2020 started strong for Hollie DiGiorgio and her Anytime Fitness gym in Tarpon Springs, Florida. She had recently moved her business into a new location, doubling its size and boosting its membership by over 40%.
The industry was on track to reach $106 billion, and the Anytime Fitness brand was expanding quickly. Then in March, everything changed almost overnight!
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Raksha Sukhia, SMB Growth Expert,
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"It's very hard to work so hard and then take 20 million steps back with something that's completely out of your control," DiGiorgio said.
But when you perform under pressure, fierce concentration is not an option. Batters don't have time to think, "I need to hit the ball." They remove their conscious mind from the picture and let their muscle memory take over.
Business Insider spoke with DiGiorgio about how she's navigating this extraordinarily challenging moment for her business and her customers alike.
Help your customers and your customers will help you
When public health officials ordered businesses to close in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, DiGiorgio and her team were suddenly busy — not with training clients, but processing account freezes and cancellations.
Revenues were plummeting, but DiGiorgio was committed to keeping her staff together and being flexible with members who's lives and careers were being upended in real-time.
"Our first thing was, 'what is fair for our members,'" DiGiorgio said. "So we sent an email blast out to all of our members offering to freeze their memberships for free."
Some members however responded with requests to pay in advance as a show of support for the gym, and DiGiorgio remained in frequent communication over email and social media to hear what the fitness community needed most.
"The biggest deal for us is we don't want our clients just to stop," DiGiorgio said. "Although we were shut down for business, we can't have them stop reaching their goals. They work too hard, and we can't set them back."
Repurpose equipment and talent to offer new services
With on-location training off the table, DiGiorgio wanted to ensure that those members who were sticking with her got some value for their dollars.
Like so many others, she turned to videoconferencing, where personal trainers and group instructors could continue working virtually with clients.
"We had our trainers training clients using either FaceTime or Zoom in from their homes," DiGiorgio said.
She even went a step further and turned her gym into an equipment library of sorts, so that members could borrow the necessary gear to stay in shape.
"We actually lent out dumbbells," DiGiorgio said. "We would find out what weight they needed, and they could swing by and pick them up."
More recently the gym began offering six-week "Comeback Challenges" that are helping motivate current members and reach new ones too.
Adapt your space to help customers feel comfortable and safe
Compared with her original location, the current gym has twice as much space and is far easier to keep clean, DiGiorgio says.
"We spaced out all of our cardio equipment six feet apart, and all of our other equipment is pretty spread out enough that people can keep social distancing," she said.
The new facilities also enable trainers and clients to work in their own space, which is helping to drive new membership growth as well.
"Cancellations have slowed down from what they were, and we're seeing where we can start growing back," DiGiorgio said. "So as long as we can continue that path, then we should be good."
"The last thing I would want to do is shut my doors," she added. "You just have to fight as much as you can, for as long as you can, and hopefully we'll come out ahead."