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Ollie Bailey

Why your fitness business should make the switch to digital

By Fitness Business Management Archives & News, Fitness Industry Archives & News, Fitness Marketing & Social Archives & News
fitness business software

In this article, we examine how implementing a digital strategy and the right management software for your fitness business can save you time, improve cash flow and increase revenue.

Creating a digital presence

It’s natural to assume this means a website. A well-designed, mobile-optimized website with clear information, booking options and a strategy to boost SEO can be a great way to generate and convert leads.

Your website and your social channels can be great for your business. If they’re poorly designed or outdated, you can do yourself more harm than good.

If you have a website, this should be viewed as your base. You want to drive people to the website to book new sessions, stay up to date with your business news and read or share interesting articles. This means consistently investing time and/or money into your site to make sure that you are delivering content to your customer.

We’d recommend looking at your website as a progression from a base digital presence that includes a booking and payment system. You should be very aware that your site is not a one-off investment – you still have to drive traffic and keep it current in order for it to be a value add. A Facebook page with a link to a good, fitness-focused booking platform can be a good first step to a full website.

Automate booking processes

Our research shows scheduling issues cause 57% of fitness buyers to renege from their purchase, whether that’s for classes or memberships. Ensuring you’re doing everything you can to provide customers with convenience, flexibility and the information they need and want is key.

Specific features such as automating payment, waitlists, cancellation policies, calendar sync, and reminders can also help you to maximize revenue from existing customers. No-shows are costly, especially at peak times.

Offering improved convenience through app and web booking are also proven techniques for increasing consumer willingness to buy. At Gymcatch, 80%+ of bookings are seen on mobile and over 70% are made outside of normal working hours.

Use packages to increase spend and improve cash flow

Having one set class price or one straight membership price doesn’t increase your customer’s ‘willingness to pay’.

Customers are willing to commit more cash upfront if there’s an incentive to do so. Incentives can come in a price break for bulk buys or a pricing table highlighting the middle option as the best value.

Creating pricing tiers and using block purchasing discounts can incentivise increases and ‘trading-up’ in total spend with your business and drive improved cash-flow through upfront purchases.

Applying deeper discounts to underutilized sessions is also a good strategy and gives you a way of communicating additional value to your customer base.

Keeping track of payment and attendance for these sessions can be seriously time consuming, and many booking systems have nowhere near the functionality needed to help (let alone a consumer-friendly buying mechanism), so be sure to scope implementation thoroughly before introducing this feature.

Keep your customers coming back

This sounds obvious, but churn within the fitness industry is a serious problem. For premises-based businesses, the rate can run as high as 40% per annum. The easiest way to maximize revenue is to plug that leak.

Chances are you got into fitness because you know about fitness, so the game-changers are likely to be the things that you find less natural or especially difficult. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

Our research shows that only 27% of people who want communications from their fitness provider ever receive any at all. Having fitness business software that gives relevant, up-to-date schedules and information (either automated or otherwise) is important.

Creating a community around your fitness platform by enabling social interaction before and after workouts can also be a great way to create habit-forming behavior. 37% of fitness consumers we surveyed said they find themselves more engaged when there’s a social element to their fitness routine.

Rewarding your customers with unexpected gifts (like a free class, for example) and wider loyalty schemes are also proven techniques to increase retention.

Tap into the power of referrals

After location, referrals are the second most powerful influencer when it comes to fitness consumers buying decisions. Tapping into this is an incredibly effective way of driving new revenue.

This can be difficult though. It’s not easy to remember to ask for a referral, and on top of that it can feel awkward or unprofessional – especially if you’ve asked before.

It’s important, therefore, to look at ways to drive this process naturally. Initiatives such as ‘bring a friend for free’, or referral schemes in which successful referrals bring about prizes (free sessions, etc.) can help to align incentives.

It’s common to look at Facebook check-ins and newsfeed posts to drive this. We find ‘tag a friend who may be interested’ on a post tends to work better than staged check ins or post shares.

Using a fitness booking system that embeds the ability to share sessions across different platforms (email, SMS, own, Facebook, Twitter etc.) is a good strategy as it can create time and location specific context straight away. Check out the full range of features Gymcatch have on offer.

