With automation – the notion that a studio can trigger ongoing communications to its clients is attractive and relatively easy to implement. A few clicks and presto: you’re sending important messages to a variety of clients at a regular cadence. But when it comes to the subject of retaining clients – rather than creating awareness around your promotions – is automation the right way to go? While 71% of studio owners report using marketing automation for their business, client retention continues to be the industry’s #1 challenge.
So what about manual outreach? Writing personalized emails, asking instructors to engage with clients outside the classroom, making phone calls and interacting with clients at the studio before or after class? Well, that’s a lot of work. But more to the point, how many managers or instructors have the time to realistically contact all clients on an ongoing basis? Probably very few, which is where the retention paradox exists. So should you automate or personalize your retention efforts?
That is the framework around which we’ve written our top 5 tips for increasing your studio’s retention:
Clients absorb and evaluate everything about your business before deciding to return – the facilities, check-in, interactions with managers and the class itself. To keep clients coming back, give them an experience that’s unique, personalized and feels special.
The client experience is driven by 3 categories:
Automation/Personalization Balance: Your managers and instructors should make all check-in, class and post-class interactions as personal as possible. Knowing clients names and major life milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) help increase retention.
Though your studio may offer a wide array of classes, most studios fail to realize the valuable role that routine can play in retention. Creating recurring programs designed to force regular behavior motivates clients to keep working towards new goals and thus, coming back to your studio.. These 4 types of offerings can help:
Automation/Personalization Balance: Developing programs that appeal to a wide audience, yet have enough self-customization that clients can find a mix that’s right for them.
Creating community at your studio is one of the most beneficial things studio owners can do to keep clients coming back. Having a strong community can be extremely effective in retaining clients, and this effort begins with instructors connecting with clients.
Automation/Personalization Balance: Using a technology like FitGrid Pro allows automating messages that look and sound authentic with the flexibility of personalizing them when the situation calls for it.
Most studios use a variety of technology platforms to communicate with their customers. However, many are over-communicating because there is confusion about which platform is sending each message. For example, the touch points a new client might have with your business include:
These common touch points for a new client at your studio have a person, platform or technology to help facilitate delivery, yet few studios set forth a linear touchpoint timeline that assigns each to a person or platform. Failure to outline this process often leads to mixed messaging.
Automation/Personalization Balance: Using a mix of technology, people, automated messages and one-to-one touch points will create the perfect blend of messaging that should help retain clients.
The new client on-boarding process should always include a place to document the goals of your clients. Whether they are aiming to lose weight, increase strength or improve their overall sense of well-being, these should be noted on their account. Then theoretically, holding clients accountable to their goals should influence their behavior
Three popular accountability techniques include:
Automation/Personalization Balance: Holding clients accountable in a training environment is deeply personalized and relies heavily on frequent interpersonal communication.
Sending automated messages that contain personal content is the ultimate healthy balance between your convenience and your clients’ satisfaction. Finding the perfect middle ground between automation and personalization not only saves time for instructors, but still thoroughly communicates to your clients that you value and appreciate them. Show clients they matter by using FitGrid to thank them for their attendance and effort every session, and keep them coming back for more.
Bonus: Download a free guide on Effective Client Interactions that will show you how to tap into the most important factors of effective communication with clients.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level