Fitness Studio Management: 5 Answers to 5 Questions You Should Read
The fitness industry has seen a rise in the number of studios, each competing for a limited number of customers. One challenge for fitness and gym business owners is how to increase their income while paying rent, taxes, and other expenses. In this article, we will focus on fitness studio management and share tips on how to develop additional products and services, increase traffic to the studio, reduce the likelihood of last-minute cancelations and handle inquiries about pricing during initial phone calls. Learn how to optimize your studio's profitability and achieve business success.
“My studio is active for 4-5 hours per day, and during the rest of the time it’s empty. How do I increase my income?”
One of the biggest problems in fitness studios is the fact that they are most active for 1-2 classes in the morning and about 3-4 classes in the evening, and during the rest of the time it’s empty, but we still continue to pay rent, taxes and other expenses. Therefore, we have to develop other products and services, to increase our income and the traffic to our studio during these hours. We’re talking about the morning, noon and afternoon. There are lots of options for extra services – activities for the elderly, activities for pregnant women or women on maternity leave (with or without the baby), training for children, weight loss sessions, corporate training (collaboration with organizations in the neighborhood), running groups, rental for private trainers and of course, sub-rentals (for ballet, hip hop or any other class that rents your place, twice a week in the afternoon for example). When we launch an activity of this kind, it’s important to do it right, and follow these steps:
First of all, we should form the professional topic of the activity – defining the target audience, its needs and requirements, the goals and targets, how the training meets the requirements (for example, Pilates or Bone Density for the elderly), the establishment of additional content and proponents to create uniqueness (for example, as part of the activities for women on maternity leave, you can give a lecture once a month about relevant topics, like the nursing or pelvic floor).
After defining the target audience, we have to think about where this audience is, where they spend time and where they find the information they need on a daily basis. One of the most important tips is not to invest in only one marketing channel (for example – only on Facebook) or two channels (and Instagram), but to market and advertise the activities on at least 4 or 5 marketing channels simultaneously. It can be on social media, in our club, with the Arbox client app (push notifications), by word of mouth, a special event at the gym, by collaborating with a relevant organization or center, etc.
Here we should determine the kind of membership we offer and the relevant pricing, decide whether we are having a presale for the activity, form the sales strategy, build a custom sales pitch and practice the sale
“I schedule a lot of trial workouts and people just don’t show up. How can I reduce the likelihood of this scenario?”
One of the biggest frustrations of fitness studio management is that potential customers don’t show up for trial workouts scheduled for them. Really frustrating. The most important tip that would help you reduce the amount and percentage of last-minute cancellations is charging a payment for the trial training. It doesn’t matter if it’s $10 or $15; you just have to charge them for it in advance.
Customers do not appreciate free gifts (yes, we know. It sounds strange). They must invest something in order to appreciate you and what you have to offer. It’s easy for you to explain this to the potential customers (and add it to the sales Pitch) – your classes are in small groups which have a minimum participators limit, so they require pre-registration. If a customer is interested in a trial training then they must pay to earn their spot in the class (at the expense of someone else).
As soon as you start charging payments for trial training, you’ll notice that you’ll schedule fewer workouts (by screening out all the less serious "freeloaders") but your conversion rate from trial training to membership purchases will rise significantly. An important and great addition could be an offer to cancel the trial training fee in case the potential customer joins the club at the end of the training.
Another way to avoid cancellations is to arrange a customer journey for new customers arriving for a trial training – starting with an SMS reminder before the trial (it is recommended to include a pre-training tip like what to eat, and you can also add a motivation song/video), welcome the customer as they arrive and let them feel special, introduce them to the trainer, let them have a good spot in the studio during their training and of course, wait for them at the end of the training. Don’t forget to have them sign a health declaration. If you use Arbox you can do it using a smart digital form, through Arbox’s forms interface.
“Should I give prices to potential customers over the phone during the first call?”
Generally, we're not against giving prices over the phone. However, the membership prices in boutique clubs and studios are higher than in “regular” fitness clubs, and thus, the price might discourage the customer and may not reflect your real product and services. In addition, the conversation might focus on the high membership price instead of the services, differentiation and products you offer.
Therefore, your sales strategy should lead the customer (the new ones – those who don’t know you) to get a glimpse of your studio, and so it’s better for you to invite them for a meeting or a trial training (as mentioned above). All you have to “sell” in the phone call is the trial training or a meeting. It doesn’t matter what your prices are, your potential customer should first see if they like the place, the atmosphere and the trainers.
If the customer still wants to know your prices over the phone, we don’t recommend fixating on not telling them and using the infamous “we do not give prices over the phone”. It might have been the right phrase to use 20 years ago, but it’s not anymore, given we’re in a digital online world. You can give your price range and explain that there are some different packages and it’s best if they come and see what’s right for them.
“How can I reduce the customer churn rates in my studio?”
