Following on from the update yesterday I’ve received some feedback and thought it best to share a more detailed update to provide some clarity. I’m sorry for yet another lengthy update but like you all, this is a topic we’re particularly passionate about, and hopefully a little more explanation will provide some clarity.
Below is an excerpt from the ‘closure’ email sent on the 21st March concerning fees, the full copy can be found here: https://www.arabiangym.com/arabian-fees-announcement/
I would also like to provide some clarity on our fees now we are closed:
As with most gyms, but especially so as a non-profit charity, we depend almost entirely on income from our members to continue. The situation for Arabian is critical and we do need to sustain some income through this period of uncertainty to give us every chance of coming out the other end. Naturally we would appreciate it if you’re able to maintain your payments, but we know it’s a tough and uncertain time for all and perfectly understand if this isn’t possible.
In order to make things clear…
- Our fee structure moving forward is very simple, continue to pay each month as much or as little as you can afford.
- If you are able to continue with your fees, even at a reduced amount, then this will certainly help us. We appreciate that circumstances are individual and will let you decide.
- If you aren’t able or decide to put your monthly fees on hold then that is fine too, please just pause or cancel your standing order. As soon as the club reopens these can then be restarted.
- Depending on how long the club has to remain shut, we understand that this decision may change from month to month.
- Whatever your decision, if you haven’t acted already, please do so over the next few days as Standing Orders come out at the start of the month. As monthly fees are collected automatically by Standing Order, we are not able to cancel or amend the amount, you will need to do this.
- Processing refunds takes time and effort which we’d like to spend fundraising, investigating and producing live videos and online learning material. We’d like to assume that whatever decision you make is the correct one and want to minimise or hopefully eliminate refunding any funds received on of after the 1st April unless under exceptional circumstances.
Hopefully you can see from the above that we recognised at the outset that different families would be in different financial positions and mindsets, of course we didn’t know how long the gym would be closed and we still don’t. Some families might want to continue paying fees but were faced with massive uncertainty at the time, some were not sure whether they’d have a job to go back to, there was no help for the self-employed (at the time) and few details on the Job Retention scheme (again at the time). At that point, and this hasn’t changed, we could only ask people to pay if they felt they were able to.
We absolutely understood that not everybody was or is in a position to pay these fees and the last thing we want to do is alienate or upset anyone. Ultimately, although we are a charity, we are a business too, and no business ever succeeds by upsetting their customers. Naturally with over 1000 parents with children at the club, each in unique personal circumstances, it is sadly inevitable that not all decisions will be universally supported.
You will also see that there was never any communication (or even discussion) around prioritising people who had paid over those that couldn’t. Nobody was told it would happen and nobody was told it wouldn’t – there was simply no talk of this at all, indeed at the time we were predominately worried about planning for our mid to long term viability without any income – at that time little if any thought was given to the mechanics of the return.
In terms of the position today, fortunately for the club there are a number of families who have been in a position to support us, some for the whole three months. Without this additional support, plus the support of the Government Job Retention scheme, I can say for sure that none of us would have a club to come back to. As I’ve mentioned before, as a charity we don’t have big financial reserves, and all profits (when we make them) are reinvested into the club for the benefit of all.
Given this support the trustees all felt that if at all possible, it would be a nice gesture if we could somehow repay this generosity in some small way.
Unlike some other clubs, who seem to have prioritised those who can return (those that paid more months come back earlier than those who paid less months) our strategy is to get everybody back from the week we open. Provided we have the uptake (fingers crossed but not a given) and the coaches, we intend running classes 7 days a week. These will have earlier start times and later finish times, albeit with reduced numbers in the gym at any one time so we can be fully compliant with the rules. The simple fact is we will not be allowed, nor will it be safe, to fit the same amount of people in the gym as we could and therefore, we have to put on more classes to enable this.
From a purely financial perspective we have to get as many gymnasts back as possible in the shortest time period. The support of the Job Retention scheme will end shortly, the numbers of those in a position to pay monthly reduces as the months go on, and it’s also very unlikely we will be able to run our biggest fundraising events (our competitions) for at least the remainder of this year. This combination of factors will have a material impact on us if we are not able to get as many gymnasts back into the gym as quickly as possible.
To be clear, it is only when we restart and there is contention on the timings of the classes that would we offer places to those who were able to help us. Our aim is to get everybody back and wherever possible at a time that suits them – hence the running of more classes. If there is a ‘fairer’ alternative to this then we’re open to any and all suggestions but what one parent may view as fair and reasonable may not be the case for another. Also, at this point we have absolutely no idea how many will want or be able to return or whether contention will be an issue.
At the point we reopen, everything will still be far from ‘normal’, and we will be adapting our working patterns to cater for as many gymnasts as possible, as any sensible business would. Of course, we will need some of our customers and staff to be flexible too, but I assure you we will do our very best to give everybody the time they want – it’s in everybody’s interest for us to do so.
Hopefully with some of the information above you can see that all our decisions are based on ‘doing the right thing’ by our gymnasts, parents and staff against a backdrop of a constantly changing requirements.
Lastly, we’re always on the lookout for new trustees and volunteers to help us run the charity and have input to these kinds of decisions – there is a massive amount of work to be done and we would welcome with open arms those that are interested, and particularly so if you have a specific skills set that you feel would be helpful. If you’re interested, please drop a line to Anthony@ArabianGym.com and we’ll be in touch.