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Ollie Bailey

5 strategies to market your fitness business

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

How are you going to market your fitness business as you Get 2023 ready?

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our fourth blog post in the series, we looked at operating tactics to save time and maximise revenue.  In this post, we turn to thinking about promotion and how to think about marketing your business.

This post dovetails with a number in this series, especially Who are you targeting as new customers? What do they want from their fitness provider? and What incentives should you offer your current or target customers? Those posts include some internally focused marketing tactics for driving referrals.  Here we focus on what external, outward-facing tactics you can use to promote your business.

Fundamentally, to market your business successfully you need to deliver the right message at the right time to your target customer.  The first step to any marketing, therefore, is to ensure you’re clear on your messaging and brand.  What values do you want to convey?  How do you differentiate yourself from other fitness or wellness businesses?  Buyers want to see an authentic message, as much as possible, personalised to them.  Being clear on what benefits they’ll get from your services and placing that in context for them is often key in motivating, and indeed justifying the buying decision.  With your messaging clear you can move on to consider what marketing tactics are right for your business.

Focus on social proof

As you promote your business you’ll very likely need to offer credibility to your messaging.  The very best way to do this is with customer testimonials and social media support.

Think about how you can effectively collect a good number of testimonials with permission to use them (!).

It’s also worth trying to ensure your customers are following you on social media, and perhaps you can even incentivise them to do so – as you then have a more engaged audience to share content that you can post through your own channels.

Direct marketing

With everyone now so digitally focused and online for long periods of the day it’s tempting to overlook traditional marketing techniques.  However, it’s also important to remember that location is a hugely important factor in people’s decision to buy your services and, indeed post-pandemic with the shift to work from home, many will be spending even more time outside of city centres.

So thinking about direct channels, such as local listing magazines, coffee/supermarket bulletin boards and even leaflets in local businesses/health services can be a super way of generating awareness.

Local groups and associations

Building on local activity, it’s worth researching if there are any local groups that you may be able to join (which often have large and active Facebook groups too) or even sponsor to promote your business.  Examples would be business trade groups or sports clubs.  These can be a great way to both meet potential new customers but also a means to partner to cross-promote businesses while raising your local profile.

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the way in which you can be discovered via searches made on online search engines such as Google.

If you have a website building a strong SEO presence (even if you know what you’re doing) can take some considerable time, especially if there’s competition for the key search terms that you’d want to rank for (e.g. ‘gyms near me’).  There are a number of Google-driven ranking website ‘good hygiene’ criteria you’d want to ensure are added, as well as adding relevant content regularly.  In short, it’s likely to be something that if you’re going to focus on, you may want some expert support with (even if that’s small tweaks/directional advice).

As a result, building, maintaining and actually getting leads via a website can be far more costly and longer process than people envisage.  That’s not to say it’s not the right option for many – you have to start somewhere, and if done right can be terrific, but for many, it might not represent a good short-run return on investment.

There are, however, ways in which you can still benefit from SEO without having to have a full-blown SEO-optimised website.  For example, it’s worth checking if your booking system gives you a unique web page that is SEO optimised as part of the deal.

Paid digital ads

Depending on your budget, you may wish to look at either paid Facebook or Google (PPC – pay-per-click) ads.  The former are display based on people’s stated/revealed interests and the latter based on entered search terms on Google (so can be a way to shortcut SEO optimisation).  Whilst setting these up can be intimidating, like most platforms, if you invest a little time in understanding the basics you can upskill to run them both without necessarily needing a local marketing agency to help.

The great thing about both is that you can run limited tests without having to over-commit.  If you’re not tech confident, you may want to look at whether a local marketing agency could help.

The reality is that the entailed time, set-up cost and likely need to experiment in the early days may mean this isn’t for every business, but if you’re a larger business, with a strong digital presence (with a good digital way of converting customers from leads to customers) then they’re definitely worth considering. 

That completes our Get 2023 ready series.  We hope you have found it informative.  Please do follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to keep up to date with new business management content, offers and news!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

How to manage booking availability and cancellations

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our third blog post in the series, we looked at how pricing tactics and how to think about using incentives to increase sign-ups, improve customer retention and motivate referrals.  In this post, we build on that topic to think about operational efficiency and specifically what booking availability and cancellation policy tactics you can employ to boost efficiency and revenue.

Manage when booking opens

Many businesses create, and publish their schedule and create a simple structure whereby anyone can book in immediately, right up to the start time of a session.  Whilst this may be fine if capacity isn’t a constraint, we think it’s still a good idea to consider a more refined policy because of the messaging it can send your customer base…

For example, if you note that bookings for a session open X amount of time before it starts (e.g. 1 week), then you can create (whether it exists or not) a sense of demand/urgency for people to book their space because they may fear on missing out otherwise, as they know others are going to be looking out to grab it.  This additionally prevents customers from booking too far into the future, decreasing availability when there’s a reasonable chance their plans may yet change and be unable to fulfil the booking.

Manage when booking closes

Perhaps less obvious is the idea to set when booking closes for a session past the start time of a session. How many times has someone turned up last minute, or a customer brought someone new for an intro session where admin is done in a hurry?  By closing bookings for a session at a set time after the session finishes you can enable anyone that turned up late or failed to book on to still participate and yet still go back and pay what they owed whilst keeping your and their booking records up to date.

