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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.

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 booking and customer management software for fitness and wellness businesses from $10 per month, 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.

 

Image for Referrals blog post

How to create a referral programme

By Dance, Fitness marketing and social archives and news, Gym and studios, HIIT and group, Pilates, Yoga

A referral programme is a very cost-effective and low risk way to reward your loyal customers for recommending new ones. It’s a very powerful marketing tactic to get existing customers to talk about you and help you acquire new ones.

According to a Nielsen report 83% of people trust their friends’ opinions. Although an old cliché, people buy from people, and that’s because there is immediate confidence and credibility to their testimonial. Led by trust, these future customers have the potential to quickly convert.

In summary, these are the key benefits to a referral programme:

  • Turns customers into loyal ones
  • Helps you build on your testimonials
  • Expands your reach and awareness
  • Converts leads into customers faster

If you are now ready to set up your referral programme and are looking for ideas, this blog is for you, and to make it easy we’ve broken it down into a 4 step guide with inspirational ideas you may want to consider.

  1. Set the goal you want to achieve with your referral programme
    Before you get started, decide on what you want to achieve with your programme. You want this to be clear and measurable. Acquiring new customers may not be your goal or what you want by the end of it. Some businesses will be looking at increasing sales or loyalty to get more advocates and improve on retention. Once you have decided on your goal, think about how you will be measuring progress and what are your referral sources.
  2. Decide on your incentive or reward
    The most successful way to get this right is to encourage insight from your customers to determine what incentive or reward will motivate them. Non-cash incentives such as in-store credits or priority access boost customer retention and sales. You don’t want to spend endless hours tracking and calculating incentives manually. Instead automate as much of this work as possible to save yourself valuable time. Choosing a conversion event, for example, the reward is applicable once the customer has booked a class or session with you and made full payment. This will eliminate any doubts and set the boundaries for when claiming a reward.
  3. Decide on your advocates
    The most critical part of the programme is choosing customers that are as passionate as you are about what you do and know your brand. Share your mission with them and draw some parameters. Work out the tags or hashtags and key messages you want them sharing.

    Consider the following:
    Who do you want to target?
    What do you need them to do?
    How can they achieve this?

  4. Promote your referral programme
    Tell your customers about your programme, chances are they aren’t aware and/or need reminding. Your most loyal customers should be your first place to get started. These are people that love your classes or sessions and have probably already advocated your business more than once before. However, make it easy for your customers to share your services and get rewarded. Social media has become a popular channel to share information and get the word out, but it has to be a simple process for both the referrer and referee, or they will lose interest.

A referral programme creates a win-win situation for all. Your existing clients get rewarded, feel valued, and you get quality leads for new customers. The more customers you get to tell their friends about your classes or appointments the more opportunity for new business you create.

Need inspiration?
Take a look at what some brands are doing!

Uber
Uber’s referral programme has 2 parts. Uber gives drivers and riders a unique referral code to share with friends interested in creating a driver or rider account. When a referral is successful a payment reward is made.
In parallel, they run a user referral programme too that works very similarly. When a user shares their code with a friend and that friend signs up they both get their next trip for free.

Dropbox
Dropbox allows you to earn extra free storage space when you invite friends to try it out. Basic accounts get 500 MB per referral and can earn up to 16GB. Plus accounts get 1 GB and earn up to 32 GB per referral.

How do referrals work on Gymcatch?
There are many ways to use Gymcatch’s features to run a successful referral programme and reward your customers. Our Discount Codes bolt-on, for example, allows customers to invite their friends and family at a fixed amount or percentage off. This is great when wanting to encourage loyalty and improve retention.

You can also use bundles and make them available for purchase for a limited time and remove it from sale at the end of the offer period. These are included as part of the base plan and although mean a little more planning are very easy to set up.

Our own referral programme means customers get rewarded with 2 free months and receive a cash reward when referring a new business. The referred business gets an extra free month directly into their account when registering with us.

For more information on Gymcatch and how it can help your yogapilatesdance or personal training business. Get in contact to book a demo or start a free month.

Why is the right insurance policy essential?

By Uncategorised

Fitness Professionals Ltd (FitPro) gives us the lowdown on choosing insurance that’s right for you.

You have a brilliant booking system, cool client management software and the tools to save you time, increase your revenue and grow your community through Gymcatch. You’re on to a winner. But what happens if the old phrase ‘break a leg’ comes to fruition in one of your classes?

Insurance is an essential string to your bow as a fitness industry professional. It gives you peace of mind. It’s the reassurance that, if the worst were to happen, it is there to assist you and enable you to continue to deliver your classes and sessions.

