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Streamline your personal training bookings with Gymcatch 

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

Streamline your personal training bookings with our intuitive class booking and management software. 

Whether you offer 1:1, 2:1 or small group personal training sessions, Gymcatch ensures a hassle-free experience so that you can say goodbye to the complexities of manual systems and enjoy a simple and streamlined approach to managing schedules, bookings, payments and client interactions, enabling you to do more of what you love!

Over and above everything you’d expect to manage booking and payments, our PT focused features include:

Control visibility of your sessions 

Visibility management on Gymcatch is a great feature for personal trainers, enabling you to set your ‘open sessions’ as public and those for regular clients as private, ensuring you can both take new bookings and ensure clients’ regular spots are protected.  

You also have an automated waitlist feature that is included within our base plan to ensure that, no matter the size of your personal training sessions, you’re giving yourself the best chance to fill the space. 

Run business your way 

Personal trainers need the best of both worlds; a booking system that takes care of automation and recurring clients, whilst also the flexibility to give existing clients the option to book more or new slots. 

We give clients and Admins full control over packages and credit booking, ensuring you can let those that want to book and pay by themselves the freedom to do so, whilst also managing, or part-managing clients that don’t want that responsibility or small admin.

Easily onboard and upsell to customers 

Running a goal orientated course of personal training sessions is a great way to get new starters onboard or even upsell to existing customers. On Gymcatch you can easily create a course for a set number of sessions over a specified period of time and when either you or your customers book onto this course, they’ll automatically be booked onto all of the sessions within it. Saving both yourself and your customers time!

Quickly and tidily schedule your availability 

As a busy personal trainer you’re going to have a lot of identical sessions within your schedule showing your availability, whether that’s to book in with yourself or other trainers at your gym. Not only can you easily create a recurring series of sessions for these availability slots, but you can even use our consolidated sessions feature to group identical sessions each day for a tidier view on your schedule.

 

Experience the ease and efficiency of our personal training booking software, where managing your sessions becomes as fun as teaching them! Simplify your workflow, enhance your customer’s experiences and streamline your processes so that your business can create a community where accessing exercise is easy and enjoyable.

If you’re wanting to streamline your personal training business, then feel free to book a call with one of the team here.

Elevate your business as a yoga teacher

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

Wellness and self-care are an ever increasing part of people’s personal goals and priorities, driving an ever increasing societal interest in yoga.

We understand how challenging it can be to stand out from the crowd as a yoga teacher, so we’re here to help you. In this article we will discuss how to elevate your practices, find balance and embrace the flow of both business and life.

Understand your customer’s schedule and commitment

Defining your ideal customer is so important to ensure that what you’re offering is exactly what your customers have been looking for. Taking the time to ask your customers what they want will help you to determine your schedule, class structure, whether you want to offer 1-2-1 or larger group classes and pricing. This practice of defining your ideal customer will also allow you to discover the average ability level of your customers and plan a class around this with appropriate modifications and adding in your own unique style to stand out from the crowd!

Design your business model accordingly

Once you’ve defined your ideal customer, you can then design your business model accordingly. Knowing whether you should offer a flexible PAYG option, courses that are in line with term time to help with attendance or even memberships for a longer term commitment and automated billing, will help you to not only offer payment options that best suit your customers but also streamline your business. 

Free up time for yourself

As you get busier and busier as a business owner, time becomes an ever increasing commodity. No matter how busy you are, it is important to free up time for yourself to allow space for self-reflection, continued learning and committing to your own self-practice. Providing yourself with this free time is so valuable when it comes to developing and elevating your business. 

Automate your business

Having a booking system that allows you to automate administrative tasks will free up more time to focus on your business model, continued learning and most importantly finding balance as a business owner. 

Effortlessly and cost effectively manage your schedule, bookings, payments and customers with Gymcatch’s booking system which is designed to make life feel easier for you and your clients. Whether you’re offering 1:1 or group practices, pay-as-you-go or block bookings, Gymcatch is here to support you and your business whatever your business model to help you to go with the flow of business and life. 

Regularly review your business

It is important that you take a step back from being in the business to allow you to regularly review your ideal customer, business model and tools that you use to see where they can be improved. Reviewing your business every quarter will allow you to ensure that what you’re offering is exactly what your customers are looking for and that this is as streamlined as it can be, to help you stand out from the crowd.

