studio owners might be worried that tech is ruining their in-person fitness business. But it certainly doesn’t have to. It should actually make your business more profitable and efficient.
Like, where would we be without studio management software? (And if you’re still operating without studio management software, hit us up.) Perhaps now, more than ever before, tech is a huge part of how we can operate safely.
With options like “Pick a Spot,” your members can book their bike/reformer/squat rack/ etc. so they can socially distance. And you know exactly how many people are coming to that class. Without tech, operational capacity becomes a stressful guessing game.
Tech also helps you identify trends within your own business. Using attendance tracking, you can see what days/times are the least profitable for your studio. So you can see, for example, that on Thursdays, your studio’s attendance in the evenings is really poor. So perhaps on Thursday nights, you offer a complimentary Open House for prospects.
Or maybe you offer Thursday evening classes at a lower rate.
So many other industries (airlines do this very well) pay attention to slow times, and they optimize those times as best they can. But without tech, this would be virtually (pun intended!) impossible.
As soon as the crisis—whatever it might be—happens, be quick to address it.
One of the ways you can act fast is by building out the skeleton of a crisis email. If your state, for example, experiences hurricanes, you can have a “hurricane crisis” draft email ready to go. Then you can fill in the blanks based on the specific situation.
And don’t just be timely in your post/email. Be timely in your responses as well. If someone emails you back or posts a comment, be ready to respond immediately. During a crisis, the more available you are, the better.
Communicate—and then Communicate More
Don’t worry about sending out too many emails or messages. There’s no such thing as over-communication when it comes to crisis communication.
Have a Proofreader—but not for Grammatical Purposes
Tone is really hard to accomplish in copywriting. Even the best copywriters in the world have trouble conveying the right tone. So when you’re writing an email that deals with a sensitive circumstance, have a trusted advisor read your content. Make sure that the message you’d like to get across actually gets across.
And if You Ruffle Feathers…
Getting in a war in the comments section of a public post will probably end poorly. If you upset someone, or if someone has a differing opinion, or if you offend a reader, take it offline. Call them. Work it out in a one-on-one setting, preferably over the phone or in person. Remember: Tone is tough to accomplish in writing. So for effective conflict resolution, leave the keyboard behind.
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