As gyms and leisure facilities across England start to reopen, we’ve taken a look at what happened elsewhere in the world follow reopening and what you should do to futureproof your Health & Fitness business.
TSG is as a leader in global end-to-end business management solutions for the health & fitness, boutique & studio, and early education markets, so sees more data than most.
TSG’s health and fitness clients in many areas of the world (including New Zealand, Australia and France) have started to reopen. As a TSG solution, DFC looks to give you actionable insights to guide your business forward.
What happened when French gyms reopened?
Many gyms in France started to reopen from 2 June (in some areas reopening was not allowed until later in June). Following reopening, visitor trends were closer to business as usual than might have been expect:
- Nearly all TSG’s clients in France had reopened by late June
- Visits were down on 2019 but by late-June had returned closer to expected levels
Some demographics seem keener and more ready to return than others:
- In total men are getting back to the gym faster than women
- Younger members are returning at a quicker pace than those aged 30+, particularly visiting low cost or budget facilities
- The group most likely to return are men under 30, visits even surpassed 2019 levels by late-June
Local outbreaks and closures can impact the confidence of gymgoers:
- Recovery of usage levels back to those of 2019 did slow when local outbreaks and closures started to become increasingly common
Tip #1: Don’t stop building customer confidence when you reopen
Members should feel safe every time they visit your facilities. Look to ensure your business management software has the right mix of functionality to make it easy for you to ensure you operations run smoothly. From monitoring adherence to cleaning schedules, to capacity management to facilitating cashless facilities, your software should free up time to allow your people to focus on serving members.
Keep talking to your members. Outbound calling campaigns (these can be outsourced to our team) can be key to engaging members haven’t visited yet to understand why and address any concerns. Regular surveying of members online and/or by phone following visits can be key to quickly resolving any concerns or negative experiences.
Look beyond your own channels to build confidence amongst your member community – word of mouth can be much more powerful. Encourage members to ‘check in’ and share workout experiences on social media, ask for online reviews, make use of refer a friend promotions and even just ask members using your facilities to tell friends, family and colleagues about their visits.
Tip #2: Strengthen your membership offering
Members will likely have become used to working out at home or outdoors, some may even prefer this. Adding digital or virtual options into your membership packages, and even as a separate type of membership, will allow you to serve members no matter where they are working out. With lots of pureplay digital fitness services available, it is important to carefully consider the right digital options to suit and engage your membership base.
Your people can be key to the success of your digital offering. Invest in training and technology to help your instructors and trainers successfully adapt the skills that make them popular with members to a new digital setting.
With localised lockdowns a real possibility, you may need to close your doors again at short notice. Robust membership options will allow you to continue to serve members when they can’t visit in person.
Look at your scheduling to ensure you allow as many members as possible to take part in the activity they enjoy. Lack of availability due to limited capacity is likely to be a key reason for cancellations. Making small changes to schedules to reach more members can go a significant way to increasing retention.
While customers of all ages will stay away for a variety of reasons, when you look at your scheduling consider how you can help those in more vulnerable groups to attend. Perhaps add timeslots where older and more vulnerable members can attend – much like we’ve seen in supermarkets during lockdown.
Tip #3: Review your pricing structure and payments approach
The financial impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt by people of all age groups, and particularly those aged 17-24. Adjusting your operating model to incorporate more low cost and basic membership options may help you both retain existing members and attract new ones. With these members onboard it will open future opportunities to offer upgrades and cross-sell add on or one-off options (e.g. access to extra facilities).
Last but not least, knowing why members cancel and freeze memberships allows you to pinpoint those experiencing financial hardship. With this knowledge, consider taking a flexible approach focused on retention, empowering your team to offer temporary or ongoing reduced rates to retain these members.
If you want more detailed insights into what we’ve seen in France and elsewhere, as well as assistance to put these tips into action, get in touch with our team who will be happy to help.