As small business owners you need to prepare everything, and after 12 years in business, trust me I have prepared. But did I prepare to have my business shut down for 8 weeks? To be honest, it is one thing I never expected.
Covid-19 was a nightmare for so many industries, especially those with physical businesses that had to shut, but it also showed us what we are made of and how strong our foundations are, and while it was not an enjoyable experience, I am very proud of what my team and I have accomplished, including keeping all my staff on full time wages.
Here were my top learnings
It’s amazing what you can achieve when things become urgent
Bill Gates famously said that “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten”
Well we certainly did a lot more than we expected this year, let me tell you.
We have been talking about launching online, live streamed classes for YEARS and in the space of 1 week, we had online, live streamed classes. Now we are investing in a proper high tech platform because it has allowed us to expand our client base substantially. Nothing like a global pandemic to get you to test other avenues.
Investing in customer service will pay you back tenfold
When we launched Flow Athletic we had two priorities in mind aside from world class training, and that way ensuring our staff are the best and right people and that we keep them happy, and prioritising the client experience.
Rather than always focusing on how to get new business, we have always valued enhancing the experience for existing members rather than ignoring them once we have them onboard and focusing on new ones, and while it pays us back all the time in word of mouth, it certainly helped us with Covid. In fact the amount of members asking to stay on their normal memberships despite our lockdowns was very humbling.
But it wasn’t just about them supporting us and us supporting ourselves. It was also about how can we support them. Flow Athletic is not just a gym. It is a community. It is where people come to interact and feel like they are part of something. Shutting gyms down wasn’t just an issue for their physical health, but also their mental health and sense of belonging.
We decided to live stream our classes so people can still see us and chat in real time. We also ran some events via Zoom so they could see each other via video chat.
To add to the experience, we offered clients who enjoy our spin classes a loan of the bikes for free, we loaned out fitness equipment, we hired more equipment for the clients who needed it and we tried to keep our schedule as busy as possible, not only so our staff could keep taking classes, but for the mentality of our members as well. Our studio is not just about fitness, it is a community and having that taken away really shook some people.
Broaden your horizons
While we are always looking for new ideas, I must admit we became extra creative during Covid.
- We started running virtual training sessions for corporates including Salesforce internationally
- We partnered with Optus with our online workouts for their sports channel
- We shared our thoughts and what we are doing in the news and on TV with the intention of helping other businesses in our space
- We also launched a partnership with Aeris Environmental which was a gym cleaning subscription service to help other gyms keep their spaces hygienic and take that stress off of them
- We also launched a pop up studio for our spin classes as members couldn’t all fit into the busy times
It’s easy to do the bare minimum, but if you are taking calculated risks, they may pay off
Take care of yourself
The first few weeks I thought I was going to burn out. I was not sleeping, I have a family at home, I have staff and members to look after. I was going 1000 miles and hour.
The thing is, if you are not at your best, you won’t be able to perform at your best for others.
Now I do my best to sleep although naturally I have been anxious, I meditate everyday with Soul Alive as it is helping a lot with anxiety, I do my own exercise and I make sure I take quality time to spend with my family and my team. There hasn’t been a lot of time for me to do these things, but I do my best and it has been helping.