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Roundtable Recap: Navigating Financial Uncertainty


On July 1, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 13th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, sponsored by Easalytics

Panelists included Kathy Rawlings, the owner of The Arena Club; Craig Cote, the president of Mountainside Fitness; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the founder of Brent Darden Consulting and chair of REX Roundtables.

Following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered around navigating financial uncertainty. 


  • A lot of assumptions are being made by consumers, the media and policymakers surrounding how risky club environments are right now. As a result, Blair McHaney is conducting research. Those clubs that have reopened can help by emailing the following information to blair@mxmetrics.com
    • Number of total check-ins since reopening
    • Number of COVID-19 cases that have been reported to you (staff and members) 
  • The government has been making changes to the rules surrounding the PPP loan and other government assistance. Be sure to stay in the loop on changes. 
  • As expected, many clubs are reporting huge losses in ancillary revenues. As a result, look for additional sources of cash. How can you serve your community’s needs during this time? For example, The Arena Club is currently catering to competitive swimmers — many of whom are clamoring to get into pools. 
  • Model, model, and model. The days of once-a-year forecasting and modeling are over. This is something that needs to be done on a consistent basis. 
  • Cote advised operators to pay close attention to billing during this time. Many software companies weren’t built to stop billing for months at a time, so it’s important to do your due diligence and double check their work. Be sure you’re crystal clear on how the annual fee should be withdrawn, for example. 
  • In addition, make sure you’re not billing customers who have frozen; and are billing those who haven’t. Right now, the quickest way to lose a customer completely is to bill them when they’re frozen. 
  • The panel expresses that billing managers are oftentimes the unsung heroes of the fitness industry. 
  • Cote shares a sample version of Cash Flow Projections.
  • Unfortunately, there are some clubs that won’t survive shutdowns/COVID-19. This presents an opportunity for those who survive to capture customers. Consider how you may utilize marketing to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Cote suggests using social media to support your revenue goals. Mountainside Fitness is currently stressing supplements and personal training. 
  • Online sign-ups present a huge opportunity. Prior to COVID-19, Mountainside Fitness saw around 100 online sales a month. Now they’re getting around 300 a week (across 18 locations). 
  • Remember that virtual fitness can be a gateway to in-person experiences. 
  • If schools don’t reopen in the fall, or students have to go part-time, this could present an opportunity for clubs to host day camps so parents have a place to send their kids. The Arena Club is looking into this. 
  • When reopening, consider scaling back your services and not bringing back your staff 100% to ensure you can execute and aren’t getting ahead of yourself. 
  • McHaney recommends this article from Harvard Business Review on how customers have changed in response to the pandemic.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 14th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Leading in the Moment” on July 8 at 2 p.m. EST, in partnership with REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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