If you record your sessions and want to have a timetabled set of pre-records for sessions (rather than just keeping it in a static on-demand library), this tactic can also be really handy for securing some extra revenue, allowing customers to book the session/pre-record long after it’s finished.

Manage prioritised access

You can also consider whether you want to give certain customers priority access to being able to book before others.

This can be a great way to reward customers for making a purchase.  For example, perhaps a benefit of booking a course/block is that you’ll get a priority buying period on the next course/block that’s released.  This can create good ongoing commitment with an incentive to maintain their spot based on knowledge may not be able to get it back if they don’t recommit.  By making that repeat buying decision, it can also reinforce a feeling of accountability and desire to attend, something that in our experience can naturally wain with standard recurring memberships.

Another option with this feature would be to offer certain sessions as ‘Member’ only, creating further value differentiation as against pay-as-you-go or shorter-term commitment packages.

Enable digital payments

If you’re reading this post, it’s perhaps unlikely that this isn’t taken for granted, but we think it’s worth noting nonetheless!

Some businesses decide to take bookings without enabling any payments, saving some transaction fees in the process.  Whilst this can work ok for some, and indeed Gymcatch can support this too, our experience is that this often proves a false economy.  Remember this gives people that cancel free access to your sessions and the potential to cost you both the money they would have spent, but also the money that someone else who could have booked the space would spend.

You’ll also have to spend time checking bank accounts against attendance and chasing for payment where necessary.  Assuming your time is limited, you should put a cost to this activity in a week – in our experience, even something at less than minimum wage more than pays for the related transaction costs (and in Gymcatch’s case, the software costs too!).

Sensible wait lists

Ensuring you use a waitlist strategy that maximises revenue for your business is important. Historic first-in-line methods can prove counter-productive, as they entail that those who were on them have had the most time to make other plans.  Indeed, the time it takes those on them to confirm or reject the take-up of their place further reduces the time others have to reply.  Far more efficient is to release any spare spaces on an equitable first come first served basis.

Use reminders and calendar sync

Reminders can be a double-edged sword – for some, if they’ve made a booking and it’s on their calendar, a reminder is an unwelcome interruption.  That said, they can be helpful if your client base are busy and decided to disable that setting/haven’t put it in their calendars and we’d always offer a customer the ability to configure their notification settings, so in moderation, they can certainly be value add.

Set a cancellation policy

Setting a policy is a delicate balance between ensuring you give your customers an incentive to book early / flexibility in case their plans change and the fact that you’re running a business and need the certainty of revenue and attendance to successfully deliver your services.

Our data supports the view that offering some flexibility for customers is a good idea and, indeed, now the market norm.  We’d strongly recommend enabling a swap should be the means of ‘refund’ rather than cash. This ensures you don’t miss out on the revenue whilst giving your customers some additional flexibility.

Clearly stating the cancellation policy at booking is evidently a good idea, and ensures any disputes or issues are kept to an absolute minimum.

In terms of what timeframe you’d allow a credit back/swap to a different session, factors such as what number of attendees makes a session profitable, the notice period you think alternative customers would need to be able to fill the space and a headline assessment of your ideal customer’s typical schedule all feed into this equation.

Generally, we see 3 hours – 24 hours before a start time as the norm but do remember you can set different policies for different sessions if you wish.  For example, perhaps you might be more generous with your 5-6:30 pm sessions than in-school/middle-of-the-day sessions because you recognise that work/traffic variables may be more of a worry for your target customers.

In our experience, as long as you build some flexibility into your model and clearly communicate the policy, customers are thankful for whatever you choose so be sure to think carefully about your policy and ensure you don’t encourage behaviour that ultimately costs you money.

With your operating tactics optimised in our next blog post in the Get 2023 ready series, we’ll consider when and how you’re going to promote your business. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

What incentives should you offer to your customers?

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our second blog post in the series, we looked at how to set a pricing strategy.  In this post, we build on that topic to think about pricing tactics and what incentives you may consider both to bring in new customers but also to increase spending and retention from your existing ones.

Broadly these incentives fall into three types:

  • Incentives to try/join
  • Incentives to commit
  • Incentives to refer

Incentives to try/join

These incentives are well-known and would include ‘First class free’, ‘First month free’ or ‘Free PT consultation’ etc.

When thinking about these types of incentives it helps to think about three questions.

First, consider how long is needed to determine whether they’ll benefit from your services.  This also, of course, should take into account how long you’re asking your customer to commit. For example, if you’re requiring a yearly contract you may want to give a potential customer longer to decide than if you are offering pay-as-you-go classes.

Secondly, consider how long you think a customer needs to become an engaged customer. How long do they need to build a routine or habit that ensures you’ve converted them?

Thirdly, consider the cost to you of the offer.  Can you afford a strong take-up of the incentive?  The cost to set up and administer the offer should also be factored in.

It is also worth noting, that if you don’t feel a free or longer free period is justified, a discount can work just as well for many, especially in relation to more expensive services.  This approach can also place a higher perceived value on quality and demand which for less price-sensitive buyers may be desirable.

Incentives to commit

These incentives are more business model considerations and would include decisions around whether to offer memberships, courses/blocks and class packs etc.

The consideration here is how much you want to require or even incentivise a bigger upfront commitment as against short-run or even per-session payments.  For many smoothing and visibility of future income is desirable, but in an age where customers increasingly value flexibility, this can be a difficult balance to strike.

