How to Leverage Automation in Your Fitness Business
A recent study by market research firm IDC estimates that businesses lose 20-30% of revenue each year due to inefficient processes. That’s a significant portion of income for any business owner to lose, much less a fitness studio owner recovering from a pandemic. However, inefficient processes are responsible for more than just lost revenue—they can lead to poor customer service, employee dissatisfaction, and overall disorganization.
As a Certified Mindbody Business Consultant, I regularly discuss systems and processes with my clients, and while there are many ways to address inefficiencies, none are as effective as automation.
Technically speaking, automation is the use of technology to perform tasks with minimal human intervention. Non-technically, automation is a method of working smarter, not harder—which helps busy studio owners increase revenue and decrease workload. This is especially valuable today, where staffing shortages and reduced budgets are commonplace.
While many studio owners use basic automation for tasks such as scheduling and managing payments, most aren’t leveraging automation to its full potential. Here’s why:
- They don’t want to slow down long enough to learn new technology and implement new processes (I get it—it can be hard to find the time)
- They aren’t sure where or how to start
Let’s explore how automation can benefit your business, ways you can leverage the various tools available, and a few best practices to get started.
Benefits of using automation in your fitness business
Boost sales and marketing
Marketing no longer needs to be expensive or time-consuming. With automation, fitness studios can design a marketing strategy that will generate more leads, convert more members, and improve their ROI. According to VB Insight, 80% of companies that implement marketing automation see an increase in lead generation, while 77% see an increase in customer conversions. Additionally, marketing automation will quickly grow your customer database with motivated potential clients.
Marketing Suite is an excellent option for automating your marketing and sales processes. Fully integrated with your Mindbody software, it includes features such as customized e-mails, automated text campaigns, and online offer promotions that allow you to acquire new clients and retain existing ones.
Improve the client experience
The client experience is a critical component of any successful fitness business. Resource-intensive functions like sales and client follow-up can be automated to deliver not only consistent but enhanced customer experiences at every step of the client journey. When clients are happy with their brand interaction, it can significantly impact sales and retention.
One potential solution to automate and improve customer interactions is with Messenger[ai]—an automated assistant that uses artificial intelligence to perform what would typically be front desk-type tasks. While it doesn’t entirely replace your front desk, it uses chatbot capabilities to act as a virtual assistant to ensure you never miss incoming calls, sales, or booking opportunities—it’s basically 24/7 customer service.
Strategy and planning are key components of growing and scaling a business. However, many business owners are so caught up in the day-to-day details of running their business, that they have very little time to devote to “big picture” thinking. By automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks, owners have more time to dedicate to growth activities. In addition, automation enhances work/life balance for not only business owners, but their employees—which can lead to increased staff retention rates.
Now that you know how automation can significantly improve your fitness business, here are some tips to get started:
How to get started with automation
- Slow down: Accept that there will be a learning curve when implementing automation and learning new technology.
- Determine needs: To better understand your studio's needs, start by evaluating your everyday business processes. Then determine which ones require the most time and resources.
- Start small: Don’t try to do it all at once—take time to assess your processes individually to identify specific areas of improvement. Take the time upfront to ensure you don’t waste time and/or money.
- Choose tools: When choosing automation tools for your studio, consider budget, technical support, and software integration. If you’re a Mindbody customer, tools such as Marketing Suite and Messenger[ai] are excellent options as they integrate seamlessly into your existing software. Plus, the Mindbody team provides ongoing training and support.
- Define success: Determine what will make your automation strategy a success. Is it increased lead generation? Increased conversions? Reduced operating costs? Write it down so you can track it.
- Track and refine: To assess automation's impact on your fitness business, you need to be willing to track the results and continually refine your processes. Even small tweaks to your workflows can result in significant increases in cost savings and/or revenue.
Using automation to work smarter, not harder will transform your business. As a former studio owner, if there's one thing I could go back and do differently, it would be to implement and leverage automation to a greater degree. In doing so, I would’ve not only increased my bottom line but my quality of life.