Debbie Hancock

Debbie Hancock

Owner of Southbourne Accountancy & Business Services

The top 7 mistakes fitness businesses are making

In the current climate we may be feeling scared, worried, and unsure if we should be marketing our businesses. The truth is that to keep the economy moving we do need businesses to keep selling and for people to keep buying. Even if we are feeling scared we must take action now to help our businesses survive this current crisis.

Today I will discuss the top 7 mistakes that businesses in the fitness industry are making.

The #1 mistake fitness businesses are making: Not taking ACTION.

Fitness facilities and non-essential shops have now been closed for weeks, in those weeks business owners will have ridden a roller-coaster of emotions and uncertainty.

I have seen some impressive ACTIONS taken by PT’s, gyms, equipment providers, such as:

✔Gym software providers integrating Zoom into their software at speed, so gym owners can continue to provide a professional service.

✔Gympass launching a platform so partners can easily offer on-demand services.

✔Bootcamp providers signing up clients across the country and offering classes with a personal touch, restricting classes to 7 clients.

✔Podcasts being launched to share knowledge across the industry.

✔Embracing technology and setting up zoom training, then having so many subscribers that they had to increase capacity from 100 guests to 500.

✔Calling their clients to check on their physical and mental health, some sending letters/cards.

What ACTION have you taken to keep your business viable? Will your customers remember how you made them feel during this time?

The #2 mistake fitness businesses are making: NOT charging for or seeing the VALUE in their offering.

The world has turned upside down and many businesses are branching out into the unknown with online fitness content/offerings. There is so much free content with many (incorrectly) believing that they cannot charge for it.

A gym in the UK has successfully launched an online platform and gained clients in this time, with very positive feedback. They have maintained charging membership fees and taken on more staff. Some of their members have asked them to create a hybrid membership when the gyms re-open. This means they can attend the gym when they want and also take advantage of completing exercises at home. The members are really valuing what is being offered and seeing the advantages.

People like accountability, so by paying for the content they are more likely to stick to it, see results and then have a positive feeling about your offering.

People value what they pay for. A free offering may draw them in but restrict how many free classes you provide as you will dilute your value. One great idea I have seen is to offer a free class but with a voluntary donation to a local charity. This helps charities in a time when donations have significantly reduced and gives people an opportunity to pay what they can afford to whilst trialing your class.

You are helping people to keep fit, to reduce boredom and helping with mental and physical health. What you provide is valuable – so value it.

Mistake #3 that fitness businesses are making: Striving for perfection

What is better, to provide something that is perfect or to create something that helps people in the here and now, gives your business oompf and moves you towards perfection?

In recent weeks everyone has been getting to grips with working from home, video calling friends, family and work colleagues, Zoom has become a household name!

We are accepting that sometimes the technology will fail or the sound may not be 100%. Now is the time to take action and release that good but not perfect digital solution. Now is the time to fail fast, then learn and adapt.

If you wait for perfection, you risk not taking any action and risk being left behind.

Take risks and you will be rewarded. You can improve the lighting, improve the sound quality and the background over time. What’s important now is that you are connecting with your customers, showing them you are there for them and making people smile.

Mistake #4 that fitness businesses are making: seeing digital as a fad or just for “covid-19”

Digital content, recorded workout’s and live video streams can be a real asset for the future of your fitness business. 

There will always be people that prefer going to a gym or fitness studio, like the escapism, enjoy the equipment and the social side of a physical location. 

However, there are people that would NEVER enter a gym, they don’t feel comfortable or just don’t “have the time”. They prefer rolling out of bed and into their digital PT session or prefer to hide behind a camera where only the trainer can see them.

Now is the time to build that asset, record content, look into suitable streaming platforms and show people the value of digital.

No longer will you be restricted by your physical location, you can access a whole new group of people or even entice back people that moved away and left.

Could you create a new digital membership, plus a hybrid membership where your current clients will be able to access online content and the gym once they open?

See the opportunities that COVID-19 has forced upon the industry and work-out how you can wrap that into your previous offering. Digital fitness was always coming, it has just arrived earlier than expected!

