(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Northwood High School

Not business as usual: companies alter business models due to the pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, businesses that rely on social gatherings are collapsing. State shutdowns have ordered local stores and big companies to close. However, as the threat of COVID-19 starts to dwindle, old business setups raise public concern for health and safety regulations.

For this reason, gyms and buffets, which promote physical contact, have suffered immensely. Instead, people are downloading workout apps like Fitness Coach to use in the comfort of their own home. But what does this mean for the future of gyms?

For 24 Hour Fitness, it means filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The gym chain announced June 15 that it would be permanently closing 100 locations nationwide, according to Bloomberg.

“If it were not for COVID-19 and its devastating effects, we would not be filing for Chapter 11,” 24 Hour Fitness CEO Tony Ueber said, according to CBS News.

To stay afloat amidst the coronavirus, smaller fitness studios and gym chains like Planet Fitness are uploading their workout sessions online. Although online workouts take away from the real gym experience, people can stay active with personal trainers at any time of the day.

Gyms may not revert to their traditional style, they could choose to remain online. It could be cheaper for smaller gyms, as they can just move to a smaller space and film workout routines. Yet people still choose physical locations over digital sessions because having people nearby motivates them. Gym giants have thrived from large social gatherings for decades, but this pandemic is continuing to redefine how people spend their time.

Many businesses have had to change their models to persist through difficult times. Luckily, gyms are still able to offer their services on a digital platform. Unfortunately, some companies are not as flexible and have had catastrophic consequences due to their rigid business structure.

For the past four decades, Souplantation has made a name for itself through its buffet-style setup, but the chain has finally had to say goodbye. Covid-19 has called for strict physical contact restrictions, and the Souplantation model cannot satisfy this.

“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” Garden Fresh CEO John Haywood said, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Fresh said to the SDUT that the nature of Souplantation will not suffice in the current environment, causing the chain to close all their locations permanently.

The restaurant world is changing as society progresses into the pandemic, and regulations have evolved to fit the current crisis. Sadly, buffet-style chains do not meet these new guidelines, as they require people to serve themselves without proper surveillance.

COVID-19 has caused the corporate world to change in a matter of months. Through these challenging times, companies with adjustable business models have persevered.

Of course, no one expected a pandemic to strike so “suddenly.” Businesses that can quickly provide their services through the Internet have been more successful during this time. The question that arises is: can the internet be used as a revenue stream for your business?

As we enter the age of social media, more options become available for businesses. Business models should be flexible enough to adapt to any situation. Hopefully, in the near future, we can reach a state where businesses can function both in-person and online.