With the American fitness market estimated to generate a whopping $33.25 billion in 2021, there’s massive scope for growth but are business owners capitalizing on opportunities? With only 26% of people having returned to their pre-covid facilities, it has never been more important for sales and retention teams to cover all their bases. It goes without saying that a successful onboarding strategy is crucial for retention and businesses should continue to respond to the increasing popularity of at-home fitness but there’s a significant oversight that is consistently left unaddressed and represents a considerable gap in the fitness market…where do children feature within the fitness industry?
This blog gives you some food for thought in terms of making your venue safe for children and providing onsite childcare options for members. Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering going down this avenue.
Determine if there’s a need for childcare at your facility
There’s a definite correlation between becoming a parent and doing less exercise. Yes, parents may be running after kids all day but spend less time focusing on their own physical fitness. The barriers to physical activity include scheduling constraints, work, family responsibilities, lack of support and guilt. As a parent, I struggle with all of the above but I find myself desperate to exercise. Although I have the means to, I don’t want to exercise at home. I want to go to my local CrossFit box and do class with my peers but how? When? Hear my voice business owners! I speak for the masses! Do your market research, talk to members and ascertain whether there is a need for childcare. Are there members who have become parents and are struggling to attend workouts? Are there parents who have asked for this service before? Some boutique studios are beginning to offer postpartum classes for new mothers but fail to provide the right environment for them to bring their babies along. Giving parents the opportunity to attend regular classes WITH their kids, maybe the ultimate retention tool.
Can having childcare facilities increase your revenue?
With gyms and studios reopening their doors, what once gave you your competitive edge may no longer be a pull factor for potential customers. In these times, businesses must provide more flexible options and innovative ways to keep members engaged. For some parents, finding a gym with childcare is like Christmas coming early! By offering this service, you are removing barriers to exercise, giving you a competitive edge over your competitors who haven’t tapped into this market. Those who have not considered joining your fitness community before may now see the added benefits of doing so. This initiative will broaden your demographic, expand your membership base and increase your revenue.
It’s up to your discretion how to charge for this service. You may consider incorporating it into your existing packages or developing new pricing structures. Babysitters cost a small fortune so parents are likely to take advantage of a membership that includes an attractive childcare package.
Does your space allow for childcare facilities?
If you have the space, creating a childcare area in your facility needs careful planning. You’ll need to apply for, and secure permission from local authorities who will send an inspector to check you have the correct fire and safety equipment. You will also need to acquire the correct liability insurance. Not only is this expected by law but will give parents that extra peace of mind and confidence to attend. Once you’ve got the green light, the space needs to be child-proofed. That means ensuring electrical outputs are covered, sharp corners have guards or cushioned stickers placed over them and appropriate toys and furniture are purchased. You may consider installing cameras in the space for added security. Doing this also allows parents to check in on their children at their convenience.
If you are limited in space, creating a childcare area may be challenging but do not fear, where there’s a will, there’s a way! With the correct insurance and qualifications, you can schedule classes for children at your gym or studio. After-school sessions or vacation clubs are an excellent way of incorporating children into your fitness community.
How will you staff this venture?
We would advise against unsupervised childcare. If you’re going to provide this facility then do it properly. Either recruit qualified childminders or upskill your team by providing opportunities for courses and qualifications. This will include first aid, CPR training and any other qualifications required by law and according to your insurance policy. Yes, this will cost money but you need to assess the long-term benefits of offering this service and the return on investment. If you are offering scheduled childcare during the day, either during the morning or afternoon, you may not have to employ someone full-time and may consider a part-time contract or flexible daily rate. This can bring down your costs without compromising on your vision.
In summary, offering childcare as an additional service can boost the value of your business considerably. For parents, organizing child care can be a logistical nightmare so taking care of this, not only makes your members happy but makes your business stand out from the rest.