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Yoga instructor helping with modifications in a yoga class

What do your customers REALLY want?

According to YouGov, one in 20 (5%) gym-goers have discontinued a previous membership simply because they didn’t enjoy the experience. Considering the research findings, we have compiled a list of the top five things gym/studio owners should consider to encourage new customers through the door and drive loyalty and retention of existing members.

1. Location flexibility

Sixty-three percent of millennials not living at home with their parents are renting, and today’s twenty-somethings living in big cities such as London are more likely to be renting due to affordability. It’s common to see renters move to a different property every 12 months because of yearly contracts, so sticking to classes located in just one area might be off-putting to renters who are less settled than homeowners. If possible, offer access to multiple facilities in different locations but all under one membership, and make sure to shout about it to let your customers know where they can find you.

2. Online payments and bookings

When it comes to attracting new members—and keeping them—facilitating last minute booking online could be the key to success. According to recent Mindbody research, of the top 15 successful studios (based on the number of consumers who access their services), almost 93% have app-bookings enabled, compared to 58% of overall customers. Furthermore, over 20 million bookings made on Mindbody via mobile and web were made on the day of a class, compared to just 5 million the day before a class. With these figures in mind, it is evident that consumers respond well to convenience

3. A sense of belonging

In a world of aggregators, it can be harder to build day-to-day loyalty and relationships, so it is becoming increasingly important to inspire communities and a sense of belonging in your studio or gym. Simple behaviours, such as acknowledging your regular customers and appreciating them can go a long way. Try rewarding ‘milestone’ visits with small incentives, such as retail gifts, a complimentary pass, or giving them a ‘shout out’ in class or on social.

Why look past your own member database when seeking opportunities to promote your business, appoint loyal clients as unofficial ambassadors to engage them even further and make them feel part of your ‘family’ or tribe. Furthermore, according to our research, word of mouth and recommendation from a friend were the top-performing marketing channels for studios, so the more ‘ambassadors’ you have on the ground doing your marketing for you, the better.

4. Diversity

Instead of heavily targeting the younger generations, many customers also want to see more consideration of the ‘grey market’ in classes and advertising. Featuring those aged over 60 could encourage a range of different age groups to feel less intimidated by your class offerings and sign up.

Previous Mindbody research found that 58% of UK residents aged 60+ agreed they exercise to be fitter, indicating there is interest from older generations to get involved with a variety of classes!

5. Declutter

Although the gym floor is expected to get busy during peak times, customers still appreciate having some distance between each piece of apparatus, so be careful not to pile up on equipment. It’s a good idea to create different sections per workout type by separating equipment by different needs, such as strength work and cardio.

Having a general declutter of public spaces and keeping on top of cleanliness sounds quite basic, but it’s not something customers should have to correct when visiting and can have a huge impact on the ratings of your facility, despite your classes or instruction being of the highest standard. New research found that some gym equipment contains more germs than a toilet seat, so keeping your classes visibly clean will keep customers feeling safe while they use your facilities. More recent Mindbody research also found that the provision of (fluffy) towels was considered a premium offering in the same league as high-quality fitness instruction at (boutique) studios, which emphasises the importance of creating a comfortable environment.

With the boutique fitness industry still growing, there are more and more studios for people to choose from to get their next cardio fix or endorphin rush, so little things can make a big difference when attracting a new customer for the first time or enticing one back. Adding a touch of personalisation to your class or studio can make all the difference in a good first impression. But the most important thing you can do is listen to your customers, and if you’re not getting much feedback, you need to ask for it. Honest feedback gives you the chance to give your customers what they really want, improving your class or studio for all.


About the author:

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Staff Writer

Mindbody is powering the world's fitness and wellness businesses, connecting them with more consumers, more effectively, than anyone else.


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