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How UpLaunch helps gyms communicate during a crisis

Hilary Achauer

Sarah Muehler and her husband opened Mac-Town CrossFit in McPherson, Kansas in December 2012. They built up their membership over the years and started off 2020 with about 150 members.

Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down their gym, Sarah used UpLaunch for lead gathering and nurturing as well as member retention.

“When we hit that 115 or 120 (member) mark I just couldn’t keep up. I was personally trying to keep in touch with everybody all the time. If we didn’t see someone for a few days, I was responsible for that retention and it was just too much,” Sarah said.

So she signed on with UpLaunch and her job got much easier.

“From lead to consultation to nurturing, it just was so simple. We were at a place where we needed simple and UpLaunch just really made it easy,” she said.

She said her members appreciated the UpLaunch content.

“Our people just loved the emails they were getting and all the information and stuff, and that was just content I didn’t have to worry about and create on my own,” she said.

Surviving the pandemic

Business was going well — they’d built up a tight-knit community in their small town — and then the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the country.

Mac-Town CrossFit took action early. They cancelled regular classes before the state ordered them to close their doors, then divided their members into teams and offered each person a one-on-one personal training session once a week. Each coach was assigned a day at the gym and people came in one at a time for their free session.

That lasted a week.

Once all the gyms in the area were ordered to close, Sarah started lending out dumbbells and kettlebells to the members. Mac-Town began running four Zoom classes a day and started a “Quaranteam” accountability challenge.

Knowing that many of their members had lost their jobs or were unable to work because of businesses temporarily closing, Sarah and her husband decided to drop their rates and create two new membership levels.

Prior to the COVID-19 shut-down, an unlimited membership at Mac-Town CrossFit was $115 a month. Now the highest membership tier is $95 a month and it includes unlimited Zoom classes, SugarWOD access, and one virtual personal training session a week.

The next tier — normally $95 a month for 12 classes a month — is $65 a month for Zoom classes and SugarWOD access.

“We looked at our budget and we'll be fine for a couple of months if this goes on,” Sarah said about the new pricing structure. She said she tried to find a happy medium that would allow people to keep their memberships and Mac-Town to keep operating.

“We wanted people to still be a part of the community — we have a very strong community and everybody is very connected,” she said.

Sarah said an important part of Mac-Town CrossFit’s COVID-19 survival plan is UpLaunch’s Broadcast Center, which makes it possible for Sarah to easily communicate with her members.

All the announcements about the classes and membership pricing changes have gone through UpLaunch’s bulk messaging tool.

“We’ve gotten good open rates,” Sarah said, “and I love that we can see who has opened the email and what the click rates are and stuff like that.”

If she sees that only half the recipients opened the email she’ll make sure to share the information on Facebook so it’s seen by everyone. She said the Broadcast Center also makes it easy to send messages to sub-groups of members.

“It’s just so easy to get in and find people and get specific about who is getting the right information,” Sarah said.

“Just making sure everybody has the information they need is why UpLaunch, for us, is so valuable,” she said.  

While the last few weeks have been stressful and full of uncertainty, Sarah said she appreciates all the companies stepping up to help small gym owners.

“UpLaunch and PushPress and Two-Brain have been saving people's businesses,” Sara said.

“I think (these companies) just operate under a lot of integrity and put us first as far as what we need. It’s been stressful but not anywhere near what it would be if we were trying to scramble and figure it out on our own. I’ve never felt like we just had to figure this out. There’s so much information out there that people like UpLaunch and PushPress have been sharing,” she said.

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