Operating during a health crisis is challenging for businesses in any vertical or niche, but it poses an especially difficult challenge for the fitness industry. These businesses need to address a wide range of health safety concerns and build their members’ trust — while maintaining memberships and supplemental revenue streams so that their businesses remain viable.
Jon Levin, Director of Product Management, Star Micronics, says one of the primary challenges related to a health club reopening is social distancing and keeping machines and the facility clean. Their operations post-coronavirus must include ways to keep track of how many people are scheduled or walk into the facility in real-time and to schedule cleaning based on the number of members using the equipment.
“Cleanliness is even more of an issue for health clubs than other businesses due to the high-contact nature of physical activity with various workout equipment, weights, and more,” Levin says. “No technology can replace the need physically to clean that gym equipment, but technology can help reduce the need for human interaction.”
Solutions that your health club or fitness center clients may find valuable as they reopen include:
- Fitness club management or employee management software with features that can help them organize cleaning schedules, require digital sign-off by employees and a step-by-step checklist to ensure all aspects of cleaning are addressed. Levin says clubs may find value in allowing each team member to access applications on a tablet to eliminate having to share a computer.
- Kiosks can enable a reduction in the interaction between facility staff and customers. Levin says, “This will be critical in all aspects including check-in, new member sign-up and orientation, and selling snacks, smoothies, and retail goods. I imagine that easy-to-clean self-service kiosks will become a larger part of the fitness club experience in all of these areas.”
- Hardware manufactured with antimicrobial materials can reduce the chances that people in the fitness center will contract the virus. In some cases, antimicrobial films may be applied to hardware to enhance it with this property.
- Digitized processes for all aspects of the customer’s relationship with the facility. “For example,” Levin says. “the customers should never have to touch a pen to sign in, sign a waiver, or sign up for a particular class or piece of equipment.”
- Contactless payments so customers can pay by tapping or waving a card, smartphone or smartwatch. With contactless payments, money or cards never have to change hands, which could help reduce the spread of the virus.
- Printed communications can replace some of the information that health club staff would have shared with members in person and provide a way to continue to communicate with customers regularly. Printing schedule changes, information on virtual classes or new offerings, and upcoming events can help keep members informed, without violating social distancing rules. Levin says printed receipts for purchases at the club are also great communication tools, especially in self-service situations.
Be More Than a Solutions Provider
As your clients reopen their businesses, you will begin to collect a wealth of information from your network on the best ways to address health club reopening, what’s working — and what’s not. You can share information, for example, on how to establish schedules or require appointments to limit the number of people in the facility, whether virtual classes keep members engaged, or how clubs are letting members know when equipment hasn’t been disinfected and isn’t ready for use.
Your conversations with your clients and prospects can also shed light on how to conduct temperature checks, the best personal protective equipment for staff, and new revenue streams that are keeping businesses in the black, such as selling merchandise or remote services from personal trainers.
You can also educate yourself and be the go-to source for the latest regulations in your clients’ city or county to help them ensure that they comply.
Your expertise in providing solutions to the fitness industry has enabled you to gain a deep understanding of your clients’ businesses pre-coronavirus. This knowledge puts you in a unique position to adapt their operations and IT solutions to meet new challenges now. Don’t miss this opportunity to build deeper relationships with your clients as a trusted business advisor as well as an IT solutions provider.
For more information on solutions that can help your clients with health club reopening as well as getting clients in other verticals or niches back to business, contact the Star Micronics team at BlueStar.