It’s vitally important to select a highly reliable insurance policy that provides the depth of cover needed to enable you to deliver a range of activities and adapt to the changing demands of the fitness industry. You need to check that the insurance includes cover for the relevant fitness-related activities you’re undertaking, includes worldwide cover if you’re teaching overseas, and is through a reputable insurer.

At FitPro, we’ve been offering instructor public liability insurance protection for over 30 years. We’re continually reviewing our products to ensure they are in line with the needs of fitness industry professionals and the burgeoning industry trends.

Whether you are live-streaming from home, training clients via Zoom, delivering pre-programmed video content, working in gyms, studios and community facilities, working outdoors in parks, gardens and beaches, or mixing it up depending on the weather, the FitPro insurance scheme has you covered. We share tips, advice and information via our social media channels and blogs on an ongoing basis to keep our members up to date with new developments.

The FitPro Instructor Public and Teacher Liability insurance is designed for qualified fitness industry professionals who hold a supporting qualification in their area of instruction, and also for students who are working towards gaining an instructor qualification.

Teaching online

Since 2020, online training has been really big business and, at FitPro, we’re ready to support you with comprehensive insurance.

To be covered for online training, you must:

  • work within your area of knowledge and expertise, supported by a nationally accredited instructor qualification
  • pre-screen participants before each session
  • include a disclaimer
  • follow the appropriate health and safety guidelines
  • ensure that any children/minors participating are supervised throughout the online fitness session by an adult.

You can find out more about FitPro’s cover for online training here.

Suppose the worst happens?

Our customers know that, as long as they are insured with us, we are there to support them. FitPro is committed to providing the most comprehensive cover there is out there. Underwritten by Aviva, the FitPro insurance scheme gives you piece of mind – knowing that one of the UK’s largest insurers stands behind us.

Are you looking for insurance to work in the fitness industry?

See FitPro’s range of insurance schemes available here.

Alternatively, to find out more about FitPro’s insurance policies, speak to a member of our insurance team on 020 8586 8635 or via info@fitpro.com

 

 

 

Thinking of scaling up your fitness business online?

By Fitness industry archives and news

Launching an online fitness business is a super effective way to scale up your operation quickly and reach out to more clients. However, this can be a daunting prospect for most as they can feel a little overwhelmed trying to catch up with this ever more popular online revenue stream.

Many fitness professionals are still attached to costly group-ex format licence fees that do not allow them to invest in their own online tech stack. Others may lack the know-how or confidence to run online fitness classes as an effective business proposition. And many don’t have the flexibility to choose how or where they teach as their current programme’s limitations.

Technology today means you can download an app to help you structure your classes and deliver a killer workout from anywhere in the world, whether that is live, virtually or on-demand.

“Creating premium digital content takes time and can be very expensive. We are on mission at SH1FT to make digital first solutions for fitness instructors looking to launch or expand their business online. SH1FT instructors are fully supported to create their digital presence and teach where, when and how they want,” says Will Brereton, Founder of SH1FT.

 

How to use tech to improve your fitness services

With the environment now stabilizing, fitness instructors are breathing a welcomed sigh of relief as they have had to adapt to so many changes fast in the past few years. There is a number, however, perhaps the most engaged online or who have been running that online experience for longer, who are now looking at how they can use tech to access data to improve their services and take their business to the next level. 

In his latest podcast, Will says “your customers expect to be able to use your products your services in a variety of ways, both offline and digital. So we know that digital fitness is here to stay, and that it will form part of what your consumers are looking for.”

However, if you’re one of the many instructors that’s found maintaining momentum with your digital teaching difficult, you are in good company.

SH1FT is working with Gymcatch to provide group instructors with the tools they need to take bookings, payments and manage their business in the most cost-effective way.

What is SH1FT?

SH1FT is the brainchild of Will Brereton who wanted to build a global community of Group Fitness Instructors that strive to create ‘fitness for life’ so that their class goers can feel great at any age, with anybody. SH1FT is founded on three main values:

TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER: Hard work doesn’t have to be hard on your body. We use smart, safe and simple progressions to ensure that all levels of fitness can be catered for in a single group.
FITNESS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR SUMMER: We believe fitness is about feeling great in your own skin…for the long term!
FOR ANYBODY, WITH ANY BODY: We create workouts that are non-intimidating, simple and inclusive (not to mention fun!).

SH1FT has created a collection of Group Fitness formats that Instructors use to teach live, online, and blended classes. Each workout is taught using their own market-leading App which automates the boring stuff (saving huge amounts of time and money) and gives Instructors an easy and fast way to customise workouts that are unique to them. Instructors are empowered to deliver engaging, personalised fitness classes where, when, and how they want – with zero restrictions.