Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.
We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand
Keeping a routine during periods of uncertainty is proven to help manage mental health, and according to the World Health Organisation, 150 minutes of exercise per week can help ease anxiety and depression.
In late March, the NSW Government announced the closure of all gyms in an effort to help stop the spead of the coronavirus. Two months later, and we’ve done a fantastic job at flattening the curve (well done, Australia!). But, as a result of the restrictions, personal trainers had to re-think the way they work. For PT and fitness expert, Manny Katts, that meant his group fitness classes came to a sudden halt.
Rather than dwelling on the lack of business, he took a week to come up with a plan of attack after he lost all his clients at once. Katts decided to offer virtual training sessions, through Zoom. In order to book, clients jump onto his website and check out through the SHOP section.
To set this up, he called GoDaddy straight away (he used GoDaddy website builder to originally set up his site), and customer service helped him set up the shopping section of his website, in order to pivot his offering. He explained, “The streamlining of operations through GoDaddy was very easy for me”.
Rather than charge his usual session fee, Katts is offering virtual classes for just $5, in an effort to support his community — the community that has supported his career for over three decades.
To learn more about how Manny Katts is operating his business, WarriorKatt, during this time, keep reading.
TheLatch— Hi Manny! Can you please share more about yourself and your business?
Manny Katts: Of course! I’ve been doing PT now for almost three decades. Initially when I first started, it wasn’t as professional as it is now. Eventually, to properly set up the business, the first step I took was to establish a business name. And then after that I created a website through GoDaddy. People can access more information about me and see what I like to offer, rather than just handing out cards when I meet people.
TL: A much more efficient way of working! Having a website is a game-changer. The fitness industry has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus. When did your business first start to feel the effects?
MK: Pretty much on March 23 when the government put restrictions in place. Business hit a brick wall.
TL: So what did that mean for you? How did you pivot your business?
MK: Well, I lost pretty much all my clients at once. So, I took a week or so to reinvent my website. I gave myself a week to think about how I’d shift the business, and then reached out to clients and friends on Facebook and other social media and email to say, “look, I’m going to do some stuff online”.
I had to really re-evaluate the way I work and train people, because many don’t have the right equipment at home. So we do what we can — we kick, punch, lunge, stretch — things that people can do anywhere, anytime with minimal space and equipment.
“I had to really re-evaluate the way I work and train people.”
TL: So have you been putting together specialised programs for clients or are you using videos?
MK: I’m using Zoom as my platform and I’m teaching at certain times of each day. I’m scheduling sessions, and people can login when they pay for it. I run an extra class, where I do the class with them and educate them and coach them, kind of like a real conference, but that’s the closest we can get to real-life sessions.
TL: The NSW Government is slowly changing restrictions. How does that impact you? Will you be pivoting again and moving classes outdoors?
MK: I’d have to see how that will go. Right now, most of my classes have between 60 to a hundred people anyway, so we won’t be able to train outside.
TL: How did you find updating your website and communicating those changes to your client base?
MK: Easy! Actually, I called GoDaddy straight away, and they were really good with advising. I love their customer service. I really enjoy that I get a phone call every month to check in on how I’m going, and they’ll advise where I can be better utilising the site.
One example of how they helped — I had the online shopping function there and it was really easy to set up for online classes. The streamlining of operations through GoDaddy was very easy for me.
“I really enjoy that I get a phone call every month to check in on how I’m going… and where I can be better utilising the site.”
TL: So you’re using the online shop for people to book classes and it’s only $5 a class. Is that right?
TL: So has that helped you maintain some revenue?
MK: No, to be honest with you. I, as much as I need the money, was just trying to give back to the community because no one has a lot of money right now. So I just said, “look guys, I’m normally $120 plus an hour.” So I said “$5 — as long as I can keep you guys on the straight and narrow wherever I can, that’s me helping you guys out.”
TL: That’s amazing that you’re offering such a discount for your community at this time.
MK: Look, I’ve been teaching for almost 33 years and the industry has been good to me. That’s one of my career perks. It’s not about the money at the moment. It’s about people’s wellbeing because a lot of people are not in a good place.
Even I’m getting mental health support at home. I can’t imagine what it’d be like for other people that are used to that adrenaline kick or that coaching by another person to make them feel better. And suddenly, it’s been taken away from them.
TL: Absolutely, and so many thrive from being around other people and now, that’s not possible. Exercise is more important than ever for that adrenaline rush.
MK: Yeah. It really is now, everyone needs to take care of their mental state, and exercise can help you do that.
TL: Do you think that the way you operate your business will be changed for good once we emerge from this period?
MK: I think I will. I’m probably going to start putting videos online and I might continue the online classes. I’ll see how it pans out. But I think I’ll be doing a lot more online stuff and providing online options for people who want that.
“Everyone needs to take care of their mental state, and exercise can help you do that.”
TL: There will be a positive that comes out of this. While for now revenue streams are closing or smaller than what they were, there’s an opportunity to open up new revenue streams once we emerge from this period, because everyone’s thought a little bit harder about how they can operate online.
MK: True! I mean, look, I liked the online thing. For me, I like face-to-face interaction when I teach. When you come into a classroom, you’ll understand why, what I’m like. You’ll see. Are you in Sydney?
TL: I’m in Sydney!
MK: Okay. You have to come and do my Saturday morning combat class at Bondi Junction. You’ll see what it’s like.
TL: I’d love to! What’s been the most popular class while people have taken from you online, while we’ve been in isolation?
MK: It would have to be my Pilates class at the moment.
TL: I guess because that’s quite easy to do at home.
MK: Yeah, it’s really consumer-friendly. You just need enough room to lay down on your back and to be able to stand up and you can literally do the class anywhere.
That’s the other thing — we’re going to have a lot more options for exercise when we emerge from this. More people will be working out from home than ever before, and I think more people will work out than ever before. If they took it for granted before, they definitely won’t now.
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