Paulo Augusto Z. Rebello graduated from the American International University in London (1994), specialization course in marketing from ESPM (1997), has studied MBA in theIE Business School in Spain (2006). His vast leadership experience in general management, from leading sales and marketing teams to improving service level and developing customer loyalty programs lead him to his current position as the COO of Just Fit.
Founded by Marco Lara in 2012, Just Fit is a fitness chain based in Brazil. The company reports that it had 35 clubs before covid-19 outbreak, currently 27 gyms across the São Paulo State. It markets itself as a “low-cost, high-value” modern gym with compelling group training and dedicated Fitness instructors.
Indoor Informatics - Everyone knows how enormous the Brazilian Fitness industry is. It employs hundreds of thousands of business and health professionals thus it’s absolutely relevant for the country’s economy and society. Nevertheless, we know every place has their own obstacles. So, in your opinion what’s the biggest challenge a Fitness entrepreneur faces in Brazil? That sort of challenge that was already there before covid-19 outbreak.
Paulo - I would say the most challenging thing is finding the right location for the gym. This is the most crucial point about it. This one wrong step can change everything and you won’t get this investment back. I’d say it’s neither the high taxes we pay in Brazil nor about hiring good professionals only, but the location is the first step you must strategically and carefully consider.
Indoor Informatics - We’ve been noticing how fast paced the changes in our societies and businesses worldwide are due to the current pandemic. In your view, what major changes gym businesses in Brazil are undergoing at the moment?
Paulo - Nobody knew exactly what to do. All we've always had is the usual face to face services, then suddenly everything goes digital and you must keep up the pace and think about solutions to keep the relationship with your customers. One must take this troubled moment and come up with something new, a new product. The customer relationship is deeply damaged: they’re not getting any service so they won’t pay, it’s as simple as that. It severely hit the gym’s budget and revenue.
Nobody was prepared for a 5 months lockdown, it was and still has been arduous for everyone, specially for the small and medium-sized businesses. Not noticing this digital shift has been the pivotal point for either the success or the failure of business. Fortunately we at Just Fit realized it right from the start, thus we created online services, such as the personal online that has already helped 5000 customers via our website. In the upcoming week we’re going to launch a hybrid service, specially set up for this moment of uncertainty. It’s a B2B and B2C service specially planned for for reaching new demands and customers.
Indoor Informatics - Before covid-19 what were the main pain points a gym goer faces in a gym in Brazil? Has it changed with the Covid-19?
Paulo - Customers want convenience on their terms, experiences that save time and effort. Big gym chains are finding ways to overcome obstacles, hence offering new gyms options closer to their customers/prospects. Regarding the peak hours, the customers know they have a time limiter which usually is in the early morning, or somewhere between 6 P.M - 10 P.M. Google analytics shows this, we already make it clear, what our peak hours are. If customers want to avoid crowds, they can also use our online services as well. Besides that, it’s also important to keep on bringing trendy new services all the time.
Indoor Informatics - Is told that this pandemic has changed the way we live, has nurtured more technological and data driven business worldwide. Have you noticed or have you been using any tech that made your life easier and more efficient as a manager?
Paulo - We use some apps that assist us to align projects, due dates and other tasks, mostly Business management tools.
Indoor Informatics - Have you ever employed any technology that substantially made your gym customers’ lives easier and happier? If not yet, what's holding you back?
Paulo - Yes, We have. As mentioned above, we use those apps that assists us to manage our gym equipment portfolio. It helps us in the assets monitoring, for instance gym flooring or mat that was torn out or anyhow damaged and needs replacement.
Indoor Informatics - What are your expectations, personally and professionally speaking, about the post-covid-19 in the country’s gym businesses?
Paulo - I believe we’ll be consolidating this market in the 2 upcoming years. The pandemic has sped up this process,2 big chains will be dominating the local fitness market. The physical-digital products, services and experiences will become the norm to cope with times of uncertainties like these. The necessity made more businesses to realize that there're great opportunities out there yet to be implemented in a digital way. Besides that, there’ll be a drop in gym attendance in the 5 months to come, or until regain customer's trust. We expect some growth during summer next year (2021) and a strong growth curve after that.
Despite these turbulent times, I am very optimistic that the digital services will attract new clients and we must gain their trust by high quality services and professionals. Competence, transparency and building good relationships with customers are the key.
Thank you so much Paulo for your precious time and points.
Stay tuned for more updates. We’ll be interviewing one more great Fitness entrepreneur from Brazil who generously shared his points with us.
Interviewed by Marcos Vinicius, Sales Manager at Indoor Informatics.