For some businesses with high demand or waitlists, the right decision here will be to not incentivise commitment at all, but rather just enable a regular full-priced (e.g. membership, or course/block) for customer convenience of buying or securing a space.

A second option where demand is strong or artificially creates that view is to incentivise commitment based on the access.  For example, you could give members or course buyers priority access to sessions, or an existing course buyer priority over a space on the next.  This can create an incentive to commit without costing you anything.

Where offering a price incentive to commit is desirable, matching that to your customers’ cash flow and own schedule is a good idea.  For example, if your customers generally have children, would it be a better fit to offer term-time blocks rather than year round memberships?  Or perhaps if you want to keep a premium pay-as-you-go pricing model just offering a small discount on class packs that expire based on a date from purchase may make more sense than a discounted membership.

Incentives to refer

Finally, we consider incentives you may wish to offer to customers or local partners for referring new customers.  These are often more costly than standalone free trial products, as it generally makes sense to also include your standard offer for the new customer.

Examples might be a free class pass when you bring a friend, a month’s free membership for a successful sign-up, a gift card on success or even straight cash.  Generally, it makes most financial sense to offer incentives where you can absorb your margin as part of the cost (i.e. it’s not an additional hard cash outgoing), but this of course is only the case if the incentive proves sufficiently motivating as against offering something more tangible like a gift card or cash.

Given their additional cost, we’d recommend carefully considering when and for how long these types of incentives are used, as well as meticulously tracking how successful they are.  The one big advantage they have is that it’s very likely that your existing customer base has good access to potential customers with a similar demographic and set of needs/preferences.  As such, whilst these incentives cost more, there’s every chance they’ll convert well and, indeed, may be less costly than other more outward-facing marketing initiatives.

Thinking more widely than your existing customer base for referrals can also be beneficial.  Perhaps there are local businesses with a large employee base, a service provider or even a coffee house/restaurant that has a client base that would match up well to your services who you could create a more bespoke offer for.  There’s every chance there are businesses that you may even be able to partner with to offer something in return to reduce or even remove the cost entirely.

With your pricing strategy and incentive tactics now thought through, in our next blog post, we’ll move to thinking about operational efficiency strategies, including cancellation policies. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month. 

How to price your fitness services

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

How to price your fitness services.  What are your customers willing to pay for your services?  How long and what are they prepared to commit to?

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In our first blog post in the series, we thought about how to define your target customer and how that should inform the services you offer.  In this post, we build on that topic to consider the evergreen topic of pricing. Here we focus on your pricing strategy, and in a follow-up post, we’ll get deeper into specific promotional tactics. 

Be aware of bias

Before we think about your business, it’s worth raising a couple of important human characteristics that invariably influence pricing.  The first is a psychological bias known as ‘loss aversion’.  This bias can unconsciously lead you to under-price your services.  The bias entails that we fear loss more than valuing potential gains, so as applied to pricing, it entails that it’s natural to take what you’ve charged to date, or what the competition charge, as a reference point, fear the worse with regards customers’ propensity to not pay or switch services, and undershoot what you could charge.  i.e. you fear the worse when considering a price change rather than accurately weighing that as against the potential upside.

Secondly, there’s an emotional element to pricing for many. One likely strength of your business is its sense of community and your relationships with your customers.  Many may be considered friends who you socialise with.  This can naturally lead to a desire to please/aversion to confrontation and impact your confidence in making price changes, especially in a scenario where you feel funds are tight.

Of course, both of these natural tendencies exist for a reason, they serve us well in many situations, and ultimately you won’t (nor should you) try to ignore them completely but being aware of them can help in driving a more objective assessment of your businesses’ pricing strategy.

Keeping those tendencies in mind, we move to assess two important inputs to your pricing strategy; your business and your customers.

Your business

As you think about pricing your fitness services, you need to start by ensuring you understand the costs that need to be met by the output of your strategy – i.e. to understand your breakeven point.

Your monthly breakeven point should include your desired base income and all venue and marketing costs.  If you know you’ll be quieter in certain months of the year (and have required outgoings for those months) you should factor this into your thinking for busier periods.  A good exercise during this time is to assess your costs for any efficiencies that can be made. This will help you identify the common costs you can reduce (insert link). This is to say, you’d increase your income target in the busier months to make up for the quieter ones.

A second business-level consideration is cash flow. This is really about the timings for incoming and outgoing cash to your business and ensuring that they are aligned.  Generally, there’s a trade-off between offering longer-term (e.g. monthly memberships, courses/blocks) and shorter-term (e.g. pay as you go, class packs) commitment-based products. 

The former strategy gives greater visibility of revenue but the latter, as it’s normally priced at a premium, would be, all things equal, revenue maximising.  The extent to which you want to smooth cash flow versus relying on regular repetitive purchases feeds into how you price the different products you offer.  Of course, what your customers are able and willing to commit also feeds into this.  Quite often the right answer is a blend, but every business is different and should think through the value to them of each.

Your customers

With your breakeven point and cash flow needs to be established, we’d recommend experimenting with different pricing and customer purchasing numbers on paper or a basic spreadsheet.  From this, you can begin to get a feel for what range of pricing and demand meets your breakeven point and generate some ideas from which to evolve your thinking.

