While the Coronavirus is unlikely to physically affect a high percentage of our members there is still huge economic fallout being observed that can and likely will affect your independently owned brick n’ mortar gym.

In this article I will share the impact you should be aware of and how to be prepare and hedge your business.

Certain markets that control our economy and many large scale corporations are already being negatively impacted by COVID-19. This will undoubtedly trickle down to local markets as a percentage of our members typically make their living working within these markets.

The virus has already been directly responsible for some heart-stopping plunges in the stock market and an emergency rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

The disease caused disruption in the global supply chain as most large manufacturers in China have decide to shut down operations for multiple weeks into the future. This means the transportation industry will be directly affected as everything from planes, trains, and truck drivers will have less payload to carry and less work. This means less revenue.

The International Air Transport Association states that global airlines stand to lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread. It has already lost $30 million in just two weeks.

Walt Disney Co. has temporarily shuttered two parks in Japan — Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea — along with Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.

Marriott International, one of the world’s largest hotel companies, said in its Feb. 27 earnings report that it had closed 90 hotels in China because of the outbreak.

Downstream this affects everything from executives of large company’s who help to support this supply chain to airport lunch stand employees to baggage handlers.

Now, that is just the indirect impact.

Directly there is significant impact as people are weighing the risk of coming to the gym for the obvious reasons, being in close proximity to others while there is body fluids being transferred on every surface. It’s a legitimate fear, especially if you live with infants or elderly, it simply may not be worth the risk.

In fact, the NY Times just published this article making more people aware of the risks.

While the article puts some fears to rest, it still alarms people and most people won’t read into it enough to realize that it may not be as risky as they think. Any headlines that put gym attendance in negative light will have impact. Unfortunately, the press LOVES prolific, negative headlines as they get 10x more clicks that positive, reassuring headlines.

So what can you do to hedge against these concerns and avoid being impacted negatively?

#1. Be proactive. Be direct and let you members know that if they are sick to stay home publicly. Make sure your members can see that you take this very seriously.

It will make them feel safer. We made posts in our Facebook group and email and text telling members how important it is to think about the families of other members and that no matter how “die-hard” they are, they are not welcome at the box if they are sick. These messages have been received with very favorable and supportive response.

You would think this messaging would deter members or scare them even if they’re healthy but our attendance has been great and some members have even told me how they appreciate that we are working to keep Spark a clean and safe place.

#2. Be seen taking proactive measures. At Spark CrossFit, we bought loads of disinfectant and we demand all members spray and wipe their bars and anything they touch. In between classes our coaches have been tasked with spraying down all the equipment a second time.

While this may be overkill, the intent is to be seen taking steps and re-assuring members that their health is of top concern to our team.

#3. Start thinking about how you can provide services remotely and make your membership base aware that you are working on a solution in advance should the virus become a bigger concern.

Offering access to programming remotely with workouts they can do from home, and/or streaming classes using Facebook live in your private member group where you recognize and interact with who has joined online would be an awesome no-charge offering to keep them engaged.

Peloton’s stock soared for three straight days last week while the market overall got clobbered by the coronavirus crisis. This is a sign that people may be opting for staying home and using the tools they have. 24 hour style “globo” gyms have already reported a decline in their memberships and attendance over the last month.

Just the fact that you are innovating ways for them to not miss a beat will raise your stock with members even if it ends up not being a needed service. Who knows, maybe members will want this as an up-sell service anyways? (something to think about)

We at Big Little Gyms hope this article helps you hedge against any possible downturn cause by the coronavirus.

One of my favorite quotes by Napoleon Hill goes “Every adversity, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” but only if you’re proactive in your efforts and have your members best interest in mind.

Let us know your thoughts by commenting, and if you found this article helpful or insightful please share on your favorite social media platform. Stay healthy!

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