For more information on Gymcatch group fitness management software, and how it can help with your booking, admin and marketing. Get in contact to book a demo or start a free trial.

5 marketing tips for your fitness business

By Fitness Business Management Archives & News, Fitness Industry Archives & News, Fitness Marketing & Social Archives & News
two women training

In this blog post we look at creating a marketing strategy and the place of digital within the mix.

Spend time building a strategy

The best investment you can make in marketing is in the time you spend planning it.

Start off by being clear on what you want to achieve.  Are you focusing on new customers?  Increasing sales to existing customers?  Retaining existing customers?  If you are looking for new customers, who are you targeting?

We’ll deal with retention in a follow-up piece, so let’s focus on new customers.

Key questions here include: Who are your target customers?  Where are they based?  What are they interested in? How old are they and where do they spend their recreational time?  What are their health and fitness goals?  Are they seasonal or all-year round?

The answer to these questions will likely be right in front of you: your existing client base.

Find out what brought those people to you in the first place and not through the door of your competitor across town.  There is no better insight into what will work best, it is immediately available and doesn’t cost a penny.

This research will inform what content you create through the channels we discuss next. Depending on your services and target client, you may find that success stories, wider wellness education and other benefits work well.  Our own research, indicates that simple communication of location, timing of service combined with some level of peer advocacy score well with motivated buyers.

Don’t ignore traditional marketing

When thinking about channels in which to deliver your content, don’t forget traditional local marketing.  With your target customer profile and messaging established, remember that location is the primary driver of fitness purchaser’s choice of provider.

Coffee houses, school networks, business parks and other local small businesses can therefore be great places to leave material or partner to promote your services.  If people do other things locally, it’s likely that they’d do their fitness locally.  Focus on making it easy to discover you.  Let the locals know you’re there.

Marketing materials like cards and posters still work.

3 digital channels

When it comes to digital, for a small fitness business there can be many digital enablers and keeping them all active can be time consuming.  We recommend that you focus on 3 to both ensure you don’t spread yourself too thinly but also to ensure you are constantly testing and iterating.

We lean towards referral marketing tools, Google and Facebook as the areas to look at first.  Referral marketing is powerful, cost-effective and often overlooked, and with 80% of internet traffic driven by Google and Facebook they are simply too important to ignore.

Referral marketing
There are two sides to this. You and your customers.

Our own research and a big body of marketing work shows your existing customers are your very best source for new leads, so be sure to focus on them.

Clearly you can email or text requests and materials they could share.  This can be hard work and, at times, slightly awkward to ask for direct, so thinking about tools you can use (codes, introductory offers, referral schemes) and regularly refer back to in order to build awareness is a good idea.  Asking for shares/tagging friends in Facebook posts can work wonders and cost you nothing.

Other than our own tools (obviously!), we like InviteReferrals and Ambassador as digital options to assist with this.

Google ad spend can be expensive and really means you need a website.  If looking at this, the first thing to do is to make sure your website has what it needs to convert.  There is no point driving traffic to a site that doesn’t convert clicks into contact.

Boost your Google results organically – better than having to pay for ads, is being found organically from search.  The key to this is that it is a medium to long-term commitment.  So many businesses start with good intentions but, after a couple of months of not seeing results, give up.

Patience is key here: there is no magic bullet.  This is a long-term commitment.  Creating valuable content through blogs, linking via social and ensuring clients use your website regularly can naturally help you to move up the search rankings. Given location is the number one driver of service purchasing, focus on ensuring you rank well for fitness in your area.

When your website was built (and on your admin console if you have a WordPress site) there should also have been initial SEO keywords used and, if you employ an agency, tweaked regularly.  It’s worth checking that this has been done and finding out what they are and how they are being supplemented with your social media and blog posts. Free SEE plug ins, such as Yoast, can really help you with this too.

Once you’ve created a Facebook Page, to do Facebook ads it used to be that you needed to get into Facebook Power Editor (requires Chrome browser).

You’ll now see, however, that boosting posts or ads from your business page is possible.  Setting up campaigns, audiences and ad sets in Power Editor is very easy and intuitive.  The audience features is extremely powerful, with a ready ability to define a hyper-local audience with custom interests.

