Saturday, March 6, 2010

Health & Wellness Business - Economic Climate Is What You Make of It

The current economic climate in the U.S. seems to dominate the news recently. As a result, all the doomsday prognosticators are dutifully spreading their poison, and the bad news spreads like wildfire. The truth is, in times of economic uncertainty, wellness/fitness operators who don’t over or under react will thrive.

The importance of strong leadership

It all boils down to planning and leadership. Employees always follow the tenor set by their leaders. If leaders have planned poorly, it will show. If leaders have the "deer in the headlights look," it will also show. And staff members will respond accordingly. Likewise, if a wellness/fitness operator scales back operations and creates a vision of a business waiting for the grim reaper, the result will be predictably negative. Staff and members alike will feel the sense of impending doom. Great leaders are created during unpredictable times like these. Just as certainly, poor leaders are revealed under the same market conditions.

There was a famous football coach at my alma mater (University of Tennessee) many years ago named General Robert Neyland. One of Neylands’ contemporaries paid him a great compliment with the following quote (southernized version): "He can take hisn’s and beat yourn’s, or he can take yourn’s and beat hisn’s!" Translation: It didn’t matter who the General was coaching because he would inevitably make them winners. He was the epitome of great leadership. He didn’t care about economic conditions, recruiting climate or anything else. He knew how to win, and win he did. That’s leadership!

Capitalizing on gloomy news

With these predictions of gloom and doom, the population at large will tend to gravitate toward uplifting endeavors to help them cope with the economic climate. As the press "creates the news" of gloom and doom, they also continue to report on the importance of health and wellbeing. Additionally, on just about every cable network there are fitness programs, nutrition programs, diet programs, infomercials for home exercise equipment and all types of messages urging the general public to take care of themselves through healthy lifestyle modification.

Who is best suited to answer the needs of a stressed-out population during times like these? Wellness/fitness operators, of course. Home exercise equipment always seems like such a great idea to people who are not educated about the failure rate for most home exercise endeavors. However, most home exercise equipment either ends up as a convenient clothes horse or an inconvenient dust collector. The wellness/health industry must reach out to satisfy these needs.
Targeting the right markets Now is the time to get creative and bold. This does not mean increasing your spending significantly, it means rethinking what you are currently doing. The three groups who need the most help during these trying times are the corporate, “not yet fit” and aging markets.

If your facility is not currently pursuing these three markets vigorously, you are missing a truly golden opportunity. These markets are perfect candidates for membership and special programs during the current economic upheaval.

The corporate market. The corporate market needs to maximize employee performance now more than ever before. Wellness/fitness operators, if properly prepared, can reap a bountiful harvest. However, a half-baked, outdated approach will not work. The corporate marketplace is brimming with hope at the prospect of a wellness program that will truly offer employees an opportunity to effect lifestyle change. Remember, corporations’ primary concern is their sedentary employees. These are the employees who don’t go to wellness/health clubs, so be creative in creating programs for them.

The “not yet fit” market. The “not yet fit” market is partially comprised of the previously mentioned sedentary employees. It is, however, much larger than that. It also includes sedentary housewives, sedentary non-professional workers and many other groups. This market is getting plenty of media coverage as to the importance of getting off the couch and into an exercise program.

The aging market. The aging market is another group who are really going for the wellness/health concept and who also fear the volatility of economic chaos. If you want them in your club, power up and go after them. They are ready to change now! REGARDLESS of economic climate. Show them the true pathway to the success they need in dynamic and lasting lifestyle modification!

If you would like additional information on how to navigate the treacherous waters of an economic downturn, contact Geoff Hampton today.

Via e-mail:

Or phone: (865) 304-9409