Are you ready to build your digital asset?

Mistake #5 that fitness businesses are making: not communicating with their customers

Have you contacted your members/customers since lock-down?

Maybe you sent an email that remains unopened. Unsurprising email open rates have dropped, with every company emailing “updates” people are choosing not to read them all.

Maybe you have called them, checked-in to see if they are OK and understand your digital offering.

Why not try something different. Could you send a postcard – something to grab their attention. We have all been excessively scrolling through Social Media during this time that its likely your update will be missed.

Maybe you could start a fitness challenge, something to keep everyone motivated and on track with their fitness goals. It could even be family orientated as everyone is juggling work, life and kids at the moment!

It is so important to keep in contact with members/customers right now, to remain front of mind. People will remember how you made them feel during this time. So make them feel motivated, positive and make them smile.

Gymshark started their own #hashtag to encourage people to share their sweaty selfies, in return they made a donation. Consider starting a #hashtag for your members where they can share their progress. You could even consider a “pub-quiz” as a way to encourage the social side of the gym.

#6 mistake that fitness businesses are making: Missing a trick by not using this time to look at process, pricing and feedback

Everything is up in the air, businesses are closed and unable to trade but now is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and work out how to move forwards. You have to do it even if you’re scared and the world makes no sense to you right now!

You will not want to take the pause button off and continue as before. We could consider this a “dry docking of a ship”, a time when you can really get under your business and see whats going on.

There are always things in businesses that need addressing, they often get put on the “too difficult list” or the “I don’t have time list”. We are all juggling life, childcare, etc but now is still a great time to step-back and access your business.

Whilst your head is not cluttered with the day-to-day running of your business, you may find yourself coming up with more ideas, being more creative.

What would you change if money or time was not an issue:

🤷‍♀️Would you look at your CRM system?

🤷‍Do you need to assess your prices – are they too low, do you have too many options?

🤷‍What frustrations do your customers have? Have you reviewed customer feedback forms? Could you approach your customers now and ask open questions to gather more information?

🤷‍♀️Could you digitally link together your different systems, i.e. booking, payment, accounting and membership management? Therefore, saving you time in the future and giving you important information for the future.

Now is the time to be proactive. Take some time to write down what you would change if you had no obstacles. Let your imagination run wild.

I hope this has given you some food for thought, use it to create a plan for the next 3 months. What 3 things will you achieve over the next 3 months?

Mistake #7 that fitness businesses are making: Not Marketing

Now is NOT the time to STOP marketing, now is the time to keep communicating with your audience.

Remind them that you are there, what support/services you are offering and how they can buy from you. DO NOT let your customers forget you.

With so many people at home right now and spending so much time online, you have their full attention like never before.

You need to be clever with the way you market yourself. What you need to think about now is how you position yourself.

There is a simple, yet crucial, way in which you can do this. And it’s all about positioning yourself appropriately AND pivoting your message.

You are absolutely needed at this point in time! Do you know why?

Because people are looking for guidance, normality and social interactions. Fill that space with your digital offering. Review your marketing messages to ensure that they are relevant and helpful.

Should you cut your marketing spend?

Right now everyone is reviewing their expenses and marketing may seem an obvious cost to cut. However, you need to consider the Return on Investment on all your costs before you simple cut the “easy” costs. How will cutting your marketing spend now impact your future business?

Remember, people are scared. They are worried. They don’t know what the future holds. And you can help them, keep them fit (physically and mentally), keep them engaged and make them smile.

As time passes, we are getting used to this “current normal” and life will continue the same but different. So how will you adapt to the change?

P.S. If you are ready to make your business a success and want support in how to utilise your finances to future proof your business, then reach out. We specialise in helping businesses utilise their financial information to create solid foundations and make smart decisions. 

1. Book a call with me: https://southbourneaccountancy.co.uk/contact-us/

2. Download our free guide on “7 mistakes to fix, to stop your fitness business running out of cash” https://southbourneaccountancy.co.uk/fitness-ebook/

3. Download our free Coronavirus support guide: https://southbourneaccountancy.co.uk/coronavirussupport/

4. Connect with me on social media:



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