Ensure you’re messaging on the ads is clear and that anyone clicking is really likely to want your service – you most likely don’t want to be paying for clicks that aren’t motivated buyers. You can test whether this is going to work for you with just a few £100 pounds of testing.

If you don’t have access to a graphic designer to make the related images, online marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork can be a good source of cost-effective resource but ensure you spend some time thinking about what you want the add to convey and research ads that work well, and test ideas with existing clients, so that you can provide a detailed brief. Sketch is a great, easy to use graphic design tool which you only need to pay for once if you don’t want the on-going updates.

We’d recommend:

  • Starting small with a defined local geography and low daily budget
  • Testing 3 or 4 different ad variations
  • Then doubling down on what works

Make buying easy

It’s one thing generating leads, but how are you converting them to paid customers?  If you have the scale, can afford it, and have the digital know-how, using tools such as Infusionsoft, Pipedrive or Salesforce to create detailed sales funnels is a great way to nurture and convert leads.

The reality is, most people don’t, nor want the cost.  Making it easy for customers to learn more and buy is, however, something that is in your control.

If you have a website or can create landing pages, ensure that you’re marketing, whether on or off line, is directing people to a place where there’s a logic to the information and a clear call to action – whether that be to fill in a contact form or make a booking.

Don’t forget about the final stage too – giving the customer the convenience they experience when booking a taxi, restaurant or hotel is important in converting a sale, particularly a new one.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you need an expensive website – simplicity and ease of use trumps form and there are now cost effective tools available to take bookings online and on mobile.

Track your results

Whatever marketing activity you run, it’s a good idea to keep a record of how many leads you generate, from where they came and how many convert to paying customers.  Building a timeline of activities and checking back on your website analytics (if set-up) or direct enquiries via email can give you great insight into what works and what doesn’t.

In terms of more complex digital tracking, setting up events and goals in Google Analytics as well as custom links in emails that can be tracked to linked pages is a good idea.  If you have the know-how, Google Tag Manager is a great tool to use, enabling you to add Facebook and other pixels without having to constantly update your website.

Tag Manager can enable your Facebook ads to be reported in your Google Analytics page, which helps in keeping things in one place (!), but Facebook Power Editor will also give you good insight into how any Facebook campaigns are performing.

Marketing needs patience, attention to detail and data.  There is no magic bullet: your strategy and tactics will evolve over time as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

The best marketing is often simple and focused but it’s easy to jump into the tactics before thinking through the why.  Is it worth reviewing your strategy?

For more information on Gymcatch fitness management software and how it can help your yoga, pilates, dance business. Get in contact to book a demo or start a free trial.

How to differentiate yourself as a personal trainer

By Fitness Business Management Archives & News, Fitness Industry Archives & News

Hypothesis: Most personal trainers that are open for business can’t actually be reached.

The test

In researching this article, our team decided to conduct a small test. We called 50 personal trainers we’d found on Google between 9-5pm on a Tuesday to try and make a booking. If we got through to them, we came clean around why we were phoning and congratulated them on having excellent customer service. If they didn’t answer, they went straight into our data-set.

We’re not a team of data scientists, and as such we’re well aware that a test pool of 50 isn’t always statistically significant. That said, our small test still managed to show some startling results.

Straight to voicemail

How many PTs do you think we were able to get hold of right away? Here’s your answer: 9 out of 50. That’s less than 1 in 5. 80% of PTs could not be reached. 12 had a web form to book one-to-one sessions. 100% had email addresses or contact forms on their websites. We could have chosen to follow-up if we wanted to.

Why is this important?

As a potential new customer looking to start a client relationship in my area, I can easily find PTs on Google, but I can’t actually speak to anyone or purchase anything when I need or am ready to. So in theory, over 50% of the PTs in our mystery shopper exercise technically lost a client.

But…you’d phone back, right?

Consider the customer’s initial decision to establish a trainer-client relationship. A potential customer thinks long and hard about whether personal training is right for them, and then they make the decision based on an intangible reason – like a moment in time or a sudden burst of motivation. They don’t want to send an email, they want to lock in their free test session now.