You can now look at your pricing ideas from your customers’ (and target customers’) perspective.  Assessing willingness to pay is difficult but using your customer profile from our first post in the series and reviewing, if applicable, how customer retention changed after a previous price change will all feed into your overall conclusion.  Trying to place them (generalised) on a 1-10 sensitivity scale may help.  If you think they are highly sensitive then you may also want to consider what the local competition is doing and pay some attention to that. This is not to say you match or undercut, more just be sure that the value you offer can be clearly communicated in comparison.

Once you’ve formed a view on price sensitivity you can overlay that against your range of high-low pricing and product commitment (long v short-term options) models to conclude what makes sense for your business.

Track and review

As you launch your new strategy, be sure to regularly review how it’s performing and consider whether the assumptions you’ve made throughout this process are holding true.

Having followed a logical process, you should feel confident in the strategy and launch.  That said, as the above has revealed, determining a sound pricing structure requires you to make reasonable assumptions across often inferred preferences, so ultimately you can’t be 100% certain on how a new offering or changes will land.  As such, how you communicate price changes is also important – our 5th blog post in this series will come back to the subject of messaging.  So, as you launch, stay close to your customers as you launch it and watch for feedback. 

‘Watch’ is the right word, because stated versus revealed preferences can be very different here.  For example, I might indicate that I’m upset about a price rise, but if I still pay/keep coming there’s perhaps a reality that I can’t be that upset about it.  Indeed, it may be that you’d weigh that type of feedback from customers more than others.

With your base pricing strategy now established, we’ll build on these considerations in our next post and look at how you can evolve your pricing tactics to add incentives for current and target customers.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

Ollie is the founder of Gymcatch, a booking and customer management software company with monthly pricing starting at £/$10 per month.

How to define your target customer

By Fitness business management archives and news, Gym and studios, HIIT and group, Pilates, Yoga

Who are you targeting as new customers? What do they want from their fitness provider?

Between now and the end of the year we’re going to take a look at 5 areas to help you Get 2023 ready.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to be sure you don’t miss our follow-up posts.

In the first post of our series, we look at why it’s important to define your target customer and how to do it.

As you plan for 2023 it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about your perfect customer.  Your customer profile informs everything at your business; what products/packages you offer, your pricing and marketing strategy.  We’ll explore those wider theme’s later in this series, but let’s first think about how to build that profile.

The best place to start is by interviewing, or at least thinking about, a selection of your customers that you’d consider ‘ideal’. How you conduct your research is up to you, you could use a free online survey tool, paper questionnaires or even just write down based on your personal knowledge (we know many instructors know their customer base very well!).

Below we explain the four most important factors to consider when building your ideal customer profile.

  1. Demographics

These are personal pieces of information that describe who we are as individuals and include age range, sex, income range, education, and family status. 

  1. Attitudes

These are lifestyle considerations and focus on what habits they follow, and what goals and pain points they have.  What values and interests do they have?

  1. Actions

This is about behaviour.  Consider how, when and what products those customers buy and potentially ask what they’d like to see added.

  1. Location

With the shift towards working from home, this consideration is particularly relevant.  Consider where your perfect customer is based at different times of the day.

With those questions answered, you can build something like this below (not that it needs to be made pretty!)

From here you can do two things:

  • Review your service and product offering in light of attitudes and location
  • Think about where to find new customers

Reviewing your service offering

Whilst there’s every chance that your current services meet your target customers’ attitudes and location you should take the opportunity to review this regularly. Asking yourself a few simple questions can help:

  • Do all of the services you’ve offered in the past still make sense?
  • Do the buying habits (what’s bought and when) reveal anything about what you should increase or decrease?
  • Do your services accurately map to what your customers state they want?
  • Are there any additions that would better fit or complement their revealed preferences?
  • Do the times of day you offer your services fit their routines?
  • Is there a better or additional location you could use that would better fit their routines?

Think about where to find new customers

With your customer profile built you can now begin to think about marketing tactics:

  • Who would they trust for health/fitness advice or recommendations?
  • Where (digitally / in-person) do they hang out?
  • How best to leverage customer referrals?
  • Are there any local/corporate business opportunities to access them?

This may take some time, and some further research so begins to build that understanding in the next couple of weeks as we review the other building blocks of your business. Making notes on your phone, or having a pad with you to jot ideas down as they come to you is also a good idea.

With your ideal customer profile built and service offering reviewed in our second blog post we’ll move on to consider pricing.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter to see when it drops in the coming week!

5 key considerations for managing block bookings or courses

By Dance, Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news, Gym and studios, Pilates, Yoga

In this blog, we consider when to sell sessions in courses or blocks, how best to maximise their operational efficiency, and block-to-block customer retention.

Are courses or blocks right for your customer?

A common theme in our business management content is to start with your customer.  We make no apologies for this, when thinking about your business model you should always start with an assessment of your customer or target customer.

When reviewing whether a course/block of sessions is right for your customers it helps to consider a few headline questions:

  • Do you assess your client’s progress frequently or set short-term milestones?
  • Is there a scheduling reason that courses/blocks may suit your customer better than other models (i.e. pay-as-you-go/memberships)? For example, are you targeting parents that have more availability during school term time?  Or kids where it’s often vice versa?
  • Can your customers afford larger one-offs, or twice over-term payments?
  • Would a perceived lack of flexibility in scheduling put them off?
  • What, if any, service would customers want when you’re not running courses?

