2020 was a heck of a year!
On March 13th my family and I just closed on our brand-new home. We were so excited for our new future. On March 16th total lockdown and all my business forced to close. Terrified would be a gross understatement.
Like most of the world’s gym owners we were not truly prepared for the pandemic. Let alone that it would last this long. We had to find opportunities, human capacity, and be creative FAST.
Here is a step-by-step plan of the ideology that saved a once thriving gym business and rebuilt another.
1. Communicate with Empathy
Your clients and your employees need leadership, guidance, and direction. After All they are going through the same thing you are just from their perspective. Communicate honestly, speak in specifics, and make it about them. We told our clients and staff we were going to have to navigate some rough seas, but we were in it together.
2. Don’t Sell…Build
All businesses sell something. Fitness is our commodity. The real power of a business is in its culture and community. The relationships you forge are stronger than any sale. My business partner Dan and I called each and every client personally and spoke to them about our situation and told them how much we appreciated and needed their support.
3. Positive Vision Positive Action
We needed to rally the troops and fast. As a leader my emotional state can be contagious. It’s critically important to paint a picture of positivity and progress. Use strong verbiage like: We WILL, we CAN, this TEAM, and our COMMUNITY to galvanize the sense of camaraderie and commitment to doing everything and anything it took to survive.
4. Financial Scrutiny
We looked at every penny and had to make some extremely hard decisions about services, vendors, and employees. The very first thing we did was cancel our credit cards and have them reissued without carrying over any automated payments. That way we could go through them one by one and prioritize their importance. We spoke clearly to our staff as to what was ahead and cut everywhere we could. Lastly, we renegotiated with our banks, credit cards, and vendors. If they wanted to continue to do business with us, they needed to bend a little to help.
5. Creativity INK
As a business, we still must generate revenue and have to find ways to provide extreme value at a time when we were closed or at extremely limited capacity. We scaled our entire business online for virtual training in a matter of days. We created a virtual portal for all clients to continue their training at home. We lent all our equipment except what we needed to film workouts. We ran a live Zoom/FaceTime training session in the living rooms of our clients, hosted virtual nutrition seminars, virtual community meet ups, virtual trivia night, and even hosted virtual charity events that generated over $20,000. The team thought of everything we could do to keep our community engaged.
Although this has proved to be the toughest year ever in the fitness industry, there is opportunity and scale everywhere. Leadership is the critical component of businesses that have and will survive. Double down on your human capacity. Both within yourself, your employees, and even amongst your close networks. Your ROI on money and time invested in good humans should be 20x. You can’t get that with social media ads and certainly not in pill form.