Creative Ideas For Operating Your Sports Facility During COVID-19
We know that operating a sports facility during these uncertain COVID-19 times is challenging. You are concerned for the safety and well-being of your clients, but it can be difficult to navigate the continuously updated list of community rules and guidelines. Your facility may be open one day and on the next, deemed “non-essential” by the public health department.
The athletes and families that you serve may also find it difficult to decide whether they should continue attending classes and training sessions. Canceled appointments and clinics can lead to confused members — and leave them with a negative impression of your sports facility.
In recent days, we have heard from several facilities about how they are continuing to engage with their customers and create a positive experience in an unsettling time. Here are a few creative solutions.
Pay close attention to the health advisories in your community and be sure you are following the latest guidance. Some communities have closed “gyms” while others have not. Be sure you know and understand the implications of your community’s rules.
Limit Your Training to Small Groups or 1:1 Lessons
Your facility should already have increased hygiene and cleaning procedures in place for your clients. The Center for Disease Control offers a list of cleaning recommendations to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Social distancing has become a common phrase over the past several weeks. One way to offer this to your clients is by reducing the number of athletes and coaches in your facility at any given time.
“While this option limits the amount of traffic your facility receives, many of your clients will be glad to have the personalized attention,” said eSoft Planner’s President and Sports Facility Expert, Mike Meszaros. “Additionally, players that receive a great one-on-on session are likely to tell others — leading to residual business for you.”
The key here is that your athletes and trainers need to be responsible. They must cancel the session if either one is sick. Be on the side of caution to avoid spreading the virus.
Online Live Group Clinics
If your community has shut down gyms altogether, or you’re simply not comfortable with any in-person contact, we understand.
The recent necessities of self-quarantine and social distancing have taught us that we can do a lot using technology. As a business, you can and should take advantage of these tools by engaging with your clients online.
One of the first rules that you learn in marketing is to provide valuable content that will keep your customers engaged. This can be accomplished by demonstrating useful athletic skills on live video.
Create a closed Facebook Group and invite all of your current, paid members. If you don’t have a paid membership platform, you can build one by creating an online package for them and invite them to the group as they join.
Within the group, you can schedule live group clinics that develop everything from core skills to advanced performance.
Facebook Live is a great tool for growing your business, but one of the best things about it is that you can archive your instructional videos. This will add value for future members of your sports facility beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
“Early research is showing an increased interest in health and fitness tools that people can use at home,” Mike says. “That’s true for serious athletes who want to continue to hone their skills while they’re off, and for youth athletes whose parents are looking for ways to help their children burn off energy at home.”
Don’t worry too much about the quality of the video. A steady hand (or a tripod) plus your phone camera is enough. Show the trainer using your facility and the equipment in your facility.
You can also sell scheduled live sessions (small group or 1:1) where your trainer and your athletes connect via video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or FaceTime.
Be sure to do a dry run. So, you can get the hang of the technology before your customer is online.
Instructional Videos from Top Instructors
If you’re not prepared or comfortable with going live. Give pre-recorded sessions a try. You can choose to deliver them via email, periodically, to your paying members. Post them to YouTube as unlisted videos, and then provide links to the unlisted content in emails to your members.
These non-live sessions afford you the opportunity to film multiple sessions at once, and then post them periodically online.
Instructional videos will raise awareness of your sports facility’s service offerings and increase interest in your programs for when restrictions are lifted, and your facility reopens. They can also be reused even after the crisis has passed. Good instruction is always in demand.
Use the Time to Build Awareness
Even if you don’t have a methodology for charging a fee to access your video content. There are still ways that you can engage with your customers and potential customers.
“All sports facilities could use more exposure for their coaches and trainers. Social media is a great way to highlight them,” Mike says. “Seeing a dedicated athlete in action can be inspiring. Show them in your building completing their personal drills, practices and workouts.”
Why eSoft Planner
Uncertain times can make the need for good planning apparent. eSoft Planner allows you to schedule lessons, clinics and training sessions, and provides you with a solid foundation for your sports facility operations.
Powerful, configurable modules, coupled with a support team that is familiar with your particular sport, will allow you the flexibility to develop creative marketing plans that deliver a steady revenue to your business.
Ask our team of experts how you can build an online membership program within eSoft to continue to capture revenue even when your doors are closed. We can also help you use eSoft’s scheduling tools for live paid video sessions.