by Angela Reed-Fox
Are you attracting enough new 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.
Low initiation cost
Make sure there isn't a prohibitive initiation cost. If it's too steep to start with, you'll be turning away riders. Remove as many barrier to joining in as you can.
If it's too much to join, and you're putting complete novies in with everyone else, you're going to be leaving riders behind. And what's more - they're your target market! Most adults don't go to the gym. Most of them need to be doing something more for their health. Most of them haven't a clue where to start - and most gyms haven't a clue how to help them. Make it easy. Cycling studios have the added benefit of providing an activity that is easy and safe, low-impact and graduates as you get fitter. Perfect for novices. Don't leave them behind.
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