Regain control over situation.

COVID-19 has forced many of the gyms and sports clubs to shut down for quarantine for months which caused them to postpone memberships and lay off a large number of their employees. Getting back to shape afterward might be a tough task for many. 

However, a number of steps can be taken by those who are eager to return to business  and win back the loyalty of their members and staff.

  • Renew memberships and prepare promotions

Give your members more reasons to go back to your gym. If they have member cards, offer them free membership programs or discounts on the membership renewal. Be sure to remind your members about the options they have to encourage them to take action. Member-only promotions for packages (for example, fitness + spa) are another great option to boost the clients’ incentive to return to the gym.

  • Send e-mails, keep your members informed

Reach out a caring hand to your members on the website and via regular loyalty e-mails with the warm welcome back messages that remind them about the options they have and include the promotions available for them as loyal clients.

  • Launch a social media campaign to show what your gym is doing for safety

During the quarantine, many wellness centers have suspended the use of social media as an advertising tool. In the effort to get clients back, your existing members can be one of your biggest assets in reaching this goal. They have been going to your locations for months and years, leaving the reviews, as well as telling their friends and co-workers about new equipment or great programs offered in the fitness club they belong to. Thus, they are the ones that can help to spread a word about you and reintroduce your fitness club back to the social networks. 

  • Let influencers know about the outstanding measures you take

Reviews and referrals with loyalty programs are great tools in the mission to make a fresh impression on the existing and new members. Don’t forget about sports influencers who will be glad to recommend a really responsible gym for their viewers and subscribers.

  • Strengthen your community 

The sense of belonging to a community that holds the same values is one of the strongest tools for reinforcing your membership community. Share your brand values with the members and new clients via onsite pop-ups or welcome e-mails to remind them of what your brand stands for (for example, a green environment, helping the ones in need, etc.). 

As an example, if you let the members know that a certain percentage from the membership payment will go for helping to find a vaccine against COVID-19, they might  have a feeling of belonging to the community that is fighting against the dangerous illness.

The causes can be temporary or long-term but sharing these values with the members and new clients, as well as providing them with the possibility to take actions on a cause will let the members know that you and your brand treats them as if you are all a family. Therefore, this awareness will work toward building a strong member community around your brand.

  • Brief your employees to be caring, while keeping a distance

Exceptional customer service has always been one of the most important public relations tools. People have been in self-isolation for months and lean on a personal touch when coming for getting a service. Thus, focus on making the clients happy as they enter the facility. First impression matters, and people at the front desk are the ones who are responsible for making sure the clients feel welcomed. A personal touch, such as having a small talk, will give the clients a sense of belonging and help to rebuild strong customer relationships.

  • Facial masks

Equip your employees with facial masks and offer masks to your customers. You may also explain that wearing masks lowers the risk of a virus contagion to 5%.

  • Express tests for antibodies

One more example of a superb customer service would be to offer the clients express tests for antibodies. An express test for COVID-19 can be also provided for a person experiencing a body temperature higher than normal. 

  • Random smell tests

Smell loss is one of the most common COVID-19 symptoms. You can prepare a couple of disposable jars with different scents and ask visitors if they can smell something. That what seems like sort of a funny action will help you to increase your gym safety even further.

  • Keep a distance between your training equipment

To gain your members back and increase your clients’ base, it is important to have a product, a service, or conditions that make your brand stand out among others. Check if a distance between your training equipment is about 2.5 meters to show your clients they have enough space to be safe even if someone is infected.

  • Keep a distance at a group training or make it personal for a while

Social distancing will be a continuous requirement for quite some time in the upcoming months. Start with reopening strength and cardio areas where you can ensure proper physical distancing. Gym facilities could be a tough place to enable social distancing requirements for many fitness companies. However, there are a few options that any given facility might try to do  in keeping compliance with the requirements.

One of the approaches is to limit the capacity of classes and groups allowing for more space among the members during the class. Another option is to rearrange the equipment around the training area to increase the spacing as much as possible. As an alternative (if the weather conditions and environment allow), the fitness classes could be offered in open areas outside the facilities. There is a better chance to keep group members on a required distance between each other in the park, for instance. 

  • Install sanitizers

Install hand disinfectants around the facility in public areas, in the gym area, as well as in the changing rooms. Make sure there is always access to soap and paper towels for washing the hands in the restrooms in addition to the hand dispensers. 

