Reopening your gym after a COVID-19 closure isn’t as simple as turning on the lights and blasting the music.
Part of reopening — as important as deep cleaning and social distancing — is a detailed, multi-step communication plan. We're all in uncharted territory, and your members are looking to you for information and reassurance that you're taking precautions to keep them safe. They want to know the new guidelines, if the schedule will change, and how they'll feel on that first day.
You need information from them as well. Before you open your doors you need to find out what your members think about reopening, what their new schedules are like, and what they need from you to return to the gym.
To help you out we've broken down this process into three steps.
If you can, start this strategy about two weeks before you open your doors. This gives you time to collect and analyze the results of the survey and start communicating information to your members.
The most important thing, however, is this: don't stop communicating once your doors are open!
For many people reentry will feel like joining the gym all over again. Stay in touch with them throughout the process, offering motivation and encouragement so they can reestablish their healthy habits and routine.
Step One: Conduct a Survey
You can't know how your members feel about reopening unless you ask. When you open, how many plan to return right away? What class times do they want? What precautions will make them feel comfortable?
To collect this information, send a survey to all your members using a free survey software like SurveyMonkey. Keep it short, but use the survey to take the pulse of your community and find out what you can do to make them comfortable and excited to return. You can also use the answers to help you create your new schedule.
Step Two: Reestablish Trust
Right now your members are likely feeling a little anxious about returning to the gym. What will it be like? What changes have you made? How will it feel to work out in the gym after such a long break?
You have to do some work to reestablish trust and get your members excited about returning to the gym. The best way to do this is to communicate and share with them everything you’re doing to prepare.
We recommend a three-email sequence starting seven days before reopening (after you’ve gotten the results of your survey).
- Email #1: Seven days before reopening start building excitement and telling your members how hard you’re working to get the gym ready. This is the email where you’ll announce the date of your opening and let them know more details are forthcoming.
- Email #2: About three to five days before reopening send an email explaining what you’re doing to get the gym ready. Here you can communicate all the cleaning you’ve done, maybe how you’ve reorganized the space or changed the entrances and exits, new class sizes, and designated workout areas.
- Email #3: One day before opening send an email with guidelines for your members. This email will let them know whether or not they can bring in equipment, if they need to wait outside until the gym is empty, cleaning procedures, and when they should stay home.
The purpose of these emails is not only to communicate your new procedures and guidelines but to reassure your members that you’ve thought about every detail, which will reestablish trust and build confidence.
Not sure what to write in these emails? Templates for these three emails are included in the UpLaunch platform.
Step Three: Keep Communicating
Once you reopen it's important to keep communicating with your members.
Many of your members will need your help to rebuild their workout habit, almost as if they were new members. This means frequent communication (a combination of emails and text messages) that’s educational, motivational, and encouraging. They might be working out at a different time because their kids aren't in school. Maybe they're frustrated they can't lift the same weights they did before the shutdown. It's possible their eating habits changed and they need help getting back on track.
At minimum you should check in 30, 60, and 90 days after reopening to make sure your members are set up for success. Along the way you can help them establish new goals and then build on those goals to help them keep progressing.
We suggest going well beyond the minimum, however. Now is the time to keep those lines of communication open, to check in frequently to make sure your members are comfortable and happy with the new normal. Just like when they were new members, the first 100 days are the most critical for building habits and making progress.
We recommend about 24 touch points -- a combination of emails and text messages -- in these first 100 days. Do this well, and you'll make these members brand advocates and members for life.
No time to write, deploy, and track all these emails, appointments, and text messages? We can help! Our brand-new reopening framework is built specifically for gyms reopening after COVID-19 closures. Get in touch — we’d love to tell you more!
Need help attracting and converting leads? We can help with that too!