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the customer churn rates in the fitness industry are high. In big fitness clubs and gyms(and especially in low-cost clubs), the customer churn rates range between 50%-70%!In studios, the rates should be much lower, and that’s where we’re getting to building a strategy, which most studio owners don’t do: customer retention and a customer journey.
You shouldn’t just focus on getting new customers, you should also know how to make an effort for your customers and community during training. What does it mean? You have to create a program that initiates interfaces with your customers (some of which are via phone or SMS), for example: as they join the club, during their first week (it’s a critical week), after 3 months, on their birthday and more. In addition, it’s good to come up with events and generate some content in the studio, which adds value to it and makes our customers more connected to us, never wanting to leave. One of the biggest, most common mistakes with customer retention, is handling “absent” customers.
We’re talking about the customers who didn’t show up for a period of 7-21 days - what happens then? You call them in aim to motivate them back into your club, which only makes them call you back to cancel the membership (we only managed to remind them of it). Instead, we recommend “touching” the “infrequent” customers. What does it mean? These are customers that do arrive at the club but not frequently enough (for example, between one to four times a month). Reach out to see how you can make them come more often (recommend coming with a friend, making a training schedule, meeting with a professional, a personal trainer, etc.).
If you are using Arbox fitness studio management software, you can easily generate a report that will show you all of your absent customers. It’s important to know that all of these things may be done automatically these days, so they’re not time-consuming for you. With Arbox you can set automated messages with birthday wishes, reminders for customers who didn't show up for classes for X days and more.
“I don’t have enough high-quality leads and I feel like I waste my money on marketing”
Business marketing is so important in fitness studio management. Let’s begin with the following recommendation: you, studio owners, shouldn’t be dealing with social media promotion. A professional should. And I’m talking about the sponsored activity, not the organic one (which is managing the page, posting posts and stories, etc.).When you invest money in a campaign, it’s better to be done by a media professional, even if you took a course that explains how to do it by yourselves. Let the professionals do it (look for recommendations from friends or other studio owners who are satisfied with their media performance). You wouldn't want a media specialist as a trainer at your gym, wouldn’t you?
When marketing or campaigning on Facebook/Instagram, it’s important to consider the following:
This must be the first stage. Knowing your target audience. Where do they spend time and what content do they consume and love? The audience may be categorized by gender, geographical area, marital status, interests, and socioeconomic status. After understanding and defining the target audience, move on to the next stage.
What is the message you want to convey? The social media is very competitive so the message should be right, short, quick, catchy and interesting. It shouldn’t be just another Facebook post.
It’s so important! For the same competitive reason, it’s important to invest in a high-quality image or even a video, that will attract your audience. Sometimes, studio owners avoid investing in this, but it’s really important for audience attention.
What Do We Offer?
The campaign is running. The audience is focused, the message is great, and the video is awesome! But sometimes we slip up with the offer – do we offer a membership or a trial training first? we mostly recommend offering a trial. This will help you increase your conversion rate.
Call for Action
ֿIt’s very important that the action you want people to take is clear. It’s ok to ask them to make a phone call but it’s also good to have an option to talk to your salesperson via WhatsApp or SMS (a lot of people prefer this). It’s important for every campaign to include a clear call for action to motivate your potential customers.
When to run the campaign? We have to choose the right timing for it, for example - We wouldn’t invest in campaigning during the holidays when most people are busy doing other stuff. But We would most certainly invest in campaigning right after the holidays – which is the perfect timing.
Got a lead? You have 3-4 hours to call them back. We don’t recommend calling them right after they left contact info (you shouldn’t look desperate even if you really need this sale) but it’s really important not to lose momentum and call them back after 1-2 days.
In summary, fitness studio owners can increase their income and traffic during off-peak hours by offering additional services tailored to specific target audiences, creating a professional and unique program, and marketing it across multiple channels. When it comes to reducing the likelihood of trial training cancellations, charging a payment in advance and creating a personalized customer journey can help. As for giving prices over the phone, it’s better to focus on selling the trial training or meeting first to allow potential customers to experience the studio’s atmosphere and trainers before discussing pricing.
If you’re a fitness studio owner looking to increase your revenue and reduce the likelihood of no-shows, consider implementing these strategies. Offering unique programs can help attract new customers while charging for trial training and creating a personalized experience can increase the likelihood of converting them into paying members. Additionally, focusing on selling the experience first can help you avoid losing potential customers due to pricing concerns. By putting these tips into practice, you can grow your fitness studio’s business and improve the overall customer experience.
Arbox offers a comprehensive fitness studio management platform that can help you develop additional products and services, increase traffic to your studio, reduce the likelihood of last-minute cancellations, and handle inquiries about pricing during initial phone calls. With Arbox, you can streamline your operations, save time and money, and focus on what really matters – providing top-quality fitness experiences to your clients.
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