Strengthen Your Community to Strengthen Retention
By Nt Etuk
Nurture your community or lose clients to your competition.
As a studio owner, you are in the incredible position of nurturing, facilitating and bringing the incredible energy of your community to life. The space you provide, the excellence of your instructors, and the countless small things that you do to ensure a great experience for the clients who walk through your door, that people rave about your studio, clamor to come back and tell their friends all about it.
BUT studio owners often forget that, at the core, the fitness business is about human connection and interaction.
As a client, I come to your studio because I want to a convenient, affordable place to workout. But that’s just how I decide to enroll. Once I’m in, it is all about my connection to the people in the studio — the instructors and the other clients.
For example, at FitGrid, we found that just one of our product’s features led to 70-80% open rates of communications sent, 20% replies back from the clients receiving such messages and a 20% increase in return rates of first time studio visitors.
This insight supports the SurveyGizmo study of 1,211 US fitness consumers revealed by MINDBODY in September 2017. The study asked the question, “Thinking about fitness studios that you’ve attended repeatedly, what are the most important reasons you continue going back?”
In order of importance, the answers were:
- Activity (the classes offered)
- Accessibility (the location, price and schedule)
- Community (the instructors and other clients)
Once you get beyond the two base requirements for even signing up — activity and accessibility, the most important factor is the people and your connection to them.
In other words, once a client has chosen your studio, the connections to others are what keep them around.
I equate this to looking at why people stay in or depart from their hometown.
A 2008 Pew Survey found that people who stay in their hometown, overwhelmingly say they remain because of family ties. Most say at least half a dozen members of their extended families live within an hour’s drive. That means that 40% of those people who stay in their hometown, more than 10 relatives live nearby.
Equate this to your studio.
If you want people to stay, they need to feel connected to other “family” members. If they don’t, they will leave.
In an increasingly fast-paced world, finding a “community” where we feel safe, where we feel a sense of connectedness and where we feel a common set of interests with others is something we crave.
Our yoga studio. Our barre studio. Our bootcamp class. These are all places we look to for that support more than ever before; and walking into a community of like-minded people, committed to the same cause is something we deliberately seek out.
So if you want to drive retention and sales in your studio, focus your people on driving personal connection, and invest in tools that expose, deepen and allow those connections to flourish.