How to Guide Your Fitness Franchisees Through the Uncertainty of Openings and Closings
Due to the current COVID-19 landscape, fitness brands may be facing the uncertainty of reopening and temporarily closing multiple times to keep their community safe. Fitness franchises all over the world are facing serious limits on how many (if any) clients and staff can be in a business at any given time. Depending on which city, state, or country you operate in, your franchisees may be amid a complete shutdown or preparing to open their doors once again.
With protocols to ensure public safety being updated constantly, it’s of the utmost importance to stay in constant communication with your franchisees to make sure they're following suit.
Things you can do to support your franchisees
Whether you have a few franchise locations or a few hundred, here are some ways you can help your franchisees organize both closures and reopenings at their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Communicate often. As a franchise organization, you have the ability to leverage best practices and idea sharing across all locations. Set up a virtual meeting with each of your franchisees to go over best practices given their current state. If you have certain franchise locations that are struggling, make sure you check in with them often and even offer workshops that go over tips and tricks to help them be successful during this time. Keep in mind, throughout multiple openings and closings, there is a membership suspension tool within the Mindbody platform your franchisees can use to temporarily suspend memberships helping them open and close more efficiently.
Facilitate idea sharing. This trying time has forced your franchisees to completely shift the way they operate their business. It could be possible that some of your franchisees are struggling to come up with ways to help their business thrive right now while others have developed a creative initiative to stay afloat. By hosting a weekly virtual meeting for your franchisees, you can encourage them to share tips for success during this time or give them a platform to address any concerns they may have.
Develop unique offerings for their clients. Nothing is business as usual right now—and your franchisees’ clients understand that. The current fitness landscape has posed multiple challenges for franchise owners everywhere. However, just because locations are forced to limit their in-studio capacity or close temporarily, it doesn’t mean they can’t generate revenue. Encourage them to take advantage of offering virtual classes or, if they can, host fitness classes outside. You could also consider creating franchise-wide offers that help keep clients engaged.
Encourage financial focus. It’s more important than ever for your franchisees to pay attention to their cash flow. This can be a scary time for franchisees, but there are ways to help them generate cash flow even in times of uncertainty. Something as simple as optimizing Dynamic Pricing for certain classes that have a low attendance rate could help them generate revenue right now.
For franchise locations that are currently closed
The coronavirus pandemic has posed quite a challenge for fitness businesses. It's forced your franchisees to shut their doors and have hard conversations with staff and clientele. Although it’s unclear when fitness businesses in various regions can open again, your franchisees need to continue strategizing for reopening amidst this new normal.
Here are some tips to help them stay prepared:
Encourage them to communicate with staff often. Even if it doesn’t seem like a location will be allowed to open any time soon, this doesn’t mean franchisees should ghost their employees. The pandemic has created stress for both the business owner and their staff. Encourage your owners to keep employee morale high by holding weekly meetings to address the current state of business operations and to empower their staff to voice any concerns they may have.
Make sure operations are in order. During a temporary closure, it’s important to make sure that your franchisees are reviewing their cash flow. With so much uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, it’s possible some of your franchisees are in trouble and in need of additional support. Make sure your lines of communication are open and that you make yourself available to meet with them to go over best operational practices and other concerns.
When it comes to helping them manage day-to-day operations, there are certain functionalities in Mindbody make it easy for franchisees to manage their business through times of uncertainty. For example, fitness businesses that are unable to hold classes right now—even outside—can disable class schedules in a snap with the Schedule Closed Business Days screen.
Streamline virtual. For currently-closed fitness businesses, virtual classes are often the best option to keep clients engaged—and safe. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of additional work for your franchisees and staff. With Mindbody’s video platform, it’s easy to manage both live streaming and on-demand options. Integrated directly into your software (payments too!) it’s streamlined for both employees and clients alike.
Franchisees should be communicating frequently with clients, too. More and more people are embracing the idea of working out from home with their favorite studios. In fact, in the past few months, over 80% of consumers have adopted live streaming fitness classes, compared to a mere 7% in 2019. Encourage your franchisee owners to keep up the momentum by promoting their virtual offerings through regular emails and push notifications to clients.
Maintain a sense of community. Franchise communities may have jumped on board initially with attending live workouts, interacting on social media, or spreading the word about your virtual fitness offerings to other members or friends—but as time goes on, they could be losing steam. Keep up that community vibe encouraging your franchisees to set up virtual get-togethers throughout the week or by hosting a 15-minute post-workout happy hour after their evening classes.
For franchise locations that are reopening
Even though a grand reopening can be exciting, the way your franchise owners operate during this time can come with some challenges.
Here are some tips to help them reboot their fitness franchise amid a pandemic:
Connect with employees about scheduling. Encourage your franchisees to schedule 1:1 time with staff a week before the reopening to go over scheduling and updated operations. It's possible some will have reservations coming back, so now is the time to make a plan. Owners can work with employees to create a limited schedule or give them the option to stick to virtual classes from home until they’re comfortable coming back.
Re-vamp the class schedule with guidelines in mind. Make sure your franchisees are following local guidelines. Different locations have different guidelines regarding capacity, the amount of time allowed between classes, masks, and so on. It’s important each location follows these rules to ensure community safety and compliance. Once the schedule is finalized, their clientele can easily see which classes are available after your franchisees remove any Closed Business Days.
Let their clients know about updated offerings. Franchisees should be utilizing their website, social media, automated emails, and push notifications to let their clients know when and how they’ll welcome them back into their business. These communications should include information about updated schedules, memberships/pricing, and safety guidelines.
Remind them that virtual fitness is here to stay. Some clients won’t be ready to come back to your franchisees’ locations, and virtual classes offer a way to keep them engaged. Virtual fitness also helps keep customers engaged if your owners have to cap how many classes members can attend. Keeping virtual options ensures consistency, should a location need to close again.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to managing fitness franchises through multiple openings and closings during the coronavirus pandemic. For more tips to relay during this challenging time, share this template with your franchisees to give them a customized roadmap to navigate this landscape.