Customers searching for a service via Google are not choosing you based on personal referrals. They’re making decisions based on who looks the most credible.

Of course, some potential clients will try again, leave a message and be happy to drag out the purchase process with a series of email or texts. But in today’s world of instant gratification where the click of a button can get you a taxi, order your takeaway, or purchase your clothing, your customers might expect to be able to book a training session in the same amount of time.

Why should we make them wait to get access to our premium services?

We’re not advocating that every PT has a receptionist answering telephone calls and fielding customer questions, but there should be a level of self service accessibility that allows your future customers to get in touch directly.

Point made. So, how can Gymcatch help?

Gymcatch you lets you advertise your free appointment windows and allows prospective customers to book in sessions via the web, iOS or Android.

All appointments and reminders sync to their personal calendars and cancellation policies ensure no-shows won’t hurt your wallet.

Our custom packages for classes and appointments also allow you to offer bespoke free trials and bundled sessions, automating the admin tends to be a drain on your time.

In our experience, it’s amazing to see how a bit of innovation goes a long way in helping customers. It’s free to register and take drop-in payments, and we’re the best value management software on the market. Worth a try?

For more information on Gymcatch personal training management system, and how it can help with your booking, admin and marketing. Get in contact to book a demo or start a free trial.

software for personal trainers

What’s driving fitness consumers’ decisions to buy your services?

By Fitness Business Management Archives & News, Fitness Industry Archives & News, Fitness Marketing & Social Archives & News

In this post, we’ll discuss the health and fitness consumer, trends in their buying habits and how the industry can meet them head-on. We surveyed over 400 buyers and prospects and here’s what they told us…

1. Location, location, location

With increasing health and fitness options and improving delivery, consumers are increasingly treating fitness as a commodity. Of course, this is not to say you can’t differentiate in delivery and build strong relationships, but understanding how most buyers initially choose their fitness provider is important to maximizing lead generation.

Our industry research revealed that location was the number one driver for choosing a fitness provider. Conducting a high level analysis of your local community, researching what times to provide sessions for customers, and making your details and schedule easily accessible will be key to your success.

2. Referrals

The second biggest driver in choosing a fitness service is peer recommendation. Ensuring you are enabling referrals (and making them easy to do) is important, both through incentives such as free sessions and with a booking system that readily allows for information to be shared.

3. Convenience

Health and fitness consumers now spend more time on mobile than desktop and are increasingly used to making bookings for services such as taxis, hotels, restaurants and takeaway through via mobile apps. This trend has been growing for some time, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

Providing the level of convenience consumers experience elsewhere in their lives is important. 27% of our survey participants said they struggle to find important information from their fitness provider, even when looking for it.

4. Social

Our analysis revealed a clear trend towards customers wanting to integrate a social aspect into their fitness regime. In today’s busy yet increasingly health-conscious environment, fitness consumers would like to use their workout as a means to connect with friends, meet new people and maybe even find that special someone:

– 37% are more engaged when they’re able to workout together with friends

– Over 10% are hoping to meet that special person when they workout

– 13% would like to work out but don’t because they don’t want to go alone

Offering and encouraging a way for customers to bring a friend along for a workout, and allowing them to easily refer sessions to friends is therefore important. Delivering non-fitness events for your community is also a good idea.

5. Rewards

Loyalty programs in retail, hospitality and your weekly grocery shop have proved that they can drive increased purchasing frequency and customer retention.

The downside is that creating and managing schemes can be both expensive and time-consuming. Thinking laterally around how you can provide value through discounted packages is one approach. In those instances, try to clearly communicate the saving aspect against the pay-as-you-go alternative. While the up-front payments can be helpful to your cash flow, you don’t want to create a future expectation for deep discounting.

Occasionally, gifting a free session to a loyal or infrequent customer can also have profound effects, with the unexpected nature of the gift generating a deeper psychological impact and overall better relationship between you and your customer.

The bottom line

Location may or may not be in your power to change but what is for certain is that you have the power to influence criteria 2-5. Gymcatch is here to help.

For more information on Gymcatch fitness management software and how it can help your yoga, pilates, dance business. Get in contact to book a demo or start a free trial.

client management software for personal trainers