  • Sanitize your premises

Personal safety after the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest concerns of most people. The fear of getting infected is the root cause of some members’ reluctance to go back to the facilities. One of the most important steps to take is to ensure that the facilities are sanitized regularly and the members have all the necessary sanitizing equipment for personal hygiene. 

Sanitizing the equipment and facilities on a regular schedule is a must. Make regular 15–20 minutes breaks to allow the cleaning staff to sanitize the equipment, changing rooms, showers, and restrooms, along with the public areas, such as corridors and front desk areas, elevators, etc. One of the great tools that can help with this task is a UV disinfection robot (you can check what this tool offers here). Operating in a semiautomatic mode, the robot with inbuilt ultraviolet (UV) lights disinfects rooms and surfaces, as well as effectively destroys harmful microorganisms causing the COVID-19 disease.

  • Ventilate your facility

Ventilation in gyms was very important before the pandemic, but now it is even more crucial. Keeping the air fresh not only helps your customers to achieve better results, but also lowers the risk of infection. You should install additional filters if you have a forced ventilation system, as well. 

  • Temperature measurement at the entrance

The pandemic of COVID-19 has proved the necessity to constantly monitor the body temperature of people in public areas. Fitness facilities are the places where this kind of monitoring is a must-have tool for ensuring that there are no possibly infected visitors or staff members on the premises. The market already offers a number of monitoring systems that allow for  installing cameras in the key point around the facility and set up continuous monitoring of the premises. One of the recommended tools is the Fever Screener solution.  Powered by artificial intelligence, the Fever Screener system effectively responds to high body temperature and sends immediate alerts to help you act early.

  • Educate your members

A well-informed client is a loyal client. Make sure the members are aware of the steps taken by your facility to ensure their safety. At the front desk or in the changing rooms, place the posters with the key information and offer additional fliers if anyone asks for more details regarding the measures taken by the facility. Inform the clients about the schedule for cleaning and sanitizing the facilities.

On the website, there could be a video or a chat-bot presenting the information on where the personal hygiene products, such as soap and disinfectants are available and instruct the visitors on how to keep themselves and others around safe. 

  • Educate your staff

Getting back to work in a post-pandemic environment might be stressful for many employees. Educate your staff about any changes that have been made in their job responsibilities. 

If there is a monitoring system installed, such as Fever Screener, make sure you have dedicated staff members responsible for monitoring and maintaining the system with clear instructions on what they should do in case of an emergency. 

Provide clear and transparent instructions on how to keep themselves and people around them safe while on the premises. Make sure that all staff members have access to the personal sanitizing equipment and are instructed on using it regularly on the specific time intervals.

  • Use online training software

Keep in touch with those who are not able to join you onsite still. Use a white-label software to perform training for them, help them choose basic equipment to stay in shape. You can create a video program and share it with your members. 

Not only will you keep relationships with your clients, but also be one of the first companies to prepare for a new reality. Online training may now become your new product and a revenue workflow.

Below is a list of online training platforms with detailed descriptions of their features.

Online training platforms
PT distinction Trainerize Exercize My PT hub
https://www.ptdistinction.com/ https://www.trainerize.com/ https://www.exercise.com/ https://www.mypthub.net/
Price $20–$80 $5–$60 not public $20–$49
Free trial yes yes yes yes
Workout recording and broadcasting yes yes yes yes
Communication with clients Notifications and messages Messages Comments Notifications and messages
Workout scheduling yes yes yes yes
Custom brand application yes for $99 yes yes
Mass e-mails yes no no no
Assessments yes no yes yes
Nutrition planning/tracking yes yes yes yes
Features Marketing resources,

habit coaching

Integrated payments Includes a gym management software Gym owners can track attendance,

real-time alerts, and feedback

Following this list of suggested steps will help to re-engage existing customer base and win over new clients as part of the customer retention strategies. Customizing these steps to your own business model and facilities will help to keep your clients active and engaged and will become a driving force to help battling the aftermath of the post-pandemic crisis and getting your clients’ lives and your business back to normal.

Summary 

The following table is a summary of all action points described in the article and provides a high level overview of possible costs and  effective time ranges for a business. The cost and time will depend on various factors such as size of the business, government support offered for overcoming the crisis as well as changing behavior patterns of the people in the area due to the long-term self-isolation and quarantine.

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Daria Lapus

Author Daria Lapus

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