When considering these questions, it is perhaps not surprising that many of our business customers who operate this model do so because:

  • They focus on parents as a demographic, effectively dove-tailing with school terms
  • The structure is particularly popular with Pilates and yoga modalities
  • Other programs where clear end results over a period are a focus often use them, with many personal trainers offering either 1-2-1 or small group training courses/blocks.

Your decision-making process can, of course, also be supported by considering whether alternative business models would work better:

  • In instances where courses/blocks make the most sense, it’s often the case that a membership model might be perceived by your customers as too long-term, or a waste of money (as regular commitments mean it wouldn’t get used for much of the year)
  • Whilst pay-as-you-go can supplement course income, running that by itself may also be seen as lacking a desired certainty of attendance for customers and, indeed, income for you as the business owner.  

How to think about retention

A reason we often hear for using memberships over courses is that the former encourages greater retention, as it doesn’t require a regular review / re-purchase. With this, it’s assumed that by surfacing the buying decision regularly you can increase the chances for the customer to cancel/not re-buy.

In our experience, and based on the data we see, this is not a valid assumption, and we believe it rests on some antiquated thinking.  Whilst memberships are absolutely a great model for many businesses, having a recurring, ongoing, payment does not in itself increase customer retention.  Customers are now, perhaps more so than ever, very aware of their outgoings and rights with regards to cancellation.  Just because a payment is automated does not mean that it is unknown or unnoticed.

In our experience, when businesses build a course-centric customer base the ongoing requirement to commit to the next course/block serves to increase retention.  This is because it introduces a ‘fear of missing out’.  This is to say that customers can be made aware that spaces are limited, the course is popular, and if they don’t recommit then they may lose their space with no guarantee they’ll get it back.  This in turn increases their propensity to turn up to sessions and make use of their allocated space.  It therefore actually serves to have a positive impact on accountability, far more so than with a membership where the available sessions are entirely optional/bookable.

In addition, you can increase the ‘fear of missing out’ by layering extra privileges on buyers of your past course/blocks.  For instance, you could offer a priority purchasing window for your next course/block that’s only accessible to those that bought the previous one.  This adds immediacy to the buying decision and, again, drives repeated attendance and accountability which will assist in retention (our industry-leading Priority Access feature can help here).

How to handle swaps and drop-ins?

One understandable gripe we repeatedly hear on our consults is the time it takes many to administer week-to-week swaps when courses/blocks are running.  Illness, transport, childcare, and holidays are common themes that can cause customers to miss scheduled sessions and want to swap into different courses/blocks’ weekly sessions.

Whatever you decide to set for your cancellation policy for sessions, if you’re offering a swap/credit, the process needs to be easy and manageable.  Ensure you find a system (e.g. Gymcatch) that can handle the customer canceling and rebooking of their spot (where there’s availability) across courses/blocks without having to contact you.

With regards to drop-ins, these can be a nice way to both enable swaps, but also boost income if your course isn’t full.  The main thing here is to ensure that you’re not opening up too many spots too early (i.e. too far before their start time).  It’s important to remember that for every drop-in you sell, that reduces your total course capacity (until that session is complete) by one.  So drop-ins at premium pricing are really best used either when they’re made available close to the start date of the session, or if there’s considerable excess capacity in the course.

What to do outside of course term time?

Where courses/blocks are run across school terms, we see two approaches to non-term time.  One approach is to leave the calendar clear.  This can give customers a break, and the flexibility to manage childcare without feeling like they’re missing out or, guilt for non-attendance.  This can also give the business owner some valuable time to refocus on pre-marketing the next courses/blocks and general admin that’s difficult to do during the period of delivery.  If you hire space and variable business costs, it can also mean that you don’t necessarily continue to incur in-term overheads.

The second option we see deployed successfully is for a more flexible set-up over the period.  This might be where you allow only pay as you go, or class pack / bundle-bought sessions.  This can be a great way to boost non-term time income and gives those that want to maintain their routine the ability to do so, all without in any way prejudicing those that can’t.

How to launch or migrate to a new booking system?

If your booking system doesn’t allow for all of the above, then there’s potentially a decision to be made to migrate to one that does.

If you are moving from pen and paper, then planning a launch in between courses/blocks is no doubt a good strategy and can ensure everything kicks off with minimum disruption.  If you’re not digitally confident look for 1-2-1 onboarding as part of the offer.  At Gymcatch, we pride ourselves on ensuring that all customers receive the onboarding support they need.

If you are migrating from a system that doesn’t provide these solutions, or that you’re over-paying for, then thinking about the following can be helpful:

  • When are you going to switch?  Again, in between courses/blocks can make a lot of sense, but equally the system may be able to import/add customers to existing courses/blocks, which may make for a gradual switchover while you’re still seeing customers regularly face-to-face to smooth the inevitable (if hopefully infrequent) questions that come up.
  • Can you import customer data and create their accounts for them?
  • Is it easy for customers to claim their accounts?

We hope you found the post useful.  If you would like to speak about the above and discuss your booking software needs and our £10 / $ 10 per month system, please book a free consultation here or if you’d like to give Gymcatch a go for free for 1 month, please get started here.

