5 Things to Know When Opening a Fitness Studio
By Charlotte Newton
The competitive landscape in fitness, combined with the influx of large global brands opening more locations and the continued expansion of boutique operators, means that opening a new studio can feel like a daunting challenge. Here are five tips to keep in mind if you plan on opening your own studio:
1. Know your niche
It might sound fairly obvious, but defining the niche for your new studio is key when starting out. What your studio offers must attempt to meet the increasingly individual needs of the consumer.
Consider introducing elements of "added value" throughout the studio, to give you a unique edge on competitors. Justin Rogers, Creative Director at Ten Health & Fitness, explains why the launch of Ten Clinical (which bridges the gap between the fitness and medical community) has been instrumental to the studio’s growth, “Ten has always been more than just another boutique fitness provider—with our ability to offer an end-to-end solution, helping people from rehabilitation to full function fitness, we were already well on the way to achieving this. Ten Clinical takes us one step further within that strategy. It also means we can reach a new and growing population for whom exercise isn’t just a lifestyle choice—it’s a genuine need. The response has been amazing so far.”
2. Your people are key
Once you’ve nailed your niche, make sure to do thorough research into your trainers and teachers to ensure they are a perfect fit for your target audience.
Naturally, what makes a perfect instructor will differ depending on your offering. Yogis prefer a teacher with patience. HIIT fans want a trainer that pushes them, while women consider a friendly personality to be the most important trait in a personal trainer or instructor.*
When it comes to the trainers and coaches themselves, Brendan Chaplin, founder of Strength and Success Business Coaching, says, “Knowledge of their clients’ goals, desires, fears and beliefs are key when it comes to getting long-term, transformational results.
“Taking the time to really get to know your ideal customer really does pay dividends down the line. Very often, as trainers, we try to instil in people what has worked for us rather than what is truly best for them. We are teaching them to read from our map of how things should be. The art of effective coaching is to learn to see the world through their eyes. Only then can we make real progress and build a sustainable business.”
3. The price is right
MINDBODY research showed a positive correlation between the most popular studios and introductory offers, suggesting these offers may really have an impact. This research showed that price is a driving force for customer loyalty. When you consider prices for your classes, think about rewarding return customers.** For example, MINDBODY customer XtendBarre offers 10% off retail when joining as a new member, and it’s not uncommon for studios to offer better value to customers when purchasing a package, or even offering "buddy credits" to encourage return visits with a friend.
4. Get tech-savvy
Our research showed that 15% of people think using technology as part of their fitness routine helps improve motivation and keep goals on track, meaning technology can be a great way to add value to your service and keep clients engaged.* We also found that locations with online bookings enabled saw higher customer numbers than those without, showing how an online booking system or accessible website is a key factor in attracting customers.**
5. Spread the word
Another key piece of data we found was that word of mouth continues to be the best performing marketing channel, with over half (58%) of people saying this is how they find a new studio. Online searches and advertising (22% and 19%) are increasingly important, showing that these platforms are vital in building awareness for your studio.*
These platforms aren’t just great for attracting potential customers but are also important in engaging existing customers with inspiring content and, if nothing else, reminding them that you are open!
*MINDBODY Customer Data. January 2012 – December 2017. Analysis undertaken in Feb 2018. One Poll survey with 2,000 UK adults, undertaken in February 2017.
**Survey of 2,000 UK adults and analysis of 70,000 businesses for MINDBODY 2018 Insights Report (full report available on request).