5 Surprising Ways to Attract and Retain Fitness Customers
By Kathryn Maguire
As a fitness studio owner, you know you’re doing something right when you keep bringing in new clients. But how do you make sure the people you work so hard to bring in actually come back? We’ve surveyed the 3,000+ businesses we work with and used our own research to identify the top five ways to engage with your customers.
1. Offer something nobody else does...like bananas
To give yourself an edge, make sure your customers are getting something they can’t get somewhere else. “When I moved to Boston,” says Rebecca Skudder, recalling how she started MyStryde Fitness, “I didn’t want to run outside during winter, and I googled spin class but for running, and it didn’t exist. So I started my own studio.”
“To set ourselves apart,” says Cycling Studio owner Marina Ryan, “we create a real sense of community. This means anything from events to chilled towels and bananas or Q-tips in the bathrooms.” And it’s been a winning strategy. Seventy percent of people who discover this cycling studio become members.
2. Forget Facebook and rely on email
Using email is 40 times more effective than using Facebook or Twitter to acquire and engage customers. But what should you send, so you don’t come off as sales-y? What will actually bring them back into your business? Consider using email to genuinely thank your customers for their loyalty.
Nift, a MINDBODY partner, allows you to automatically send thank you emails that include Nifts—or Neighborhood gifts—all at no cost to you. The owner of Btone Fitness says, “We send Nifts as a 'thank you' whenever our customers buy memberships to give them a little kickback. And we almost always get thank you messages (from happy customers) on Facebook or by email when we do that.”
3. Design out-of-the-box events
“When I open a new studio,” says Jody Merrill, owner of Btone Fitness, “my first step is to connect with the neighborhood.” This can mean events to bring new and current clients through the door. Host a beer or wine and cheese night, offer an amazing gift bag, or even bring your normal classes to a new location. Skudder hosts morning runs across Boston well outside her studio to give clients a different experience and shouts each one out on Instagram to bring people into MyStryde Fitness.
Pop-up events can set you apart from your competition. Download our checklist to learn how to host a pop-up event at your fitness studio.
4. Give them pizza...yep, you read that correctly
“When you’re growing your business,” says Merrill, “there are so many markets outside your own little world, and you have to tap into them.”
Find out what your customers love, and figure out a way to give it to them. Of the last 10,000+ people Nift has brought into a MINDBODY business, 57% use their next Nift gift to visit a restaurant or cafe. Your customers are all about food. So give them a gift they’ll really use and an opportunity to explore another business. They’ll love it, think more highly of you, and come back. You’re helping to support the businesses around you, and if you do so with Nift, it doesn’t cost you a thing.
5. Acquire the people who will come back
“I used to always look for new clients at races, or events with runners, and stuff like that,” Skudder says. “But there are tons of potential clients visiting restaurants or bars that I might never know about.” Certain tools can help you bring in those potential clients visiting restaurants and find local customers with an affinity for your business, and bring them through the door. These new clients are 2.2 times more likely to return than other clients. They’re all local, and exactly the type of customer you’d like to bring in.
Marco Beatrice, owner of Aspire! Med Spa says, “We have a higher retention rate from Nift customers because they are local, and they’re coming to us from another local business.”
From events and pizza, to thank you notes and email, there are many ways to bring in customers and make sure they keep coming back.