When tragedy struck in late September and early October in the form of a catastrophic hurricane, Planet Fitness® was there to help restore a little normalcy to the lives of community residents.
Hurricane Matthew blew over Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the southeastern United States, claiming over 1,600 lives. Even more were left with damaged homes and no power.
Ten Planet Fitness clubs located throughout Georgia and South Carolina opened their facilities to the victims of Hurricane Matthew. Members and non-members alike were able to drop in for a hot shower and to use the locker room amenities which were available for up to two weeks after the storm.
“Once the storm hit and passed, we had already made the decision to open up our doors to anyone in need once we were available to do so,” said Joe Pilotte, operations manager for Anchor Management Group, which owns the 10 locations. “That was the easy choice as there were so many people without power and displaced from their homes for long periods of time.”
Throughout the course of the storm, the 10 Planet Fitness locations in the affected area ended up closing their clubs at various times due to evacuation orders and for the safety of members and employees. Anchor Management also helped by making Airbnb arrangements for staff members if needed.
“It was a stressful time coordinating everything in such a fluid situation,” said Pilotte. “It was a long week prior to the storm even impacting the area. Our operations team had to monitor the storm 24/7 as the path was constantly updating and changing.”
In order for everything to run as smoothly as possible in the midst of chaos, the operations team developed a pre-storm closing checklist for each club prior to closing for evacuations. Employees shut down breakers and unplugged equipment in order to prevent damage from power surges. There was also a re-opening checklist to ensure that each club was safe and could re-open as soon as possible.
As soon as the locations were open, they began making their facilities available to those in need. Pilotte estimates that an average of 20 families per location took advantage of the locker rooms and hot showers.
Anchor Management was able to keep members updated on closures and re-openings via its Constant Contact marketing system and also maintained text messaging threads for each market so that staff members could communicate amongst themselves.
Pilotte notes that the various clubs had a few electrical items damaged and a few roof leaks, but overall the clubs escaped any real catastrophe.
“We were lucky to be able to open up as quickly as we were following the storm after seeing the damage it caused throughout the South,” said Pilotte. “We received some great feedback from the community members who came in. They felt we gave them a bit of an uplift following a very stressful event. Many were without power for days so they were more than happy being able to go to work feeling clean and energized. The small amount of normalcy we were able to give went a long way.”