Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Bodybar Pilates Works It Out
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Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Bodybar Pilates Works It Out

Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Bodybar Pilates Works It Out

Name: Matt and Kamille McCollum

Title: CEO and President

Brand: Bodybar Pilates

How has Covid-19 affected your brand?

The onset of Covid-19 provided us with the opportunity to expand our value proposition to our franchise partners and clients by offering Bodybar Live!, our virtual training platform. We were able to spin this up within 1 week of being shut down and saw amazing client engagement. By doing so, we also were able to retain more than 70% of our systemwide membership revenue as clients were less apt to cancel or freeze. That allowed us to continue to support our staff, pay our rents, and remain cashflow-positive, even in the month of April when no in-person classes occurred.

Unfortunately, we have seen it make a negative impact on development. Brokers seem hesitant to show retail and fitness brands at the moment. While we fully appreciate that sentiment, our unit economics remain strong. We even had a new location open on August 1, with more than 50 memberships sold during pre-sales at an average annual value of about $3,000 per year! Considering the concessions the landlord made and the benefit of the CARES Act covering the franchise partner’s first 6 months of SBA loan payments this level of activity will provide the franchise partner positive cashflow from the first month!

While sales are down, and some employees are hesitant to return, the overall vibe is that the precautions our studios have taken make our clients feel safe, and they continue to support their favorite fitness bar.

What are you doing to help your franchisees get through this?

1) We immediately abated royalties for the months of March, April, and May. This helped our franchise partners have some financial relief as they focused on pivoting to online. 2) We launched and maintain Bodybar Live!, which gives their instructors an opportunity to earn income and build a following beyond their local community. 3) We launched a new Facebook Group that allowed us to gamify online workouts and really create engagement when people were missing it the most. 4) We provided direction and communication on how to properly re-open studios in a safe manner compliant with CDC and local guidelines. 5) We signed four new franchise partners between May and July, providing brand exposure and solidifying the strength of our brand in spite of Covid-19.

How are you supporting your corporate employees?

We are somewhat fortunate in that we are still an emerging brand with little overhead. Our CEO has deferred compensation for the foreseeable future and our remaining three team members have stayed fully employed and hustling to support our new franchise partners. We work remotely and use all the technologies that everyone has become accustomed to during this time.

How are your locations supporting their employees?

As our locations are currently open, team members are working, they are wearing masks, as are our clients during workouts, and we are following all the CDC guidelines to keep them safe. We know we have had some franchise partners who continued to pay at near normal rates when the studios were shut down. At the end of the day, our team members are the most valuable part of what we do. Listening to them and providing assistance whenever possible is the right thing to do.

What are your locations doing for their customers?

Beyond what we have already stated, we have given guidance for relaxed freeze and for late cancel/no-show policies. 

How are you working with your suppliers?

We are syncing on current challenges regularly in order to establish expectations and problem-solve accordingly.

How do you see the future of your brand, operations, market, etc. post–Covid-19?

We feel like the pandemic has validated the health of our business model more than anything. With so many businesses suffering, our formula of building community and delivering a bad-ass workout has allowed our franchise partners to remain in a good financial position. We expect our brand to thrive as we move past this tumultuous season. We know many in the fitness space may not return from this unless they pivot on how they deliver their workouts. While that is disappointing, the market will correct and there will be as many winners coming out of this. We expect our brand to be one of those as we continue to love on our clients, respect our team members, and continue delivering the best Pilates workout in the country!

Published: August 18th, 2020

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