How to take payments online for fitness classes

By Fitness business management archives and news

Following the movement restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing regulations in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses are basing their operations online. Fitness service providers are some of the companies that have had to operate online. Online transactions are quite convenient, but only if you have the right tools. Failure to do so could result in the collapse of the business and a lot of losses. For instance, you need a reliable tool for taking payments. Here’s what you need to know to take payments online.

1. Choose a tool that is easy to use

The first factor you should consider when choosing an online payment system is the ease with which both you and your clients can use the tool. Several companies are offering online fitness classes. You want to make sure that your company stands out from the rest and offers different payment options. Clients will always pick a company that provides the most comfortable and secure payment methods. Make sure to make the task easy for both your clients and your employees.

Complicated tools and software may result in a lot of losses both because of poor administration and loss of clients. For instance, Gymcatch’s software gives you access to a simple Stripe integration means. This online payment system allows customers to book and pay for fitness classes easily via debit or credit card.

The amount of time it takes clients to make the payments should also be as minimal as possible since clients tend to get bored and leave lengthy card transactions without achieving their goals. Your goal for your business should be to attract new clients and to maintain the loyalty of those who are already working with you via recurring payments.

2. Simplified billing systems

The billing systems should also be simplified. As a business, you should be able to send statements, track balances, and receive payments within the same methods. Group transactions for families and other companies should also be tracked under the same account. You want a system that allows you to send bills to clients directly from the calendar. It should also allow you to send invoices and statements via email. In other words, you want to accept payments online. It also wouldn’t hurt if you could schedule, bill, and receive payments on a single platform.

3. Make sure clients get their receipts

Receipts are very important because they are a proof of payment. The fact that they are given in different kinds of stores, including supermarkets and retail stores, is proof enough of their importance. Therefore, you don’t want to be the only company that does not provide receipts immediately after payments. A software that gives automatic receipts would be the best option. You also want to make sure that the receipt is not dispensed until the money is received in your bank account. This will help you avoid unnecessary losses.

4. Flexibility

You also want to pick a method of receiving payment that is flexible. For instance, your clients should be able to make payments on any device like computer, iPhone, Android, or Tablet. This will help you attract all kinds of clients hence earn you more money. Also, make sure that the tool is easy to use on whichever device.

5. Global scale

You also want to pick a method of taking payments that can help you work with clients from different parts of the world. This is especially important for an online fitness business because you can accept clients from different parts of the world. A payment processor that can be used by clients from different parts of the world should come with algorithms that can process different currencies and payments made from different parts of the world. This feature will help your business stand out from others in the market.

6. Additional features

Tools for taking payments like Gymcatch software provide a wide variety of features. Using the stripe method, the money is sent directly to your bank account without any deductions like commission and other transaction fees.

Gymcatch also allows you to create blocks and courses of classes that clients can purchase and get booked on the relevant sessions. It also enables you to set time-limited drop-in bookings. This will help you maximise your revenue by automatically switching customers to another available session if they can’t make the class they’re booked into.

You also want software that will help you to create a flexible discount code. Examples of such codes include early bird codes, intro, exclusive and promotional offers. They can be applied to individual sessions, packages, courses, and customers as well. They allow you both control and flexibility with your pricing.

Picking the right software

The tool you use for taking payments is the backbone of your business. The simpler and more efficient the mobile payment tool is, the more successful your business will be, and the more profits you will make as well.

With the Gymcatch software, you can create passes, bundles, and free trial classes. Your clients can also pay for the services with customisable terms and conditions. Gymcatch also allows you to cap, place time limits, and allow flexibility and convenience for your clients. If you would like more information on how Gymcatch fitness management software works, feel free to get in contact with us or book a demo online.

How to price your fitness classes online

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness marketing and social archives and news

The global pandemic has changed the way most of us do everyday things. People have been introduced to Zoom meetings, podcasts and grocery delivery slots, and online exercise classes have become part of the norm. Virtual exercise has welcomed a different group of people into the fitness community – those seriously pushed for time, folks with caring obligations, the self-conscious and the gym curious.

For fitness providers, now is the perfect time for offering online tuition of all kinds. But if you’ve never held a virtual class before, or you’re adding to your repertoire, you’ll need to know how to price your service.

Here are 5 things to consider when you are working out what to charge for your fitness classes online.

Class size

Think about how many participants you want to teach. If you offer one-to-one classes then the costs will be passed onto a single client, but smaller group classes would lower the cost per person and potentially give you more income.

How does that work? Well, for a personal 1-2-1 class you could charge £40 as an example, but if you offer small group sessions for just 4 people at a time and ask £12 each, each client pays less and you earn and extra £8 a time.

Large classes with limitless participants can be offered at a lower cost per head, but think about how many you’ll need to make your target income? You could think that being cheap will encourage larger numbers, but is it really worth it to you? If you have 20 people logging in at £4 each, it’s the same to you as 16 logging in for £5 per head but you need 4 fewer clients each session which might be easier to achieve. So you need to consider if you’ll be able to fill the class at your selected price to get the profit margins you want.

Check your competitor prices

Sounds like a basic thing to do but checking out your competitors is key. Make sure you understand what others charge for the same service. Make a comprehensive list so you can make a good comparison, don’t just stop once you find one. There are no set rules when it comes to online classes – you will probably find a wide range of prices but you’ll notice a trend to give you a ball-park figure to work with. Take note of what others offer for their price such as the length of class, frequency, number of sessions a week and if there is a cap on the number of participants.

