If you are a gym owner, you know that it is important to keep your members happy. One way of doing this is by providing them with the option to work out at any time. But what are the pros and cons of 24 hour access? In this blog post, we will explore some of these advantages and disadvantages so that you can decide for yourself if offering 24-hour access would be right for your business.
What is 24-Hour Gym Access
In short, 24-hour gym access is a service offering where you allow select members to access your facility at any time of the day, with or without staff present.
But let's get our definition straight. We're not talking about big-box gyms with 30,000 sqf. and a 24-hour staff. Those guys are corporate gyms, backed by institutional money. We're talking about the 24-hour gym access model for the boutique fitness business that has a lean staff and a tight-knit community of members.
How to Offer 24-Hour Gym Access
This can get a little tricky. There are many options for this, so we'll just cover some basic elements:
- Insurance: This is not directly related to the technical side of offering 24-hour gym access, but it is foundational. Check with your business insurance provider allows for 24-hour access to your members. Often times, you'll need a specific insurance clause to offer 24-hour access.
- Updated waivers and documents: This goes in line with the specific insurance policies. You'll want to make that members who have access, agree to your term and liabilities
- Door access control system: There are few trusted systems for the boutique fitness gym. On the shortlist are Openpath and HybridAF
- Security Cameras: Since your gym typically wont be staffed on the off-hours, you'll need a set of security cameras in place to help you keep an eye on things. But more important, you'll want a record of events, should something happen during un-staffed hours.
- Gym Management System: You'll want a gym management system to tie into your door access control system. This way you can easily manage who has access to your gym, and sync it with their membership status. The last thing you want is a cancelled member who still has access to your gym.
Benefits of Offering 24 Hour Gym Access
The biggest benefit is the ability to monetize your facility during off hours. (You can basically make money while you sleep!). Some of the main benefits include:
Offer members the ability to work out at any time of day .
It is no secret that many people want to work out but can't make it during the day. For some communities, this can be a huge value add, especially if you facility isn't staff all day.
For your members that are also business owners, offering 24-hour access can be a great way for them to sneak in a workout before or after work. The convenience factor is huge here and you need not worry about giving this perk too often since it comes with an additional cost (or maybe you want to offer it as a loyalty reward?).
Lowers member turnover rate
We firmly stand behind coaching and results being the thing you sell, not gym access. But let's be practical.
Members want value. Sometimes that comes in the form of gym access. Now we're not saying offering 24-hour gym access will prevent member churn entirely, but it can help!
Can be a profitable service for gym owners with low staff and membership
This is might be the main reason to offer 24-hour gym access. Most gyms in our space are already operating at razor thin margins. So any idea to maximize the profitability of your facility should be thought through.
Access to the facility can be an added revenue stream and a way to increase the Average Client Value (ACV). Additionally, you might also attract new members who are looking for off-hour access, who otherwise would train at home or somewhere else.
But with the many compelling reasons to add 24-hour gym access to your facility, there are equally some cons that you should consider.
Drawbacks to Offering 24 Hour Gym Access
There are some pretty big disadvantages that come with offering 24 hour access as well. Most notably is the increased risk of liability, which could result in higher insurance premiums or staff requirements during certain hours to manage this risk. Some other main drawbacks include:
This goes along with increasing insurance premiums mentioned above. Offering 24 hour access can be a liability to your facility in terms of safety and security concerns for you and your members, especially if there isn't adequate staffing during off hours or camera coverage.
Excessive Wear & Tear
Now at first glance this may not seem like much of an issue but when factoring the costs to keep up your facility, it could be a considerable cost. Gyms are notorious for taking wear and tear on equipment (think about how much noise comes from treadmills or free weights during off hours). If you have members in the facility at all times of day that might not seem like an issue but if this is something that's limited to a few hours, it could be a big problem.
Limiting your Availability
A common misconception is that 24 hour access means you're available at all times of day to members. This isn't entirely true but can definitely feel like this sometimes for those in high demand or understaffed facilities. It will take some careful planning and good communication with your members to let them know when you will be available.
Wrap-Up: The pros and cons of 24 hour access can make or break a facility so it's important for owners to weigh both the pros and cons before making this decision. There are definitely some big benefits that come with offering 24 hour access but there are also downsides as well. Some of the main pros and cons to weigh are:
Pros: Increased member loyalty/retention Lower liability (through proper training, staffing levels etc.) Can be a great way to attract new members Easy access for emergency situations
Cons: Higher insurance premiums Increased wear & tear on equipment Staffing requirements You can check out our article about 24 hour access and how it impacts different types of facilities to learn more!