5 Immediate Action Steps for Surviving and Thriving During COVID-19

We are undeniably in an unprecedented, uncertain time. All small gym owners are sharing the same fears and questions:

1. How can I ask clients to pay their monthly fees if I don’t have a physical gym? 

2. How long will they keep paying on goodwill? 

3. How do I pay (keep paying) my coaches?

We’re all in this together, but here’s what our gyms have come up with so far:

Step 1. Consider: Is it worth it?

This is a real question you need to ask yourself. It’s not going to be easy. Are you willing to stick it out? Should you stop accepting payments, or continue operations virtually without a physical space?

The relationships you have already built—or haven’t built—will probably be the deciding factor. Do your coaches have strong relationships with the clients?  What have your clients been paying for up until now?

a). Hard workouts, where they can push themselves physically against others, in a group class?


b). A professional coaching service and a relationship with a coach to help them manage their health and fitness for life?

If they think they have only been paying for a location and programming, chances are they’re not going to stick around long. But if they hired you as their coach for life—similar to having a doctor or an accountant for life—then you have a real chance at continuing to service them through this pandemic and beyond.

While common sense, should you choose to continue, take a close look at what’s going out and eliminate all the variable costs you can immediately.

Step 2: Contact every single member

Call every member and have a one-on-one conversation with each of them. Explain to them your current value proposition. Ask them for their buy-in to your plan moving forward, and ask them about their concerns and what they need from you in order to stick around. Be real with them. Tell them you are going to be constantly improving the service and ask them for a few weeks to iron it all out. Start delivering immediately.

Step 3: Create

Decide the best way to deliver your new product/service, but start delivering it now, even if it’s not perfect yet. It will take the next couple weeks to figure it out, so test things via trial and error and eventually develop best practices. Hone it and make it awesome.

Then go back and connect with all your clients and offer your new value proposition.

Do not be insecure with your ability to deliver this new online coaching service.  It might take us a few weeks to hone and refine to make it excellent, but know that there are plenty of people out there that are paying $300 a month for online coaching services.

Now is not the time to live in a vacuum, so speak with as many small gym owners as you can. Build yourself a support network and work together to figure this out. Share knowledge about what’s working and what’s not.

Step 4: Compensate coaches

Dollars per hour class pay isn’t going to work. Now more than ever. You will live or die on your client retention in these upcoming weeks, so your ability to retain clients and charge them for your new high value service is paramount.

Coaches should be paid based on a success metric that directly ties into their success and the client’s success. This means paying coaches on a percentage of revenue basis for their clients’ monthly dues for the lifetime of each client.   

In ordinary times, we teach a comprehensive, progressive coach compensation model combined with a three-year accredited coach development process to gradually increase net revenue over time. With COVID-19 on us, you don’t have that kind of time. 

So, divide your clients up amongst your coaches (sort based on prior relationships) and give them a percent of the gross revenue (depending on what you can afford to still pay your bills etc). For now, let’s say the coach compensation should be somewhere between 30-50% of gross revenue, per client.  

Assign tasks to your coaches and pay based on definite outcomes. This will help make your coaches become excellent at delivering your new online service, as they will only get paid if the clients are thriving and continue to pay. If the product or service is bad and the clients leave, the coach does not get paid for the client anymore. Human beings are good under pressure, and we have seen time and time again that these types of incentives work for all three parties—the client, the coach and the business.

On the client end, this will give each client an assigned personal coach in their corner to hold them accountable during this time and help them with their individual needs.  Clients want and need this service.

Step 5: Continue to learn, implement, evolve.

If you are on top of this, then, your business will be solid. Your clients will be solid. Your coaches will be solid. Now you can go about reducing/eliminating fixed costs.

Continue to hone. Continue to get better. Continue to share. Continue to learn.

Apply for government assistant or any other help/assistance you can get, should this time continue beyond current time estimates. You will need to begin gathering financial documents—W-2/W-3, P&L, Tax returns etc…—as you will likely need to show/explain your “loss.”

If you want to talk with an experienced gym owner that has done these 5 steps, book a free call. We are here to help share our resources, knowledge and experience from over a decade of testing and honing best practices.


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