Gymcatch’s yoga booking software can help you to elevate your business, allowing you to reach more students, offer personalised experiences, and strengthen your yoga community. Your dedication to guiding others toward wellness deserves a partner that shares your passion and supports your growth.

How to make your life easier as a fitness professional

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

Here at Gymcatch we understand that owning your own fitness business can be stressful, adding that with the usual day-to-day life stresses that are outside of our control, can make you feel like you’re just about treading water. That’s why we’re all about making life, especially business, as easy as possible.

In this blog, we discuss how you can automate your business with Gymcatch this year to increase revenue, reduce stress and make life feel that little bit easier.

Payment on booking

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly sending out invoices and chasing payments? Receiving payment on booking avoids the need to keep logging into your accounting software, manually sending out invoices and having that awkward conversation when a customer is late paying. 

Create a Stripe account, connect it to your Gymcatch account and start receiving payment on booking – It’s that easy to start securing revenue, reducing no shows since customers have paid in advance and reducing admin time!

Collect customer information on first booking 

We’ve all been there, manually sending out waivers or questionnaires, waiting for customers to complete them and then having piles of paperwork to store. With Gymcatch, you can enable our participation information bolt-on feature so that customers are asked to complete all the necessary forms before they are able to book and pay for their first class with you and once completed, they are stored on their customer record on your Gymcatch account.

No more chasing customers to complete their forms and no more drowning in paperwork – Win win!

Automated waitlists 

It’s always important to ensure that your classes are fully booked, especially when you’re paying an hourly fee to rent a space to host your class in. Our automated waitlists feature is not only included within our base plan, but also allows you to keep your sessions fully booked without the need to lift a finger.

If a customer cancels their space on a fully booked session, those customers who are on the waitlist will automatically be notified via email that a space has become available and then it’s first come first serve as to who books and pays for this space first.

Cancellation policy & automated refund credits 

We’ve all encountered scenarios like this: Rise at 5 AM, hastily dress, and arrive just in time for a 6 AM client session. As you check your emails a few minutes ahead, you discover an email from your 6 AM client, announcing their cancellation at 5:40 AM and then asking for a refund or to reschedule their session. A frustrating start to the day, right?

This is why it is so important to safeguard yourself and your business through a well-defined cancellation policy that your clients understand and have agreed to so that you can avoid situations like this. 

Automating refund credits is also a great way to allow clients to reschedule their sessions if cancelled in line with your cancellation policy and keep the money in the business without you ever having to get involved. Reducing these awkward conversations, reducing admin and reducing stress.

Gymcatch in your pocket

You can automate your business as much as you want to, but there’s always going to be times that you need to have access to your booking software whilst in a coffee shop catching up with a friend. 

You’ve got access to special ‘on-the-go’ features within the Gymcatch iOS and Android apps. You can check the roster, mark customers as paid and attended and stay in touch with attendees all from your phone, allowing you to manage your business no matter where you are. 

 

If you’re ready for business, and life, to feel that little bit easier, then register your Gymcatch business account today!

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5 ways to share the love on Gymcatch this February

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

February, the official month of love, is a great time to share the love with your customers and other business owners on Gymcatch. Whether you’re rewarding your long standing customers for their commitment, creating a seasonal offer or helping out your friend who has just started their fitness business, we’re here to show you how you can spread the love like confetti!

In this blog, we share 5 ways that you can give back to your customers and friends this February and beyond. 

Refer a friend

A refer a friend scheme is a great way to not only increase revenue and reward existing customers, but to help with increasing exercise participation by getting friends to work out together. 

You can use our discount codes bolt-on feature to create a discount code that your existing customer can pass onto their friend. They would use this code at checkout and upon attending the session, you can then thank your existing customer by gifting them with either a bundle, pass or another discount code that they can use on their next booking with you. 

Priority access 

Nothing will make a customer feel more special than giving them priority access to your sessions. Our priority access feature is a great way to reward long standing customers by allowing them to secure their space on your most popular of classes and best thing yet, this priority access feature is included within our base plan so there’s no excuse not to make your customers feel special. 

