In the last six months, the British economy has experienced its biggest contraction since 1979. And there’s one thing that all the experts can agree on: we don’t know what the future is going to look like. Although a nationwide reprisal of complete lockdown is unlikely, spot lockdowns are already happening, and businesses have only one thing to rely on: instability.
So while we all sighed a massive sigh of relief when gyms reopened recently, this is not the time to put your feet up and watch your business return to a pre-Covid state on its own.
Forget complacency: awareness, adaptability, and resilience are the name of the game in this new (ab)normal.
Now, more than ever, we need to stick to the Cycle of Action:
Don’t just get to the implementation stage and sit there (many business owners fall prey to this temptation). This is an ongoing cycle that allows you to be responsive to changing client mindset and demand, and keep the gym at the peak of profitability.
In real terms, this means you need to speak to both your clients and staff regularly.
“Don’t celebrate too hard, or you might come a cropper.”
Get on the gym floor, meet people, get the skinny, read the room. Conduct surveys. Have regular staff meetings. Communicate with your people candidly (our Radical Candour framework is a great leadership communication tool).
Then, adjust your approach and overall strategy in response to the data that you’ve collected. Once it’s implemented, evaluate how well it’s working, and begin the cycle again.
For example: when we reopened the IFBA flagship gym W10, we knew straight off that the timetable needed to change. A few days in, the 6am sessions were dead but later sessions were often oversubscribed. This meant changing the staff rota and communicating all changes transparently so both members and employees felt like part of a collective journey.
But having done this, we won’t sit on our laurels and assume that this is the ‘right’ way forward. The sweet spot is constantly changing in response to environmental, economic, and personal factors – and we need to be alert and malleable in our reaction. Again, the timetable is just one small element of the business approach; we need to apply this thinking across the board, from marketing to sales to staffing and beyond.
Don’t get us wrong: it’s amazing news that gyms have reopened. This is a really exciting time for those fitness professionals who are ambitious and proactive to take advantage of the industry disruption to distinguish themselves. Just be aware that this is just the start – we’re not finished! Don’t celebrate too hard, or you might come a cropper.