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Out on the Other Side

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As I write this mid-April, none of us know the end game to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide shutdowns. Although some gyms have received the all-clear to reopen, others are still in limbo. 

And the uncertainty is killing us all without the ability to plan and budget for a date we can finally open the doors of our clubs and welcome our loyal members back, and give much-needed stability to our team. 

When you finally get to the point of opening those doors, you need to be very proud because you survived an operational tsunami. As a result of this sink-or-swim experience, you would have been in serious damage control trying to mitigate financial hemorrhaging. 

Everything has a pipeline effect and everything you would have done throughout this dreadful experience will broadly dictate your operational and financial health as a business in the future.

When mandated closure hit you and mild panic set in, was your initial concern for your team and your gym members? If this was the case, then you were probably thinking along the right lines. 

With open, clear and totally transparent communication to them about the challenges you are going through and what you are doing to fight in their corner, you are empowering your staff and customers to fight in your corner when you open. This will dictate your operational culture going forward. Your biggest assets — your team members and gym members — will know you will take care of them. 

The same can be applied to suppliers, who we all rely on and will rely on even more, especially janitorial suppliers — which we will now allocate more budget toward. Your janitorial suppliers and housekeeping teams will no longer be disengaged, but a focal point of your operations.  

From a number’s point of view, operators with strong social media and digital presences will have mitigated an attrition disaster, while those who do not will have to raise their game fast.  

As the American philosopher John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”

Learn from this experience and prepare for the new normal. 

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Anton K Conlon

Anton K Conlon is the CEO of Gold’s Gym El Paso.

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