Free trials 

Offering a free trial period is a great way to convert possible new customers since you’re reducing those barriers and making it as easy as possible for them to book their first class with you and it shows that you care about them, allowing them to try a class for free and making sure that you two are a good match before committing. 

Every business will configure a free period differently, whether that is offering one or multiple classes. Either way, with Gymcatch, you can create a free pass, assign specific sessions to the pass and set a time limit for it to be used within. You’ll always have complete visibility of who’s redeemed the pass as well, this means that you can give this new customer specific focus and attention when they attend their first class with you, not only making them feel special but also giving you the best chance of converting them into a paying customer. 

Discount codes

Our discount codes bolt-on feature is a quick and easy way to create seasonal offers and even give one-off rewards to customers for their commitment or for reaching specific landmarks within their wellness journey.

You can easily create a discount code on Gymcatch and personalise it to suit your needs, whether that is setting a specific validity period for the code, only allowing the code to be used on specific sessions, limiting the use to specific customers or for a total number of redemptions and even capping the code at one redemption per customer. 

Business referral scheme 

February isn’t just a time of year to reward your customers, you can also share the love with any friends who are just starting their fitness business. 

Our referral scheme allows you to refer a new business to Gymcatch where they will benefit from an additional free month on top of our introductory free trial. As a thank you we will also credit you with two months when they make their first subscription payment. 

All you need to do is simply share your referral URL or unique code and when a new business registers, either via the link or inputting the code at registration, we take care of the rest.

 

If you’re ready to give back to your customers and friends this February and beyond, then get in touch with us so that you can get started with Gymcatch today and we can help you share the love.

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. Visit gymcatch.com/pricing for pricing information.

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. Visit gymcatch.com/pricing for pricing information.

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. Visit gymcatch.com/pricing for pricing information.

For more information on Gymcatch personal training booking software and how it can help your business get in touch to book a demo or start a free trial.

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 online booking software and your fitness bootcamp booking software needs, 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.

ASFA® and Gymcatch announce strategic partnership

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

The American Sports and Fitness Association® is pleased to announce its new partnership with Gymcatch. By providing great value gym booking software and customer management software for fitness and wellness businesses, ASFA® recognizes Gymcatch’s commitment to making participation easier for all.

As a leading Personal Trainer & Fitness Certification provider, ASFA® recognizes and appreciates the need for companies like Gymcatch who create easy-to-use, affordable tools that help our customers manage their businesses, enabling them to do more of what they do best: bring exercise to their community.  We are delighted to offer our community 20% off their first 12 months on the service with code ASFA20. You can find out more about the service and register here.

Additionally, we are excited to proudly display Gymcatch’s logo on ASFA’s Partner Page with other leaders in the industry such as MyCPR NOW™ – the leading online CPR and First Aid Certification provider, Human Kinetics – the leader in fitness texts and manuals provider, Berxi – a Berkshire Hathaway company and more than 100 gym chains and fitness institutions.

For more information on Gymcatch fitness and wellness booking software and how it can help your business get in touch to book a demo or start a free month.

 

Image for What's important in your cancellation policy?

What’s important in your cancellation policy?

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

If you have been receiving too many ‘I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it today at the very last minute, is time to set a cancellation policy and start protecting your income. Make this task item number one on your to-do list and keep on reading.

“There’s nothing worse than a cancellation” is a phrase we hear quite often at Gymcatch. Although it’s not quite true. Worse than cancellations are last-minute cancellations, and worse still, a no-show.

We’ve all been in that situation where you have prepared for a training session or class and a client cancels at the very last minute. Handling late cancellations and no-shows can be very difficult for your business, eat away precious income and waste the opportunity to get a new face or different client into the session.

Cancellations and no-shows are out of your control but they are bad for business and bad for morale.   What you can do is two things:

1) encourage responsible behaviour of your client base so to minimise cancellations, maximise the notice they give you when they cancel and eradicate no-shows in all  but extreme cases; and

2) mitigate the financial risk of cancellations.

There is a stack of evidence and proven processes which tells us that you can stop cancellations blighting your business. You don’t need to accept a high drop out rate and you shouldn’t.

Take payment at the point of booking

Cancellation rates at businesses where the client pays at the point of booking are 40% lower than at businesses which operate a pay-on-the-door model.