Block booking and packages

Consider whether you want to offer courses or block bookings at a discount. To get clients to pay upfront for a package of 5, 6 or 10 classes will help you with your finances but be aware that this comes with some complications.

Will your customers have to use their sessions for the same class each week or can they log in for your full programme of sessions? How much of a discount will you offer for booking multiple classes at a time and will this still give you the income you need? Clients will want to have the option to miss a session due to sickness or have a refund if they cancel.

Your cancellation policy must be clearly displayed and carefully thought out before you choose this option. There is no reason that discounts like this won’t work well, they simply require some planning.

Uniqueness and popularity

Be aware of the uniqueness of your classes. Straightforward HIIT sessions are more commonly found online so, without an unusual hook, you can’t charge much more than your competitors. But if you specialise in Kundalini Yoga, for example, then you are offering a niche product and can charge a premium rate.

Setting the price

The last thing to be aware of is that people will make an opinion of your classes based on the price. Offer your services too cheap and it will be considered an inferior product. Set your fees too high and clients will expect much more from you, and the extra cost will put off a large group of clients. There is a sweet spot – you just need to find it.

Luckily, you don’t need to think of everything by yourself. Gymcatch has made life easier for online fitness class providers with software that is simple to use. Take class bookings, manage waiting lists and collect payments with ease. If you’ve decided to use promo codes, passes and bundles to get things off the ground, then you can set all of these too – you have complete control. Get in touch for a free demo.

Social media marketing tips for fitness professionals

By Fitness marketing and social archives and news

Social media is an essential tool for fitness professionals looking to grow their fitness businesses. As things stand, social media users already have a massive appetite for all content related to fitness routines and general well-being.

As a business owner, you can’t, therefore, afford to ignore this particular channel when creating your marketing, advertising, and branding strategy. The following is a look at some of the social media marketing tips that you can use to enable you to market your fitness business.

1. Inspire, entertain, and inform

One of the leading reasons why individuals sign up to social media platforms is to get entertained. Other reasons include to be informed about global happenings and to interact with their friends. You have to realize that social media users don’t register to these platforms so that businesses can sell to them.

As such, businesses that are always posting content that has too much “salesy” language will often end-up being bypassed. The key to attracting a sizeable following on social media is to make certain that your content is based around the following three (3) main principles:


I. Inspire: Use social media to share motivation content sourced from other pages or use your pages to showcase the transformation undergone by your members.
II. Inform: Try to educate your audience using valuable details related to nutrition and fitness. You should aim to provide them with advice clearly and concisely so that it becomes easier for them to implement some of these routines at home.
III. Entertain: At times, social media users just want to enjoy themselves. You can provide some entertainment by infusing some of your personality into the content. Aim to distinguish your brand from the serious nature demonstrated by other brands in the fitness industry.

2. Focus on mobile

In your quest to learn how to get popular on social media, you will have no option but to focus on mobile. For many industries today, the main channel of communicating with their target clients is through the use of mobile phones.

According to a recent study commissioned by Smart Insights, tablets and mobile phones were the main devices used by people in the hours outside their normal working days. Business owners need to engage with their target clients during these particular hours. The study also established that a majority of users spent a large chunk of their time on different phone applications.

Your brand needs to be active on Instagram and Facebook. The two social networking platforms have been seen to be the most efficient when it comes to advertising a fitness business. In addition to this, you can also consult with your web developer to ensure that the brand’s website is properly optimized for mobile. You also need to look into how you can integrate a fitness business booking and management system. Integrating this type of system will help you save time by reducing the overall amount of time you spend on repetitive tasks. You also get to boost your revenue stream, enhance customer experience, and communicate much more easily with your audience.

3. Exercise patience and post frequently

A common reason why many fitness business owners don’t succeed in digital marketing is that they lose hope easily. Many business owners start to give up after only having tried marketing their business online for a couple of weeks. The reason for losing hope is because the brand owners expect to start seeing results as soon as they have launched an advertising campaign.

However, what you need to understand is that the process of growing your online presence isn’t a sprint, but is more similar to running a sprint race. What’s even worse is that some brands opt to purchase fake followers on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Anyone who has ever tried this will tell you that it doesn’t end well for the brand.

Buying fake followers means that in theory, you will have hundreds or even thousands of people viewing your posts; but not all will engage with the posts you make. This is because the audience isn’t organic. Your posts will, therefore, end up with very few clicks and shares. There’s also the possibility that you could get into trouble with the platform administrators
Instagram and Twitter have been actively cracking down on individuals, influencers, and fitness brands that have resorted to purchasing fake followers. So instead of choosing the ‘easier’ route, you should aim to at least post 3-5 times each week on all the platforms your brand has an active presence.

The following is a quick guide on what your brand should post online:
• Post nutrition advice which can be in the form of an image, blog post, or video
• Share an article or newsletter that is relevant to the fitness industry
• Post a workout tutorial that can again be in the form of an image, blog post, or video
• Post two pictures or videos of your weekly classes
• Share your timetable for the week

4. Don’t underestimate the power of an advertisement

Instagram and Facebook Ads are the most recommended marketing and advertising option for small fitness studios looking to advertise via the internet. The two methods are highly recommended because they are affordable compared to other forms of traditional and online advertising.
Also, a large percentage of the population today spends most of their free time on the two platforms. Look at it this way, Instagram has more than 800 million active monthly users, while Facebook has more than 2.2 billion active monthly users. A major benefit of using the two platforms is that you can create custom ads targeted to a specific audience.

