As the president of Title Boxing Club, a boutique boxing fitness franchise with more than 180 locations, I have the safety and health of our members, trainers, franchisees as well as our first-time guests as our company’s number one priority—and we’ve put an even bigger emphasis on providing a clean and safe environment during the last few months and as we reopen.
We’ve had a productive few months at our headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. As a brand, Title Boxing Club has worked hard to shift gears and pivot in an effort to not furlough or lay off any employees. When this started, we divided our corporate staff into five teams: engagement (member, staff and franchisee), revenue (sales and marketing), grand openings (all logistics for re-grand openings such as cleaning and regulations), franchise growth, and digital (Title On Demand and live streaming). This helped people get creative and be cross-functional while focusing on the changing needs of the business.
Each team had a leader and met weekly to ensure goals were being achieved and communication was clear.
Amidst the challenges this pandemic has caused, we at Title Boxing Club are still finding excitement in our team’s growth. People are wearing more hats than ever before, allowing us to discover different skillsets and gifts in the company that we didn’t know about before. We are staying connected and highly engaged through Slack and working to maintain our culture of teamwork and support. Back when we were all in the office together, we would ring a boxing bell to celebrate meeting big milestones or accomplishments, and we are continuing this vital element of our positive culture virtually.
Just as boxers must be nimble in the ring, our Title Boxing Club team quickly learned how to adjust to evolving situations and use technology in new ways. We have jumped on Slack, Zoom, YouTube, Skype, Facebook and other communications platforms to work collaboratively.
I have to applaud our franchisees, who have been rock stars for their members during these unprecedented times. They have been active on social media sharing workout tips and even full classes. A franchisee in St. Louis, Heath Norton, was able to sustain paying members by moving scheduled classes to Zoom instead of in the club. A group of franchisees in New England banded together to host classes streaming on Facebook every day at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. We also had franchisees who, in normal times, hosted regular classes for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and they worked quickly to move these classes to YouTube so they could continue helping those in need.
We wanted to be sure to support our franchisees just as much as they were continuing to support their members. We were ready and prepared for this in 2019 when we launched Title On Demand, a subscription-based service that provides access to hundreds of Title Boxing Club classes online. To provide financial help to franchisees, the corporate office funded Title On Demand subscriptions to keep members engaged through May 31. From a financial standpoint, we’ve also reduced royalty percentages and worked with our POS provider to reduce costs for our franchisees. Our vendors/partners have also stepped up to assist in various ways to reduce cost and help out. Our operations team has been working hand-in-hand with franchisees, creating cash flow projection templates to help guide our brand’s owners in their reopenings.
We’ve also partnered with Odor Crusher, a company that makes products using Ozone3 to kill bacteria, purify, disinfect and sanitize surfaces. All Title Boxing Clubs will install and use the new Ozone3 Deluxe Closet, or our “glove locker.” All first-time guest gloves and personal training equipment will be placed into the glove locker to be sanitized, deodorized and disinfected upon every use. We provided this important cleaning equipment to all clubs at no charge.
Right now, most of our Title Boxing Clubs are re-opening with a modified schedule due to class size limitations. In many locations, classes have gone from an hour to 45 minutes to allow for additional time in between classes to clean. Luckily, each Title Boxing Club is set up for successful social distancing guidelines, as we have always required members to wear gloves and heavy bags are already positioned 5-feet, 8 inches apart. Still, our clubs will remove heavy bags and/or prohibit the use of specific bags to meet the social distancing guidelines of each city. Plus, members don’t have to touch anything upon entering the club. They wrap their own hands and wear their own gloves to hit the bag.
I am confident that Title Boxing Club is going to emerge stronger than before. We have loyal members who are extremely anxious and excited to get back. We hear daily from members who miss their Title family. We have spent this time looking at our practices and protocols with a microscope, have kept a close eye on state regulations and have plans for franchise location re-openings. We will evolve and adapt to our changing world and changing customer base. The quality of our workout has not changed, but some of the protocols to enhance safety have.
Overall, fitness as a whole has never been more important. People want to get back to their routines and visit their local clubs, gyms and studios. The fitness space will certainly incorporate more digital platforms based on consumer lifestyles, but there will always be a key constituency who prefer the in-person experience. Loyalty and enthusiasm for fitness boutiques will continue to grow. People want to take care of their health now more than ever before.