by Angela Reed-Fox
Attracting new indoor cycling customers
Anyone who tells you this thinks business success is a lot easier than it actually is - and if it were this easy, everyone would be doing it.
"Build it and they'll come" is a misquote of the phrase "Build it and he'll come" from the 1980s film Field of Dreams. In the business setting, it implies that all you need to do is bring a product to market for it to be successful.
This completely ignores the fact that once the product is in the marketplace, it's then that you can do your most rigorous product-testing - on real customers. Listen to them - what do they like? Do more of it. What don't they like? Definitely do less of that.
It's at this point that you can release new features you've been holding back.
And it's also at this point that if your marketing isn't on point, the message just isn't going to get out there.
How do you encourage them to come?
Build your brand
Your brand is the personality of the business. It is how your product 'speaks' to customers and those who are still to try it out. In today's uber-social marketing climate, you need a strong brand. You need quality interactions with your customers.
If you ask for opinions on aspects of your brand or marketing, just be sure that the person understands what you're trying to achieve with your brand voice.
Don't get too emotionally involved in the product you're offering. Yes you should love it - but at the same time you should be able to look at it critically and make necessary changes. If you can't be objective, find someone you can trust, and ask their opinion.
Are you offering an 'easy in"? Is it easy for customers to join in? Test the pathway - does it work? Is it easy for people to sign up or register with you? Is it easy for them to purchase their first class? Is there any information they might find helpful before they arrive - and if so, how do you ensure they get it?
Don't rely on just one or two ways of getting your message out. Get your plans together and keep tweaking as the data comes in. More of what works, less of what doesn't.
Does everything happen that needs to happen in order to deliver your product to a happy customer?
by Angela Reed-Fox
Enable your indoor cycling riders to recover
You'll have seen it, the rider a the back of your indoor cycling class who starts looking a bit green. What do you do?
Well, in the first place, I'd appreciate the fact that a) you managed to spot it, and b) your venue has enabled you to keep an eye on your riders by not making it too dark in the studio.
This state is generally more usually a problem for newer riders who haven't worked out their pacing yet. Also riders who are coming in from elsewhere who have cut their teeth in the 'inevitable death' school of indoor cycling may look a little peaky too. But you'll also get riders who are just not on their usual form and maybe push just that little too hard. So by all means keep an eye on your newbies, but make sure no one else escapes your gimlet gaze either.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Indoor Cycling rider recruitment
Are you attracting enough new indoor cycling customers?
A successful gym or studio is dependent on customer attraction, recruitment and retention. What's easily overlooked, however, is that for many of those who would most benefit from what a gym or studio offers, getting in isn't easy. They may have fear:
Here's what we tried, and what works:
Make sure (by testing!) that the onboarding process is easy, that the new registrant knows where to go, and reducing the chances of the person 'falling through the cracks'.
Test and tweak - and make sure everything is easy. It's all very well putting 'contact us' on a social media post promoting a special offer - but unless you actually plant a specific link there, you'll be missing people. Always, always link to what you're pointing people to.
Easy, trust-boosting sign-up
Online registration is great because it means that as soon as someone has made the decision to join, they can do so straight away.
We combined our registration process with a more comprehensive PARQ form, as well as our marketing permission (see how we did that here).
Immediately the registrant can see that we have pre-empted many issues, they're provided with a nurse contact in case of medical queries, and they can see that we take their safety very seriously.
We call the registrant on the same day of registering, and if they have signed up for our discount club, we add them immediately to that email list, and they receive their 'initiation guide', which lets them know what's what in the studio - what different classes are for, how the technology works, and a bit about the studio culture, and of course - our bikes!
When a new rider is attending a class, we let the instructor know, and we also pass on any relevant health or other information that the instructor will find helpful.
Classes of different intensity
This is the single biggest thing that has provided the easy "in" that has enabled hundreds to give us a try when usually the thought of indoor cycling would have them running in the opposite direction.
As always, we tweaked our product as we saw how customers were interacting with the different class types. Originally we had classes for beginners, progressive riders and advanced riders. We noticed that some riders were reluctant to try different classes, even though working at different intensities is what we should be encouraging our riders to do.
We tweaked! We replaced the original classes with a 'welcome' class for those completely new, a calorie burn (lower intensity but aimed at fat-burning), metabolic booster (aimed at using power and musuclar strength), and our performance classes for riders to improve their strength and stamina on the bike. This change gave riders 'permission' to try different intensity levels and find a mix that suits them.
The 'welcome' class is typically a small one. We strongly recommend that every studio or gym has this type of class - it won't always pay for itself in the short term - you may only have a few riders trying it, but by giving them an excellent start, you're more likely to get them interested and coming back to the other classes. Measure the success of the 'welcome' class in terms of retention rather than profit. The profit comes from the other classes.
Occasionally we come across someone we know we can help achieve so much, who just doesn't have the confidence to start with even the gentlest class. One lady pulled up outside the studio in her car four times before plucking up the courage to come in. Even a 'welcome' class was a step too far.
So we talked. We did a bike setup, we explained how the bikes worked, we explained the heart rate tech we use. We discussed what she needed - and what she wanted. And then she went home.
She came back a couple more times and got on the bike and pedalled, and we ran a mini 5 minute class just for her. She then joined a 'welcome' class as she felt more confident.
Where is she now? She's a member. Her husband's a member. Her daughter is a member. They come to lots of classes - and this only happened because we invested in her that time, and treated her as the special person she is.
Always start well - and carry on.
Choice, but not too much
We found four types of classes were good - not too much choice, but enough for everyone to find what they need. In the same way, we have different payment options - single rides, bundles, or memberships. Keep it simple, and be prepared to explain.
Not enough choice is counter-productive. People don't want to be herded - they want choice, they want to be in control.