If you would like to target different market demographics, you could also choose to run a wider selection of advertisements. Ensure that you have a separate creative copy as well as a copy that is customized to your specific demographics. Doing this provides you with a considerable advantage as opposed to relying on the one-size-fits-all criteria.

Whenever you are creating ads for use on Instagram and Facebook, make sure to keep the following in mind:
• Only use high-quality images and video: Digital marketers have predicted that video content will make up around 80% of all internet traffic by the year 2021. It is, therefore, important that you start looking into how you can implement video advertisements into your online digital marketing strategy.
• A/B Test all your social media Ads: A/B testing should continue until you have fully determined which combination of creative and copy provides the best results. It’s possible to do this using the official Facebook Ad Manager. The manager has also provided users with an easy-to-follow guide on how to go about the testing.
• Create a dedicated landing page: This is probably the most important aspect of running any social media campaign. You need to provide your audience with somewhere to go once they are done clicking through the fitness advert that you have provided. Your landing page should also have a clear CTA (Call to Action) inviting users to sign up for that particular promotion.
Come up with a promo for your advertisement campaign that provides value: A good example of this could be something like ‘Sign up by 4 pm on Tuesday to get 3 Free Introductory Classes.’
Remember that lead generation is an important factor in achieving success for any business in the fitness industry.

5. Good images and high-quality video is key

Whether you’re creating content for use in paid adverts or to help you generate organic content, you will need to make use of high-quality images and videos. Below is a look at what you have to do:

Images

Make sure that all your images are as visual as possible. Any text used with the image should be kept at a minimum. When it comes to paid adverts, platforms such as Facebook often implement a 20 percent rule. This is because it favors ad images that don’t have a lot of text. The aim here is to ensure that the users have a high-quality experience.

When the ad image has too much text on it, Facebook will typically show the image to as few people as possible. In the long run, this means that your ad will not be as efficient as you would have liked. The Facebook Text Overlay Tool will help you ensure that the text you have used in the ad doesn’t surpass the 20% rule.

Video

All your fitness videos have to be short and straight to the point. Research from Facebook suggests that when it comes to paid advertising, forty-seven percent of the true value of a Facebook Ad is seen in the first three seconds of a video. The same research goes ahead to note that 74% of its value is seen in the first ten seconds.

When it comes to the audio aspect, you are encouraged to assume that many users (85% to be precise) will opt to watch the video with no sound. What this means is that your fitness brand has to look for ways to help it pass its message along without necessarily having to use audio. You can think about using captions in the place of audio.

6. Build online fitness communities

When it comes to social media marketing, your fitness business should aim to create a fitness community. It’s possible to achieve this by implementing two simple, but highly efficient strategies:

I. Create Groups: Facebook comes in handy for fitness businesses looking to create closed groups for their gym or studio members. You can then proceed to create a page where members can interact with one another and get to build relationships that extend beyond the gym.
II. Using a Hashtag: Hashtags are quite effective when used on Instagram. You can come up with a hashtag that is specific to your fitness gym or studio and which will assist you to spread the word about your fitness routines and brand. Often, people share social media pictures of them attending a specific gym in a bid to show off to their followers and friends on these platforms.

Hashtags assist in increasing the visibility of your content. Any person interested in that particular topic will be able to view it with ease. The most popular types of hashtags used by fitness businesses are the brand-specific hashtags, trending hashtags, and content hashtags.

Once you’ve got all the client enquires coming through, you’ll want to make sure you have a good fitness management software. That’s where Gymcatch can help you, get in contact with us today.

Gymcatch partners with HFE to deliver booking and management tools to their instructors

By Fitness business management archives and news, Fitness industry archives and news
HFE

Gymcatch is proud to be partnering with HFE to provide their instructors industry-leading booking and management tools.

HFE is the one of the UK’s leading providers of personal trainer courses and fitness qualifications including exercise to music, yoga, Pilates and sports massage. For them, it’s less the qualification that maters, but more what their instructors become in the process. They challenge each and every student to ‘become more’, to go out into the industry and truly change lives. 

To make this to happen they run practical training at over 35 nationwide venues including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham.  This is backed up by unlimited support from a dedicated tutor and access to a bespoke online learning system which includes exclusive video lectures delivered by leading doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists and dietitians.

Speaking about an exciting new partnership with Gymcatch, HFE’s Marketing Manager Josh Douglas-Walton had this to say:

“We never have a shortage of companies and organisations wanting to work with us and because of this we have the luxury of being able to handpick our partnerships. One of the most important things for us is that any potential partner embodies of ethos of helping our students and graduates become more. What’s clear with Gymcatch is they can do just that. They have the ability to cater for our wide spectrum of graduates, from personal trainers to group exercise instructors, and with an incredibly impressive feature-set, it’s going to be a very exciting a few weeks, months and hopefully years working together.”

Ollie Bailey, Gymcatch CEO, commented:

“We’re delighted to be parting with HFE. It’s been clear in our discussions that they really care about their community and focus on offering a holistic approach to entering and thriving within the industry. We look forward to supporting this approach and their members in the future.”