It’s just a fact of human psychology that once a client has paid for something they are far less likely to not show up or cancel it. Some businesses don’t like taking online payments either for reasons of not wanting to pay the card fees or because of additional admin. All the data points to that being a false economy. What you lose in card fees you’ll make back several-fold in reduced and non-refunded, cancellations.

This helps both sides of the cancellation risk: taking payment in advance reduces the number of cancellations and having the client’s money puts you in control of whether your policies allow a refund in the circumstances.

Do I need to let clients cancel at all?

A cancellation is always better than a no-show (because you’ve got a chance of filling the space). Not giving a client the means of cancelling doesn’t stop them from cancelling, it just means they don’t turn up and you won’t know about it in advance.

This is where having a booking software that automates tasks for you, such as booking confirmation messages and reminders, can be very useful and help reduce your no-shows as well as save you time. If you take a proactive approach, you will help minimize no-shows.


Automation of waitlists and refunds

While you can reduce the number of no-shows and cancellations they can’t be eradicated. But encouraging clients to act responsibly and follow a clear process if they need to cancel maximises the chance of you not being out of pocket.

Making it simple to cancel (and receive a refund if it is due) incentivises clients to do this and give you maximum notice.

And for clients who want to take a cancelled space, an instant waitlist which converts to bookings and that is easy to use saves you the bother of phoning round to try and fill a spot.

Do I need a cancellation policy?

Yes, you do. Every business should have a cancellation policy that sets the boundaries of its services. You don’t need to be a lawyer or to copy someone else’s policy. It just needs to very simply and in plain language set the rules that clients need to know when they book.

With this clear, no-surprises, approach a cancellation policy’s role goes beyond protecting your income and also protects your relationship with your client as it stipulates how you work and what your working boundaries are. Most client-provider relationships that break down, do so because of a lack of communication.

Don’t be afraid of making the terms onerous. Strict cancellation policies will encourage good clients to book rather than put them off because it places real value on the place – it demonstrates scarcity and that the client is buying something in demand.

Setting the tone at the very start, for example at sign-up stage will help bring more commitment from the client too. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use your discretion when a client comes to you with some particularly difficult circumstances – you’ve always got that option.

What should I include in a cancellation policy?

  1. Contact information
    How to contact you or your gym or studio. If your client needs to contact you to cancel a session make sure you tell them the process for that. Do you want them to contact you directly, if so how. Or do they need to cancel their booking on your booking system?
  2. Cancellation without penalty?
    Are you going to allow clients to cancel and provide them with a refund, provided they give you sufficient notice?
    Not all businesses do this. Some say that once you’ve booked there are no refunds. Others will always provide a refund no matter when the cancellation comes in. Most businesses fall somewhere in the middle.The whole point of this is to maximise your chance of selling the space that the client is cancelling. If you’re a business with packed waitlists and are regularly over-subscribed and your services are easy to participate in at short notice you can afford to allow cancellations until relatively late. E.g. 48 or 24 hours before the start time.If your session is harder to fill, you don’t have a regular waitlist, or the class is difficult to participate in at short notice then you will probably want the place on sale for longer. E.g. 1 week.We find that cancellation policies which allow refunds up until a few hours before the class start time are counter-productive and see low levels of client uptake on the newly available and more frequent cancellations.at least 24 or 48 hours before. Some will even charge a penalty fee if the 24- or 48-hour timeframe has been breached. If your client has adhered to the timeframe, however, you can give them the option to book into the next session.
  3. Cash refunds or credit
    It’s important to state in your cancellation policy whether you will issue a monetary refund, allow to reschedule or even include a penalty fee.  Offering a refund in the form of a credit to book another session will usually be the better option.  It cheats the revenue in the business, is lighter on admin and acts as a better tool for retention.
  4. Agreement
    When a client makes a booking you’re entering a contract with them so you need to know that you’ve got their agreement. Make sure they read and understood both your cancellation and refund policies. Having your clients tick or sign in the agreement will save any misunderstandings as they’re in clear knowledge of how you operate.

Gymcatch helps you minimise the number of cancellations. Our online booking software and management system lets you set your cancellation policy to suit your business needs. You can choose to automatically credit customers with a class package that lets them book a replacement class if they give you enough notice. And although cancellations are inevitable and when this happens, our waitlist feature set allows you to fill up the cancelled space fast.