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The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding Your Studio Post-COVID

The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding Your Studio Post-COVID

The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding Your Studio Post-COVID

BUSINESS STRATEGIES

FitGrid | June 23, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the fitness industry forever.

The landscape has shifted, your customers’ needs have evolved, even your staff might not be the same. How do you navigate all of these changes to rebuild your business in this new environment? We’ve tapped into our expert network to create these fitness studio reopening guidelines that can help you rebuild post-pandemic.

Reconstruct Your Sales & Marketing Strategies

In 2020 we saw fitness enthusiasts and gym-goers from all over the world leave their physical studio memberships behind and shift towards digital and connected fitness. Now that people are starting to feel more comfortable in studio, how can you recreate your sales and marketing strategies to get people back in the door and off of their mass-market apps? 

It’s time to switch gears from being in survival mode to re-establishing in-person sessions, growing multiple revenue streams, and welcoming clients back into the studio.

In order to build a thriving business post-COVID, you will need to evolve your sales and marketing plans to meet the times. From leveraging your new online classes to focusing on building a brand that transcends the four walls of your studio, to utilizing tools that help you automate communication, we outline the ins and outs of post-pandemic sales and marketing strategies.

Focus on Customer Retention

Customer retention is the top way to increase your revenue. It is less time-consuming and expensive to nurture your current community than it is to go out and find new customers. Even a small uptick in retention can support your bottom line. According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.

Rather than spending your time, energy, and money on trying to find new customers, use tools to get to know your customers and build a true understanding of what drives them to keep coming back. Capturing data about your customer’s preferences and feedback can help you understand how to build programming that your community wants and needs and communicate with them in a way that inspires them to return. Learn about the key data points that can help you increase retention and revenue. 

(Re)Build Your Studio Community

Your community is your greatest asset. With so many studios out there, it is essential to create an irresistible sense of community. People don’t come to your studio for the workout, they can get that anywhere. Your clients keep coming back because they want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves, a community of like-minded people. 

“Once a client has chosen your studio, the connections to others are what keep them around,” says Nt Etuk, founder of FitGrid. In fact, our analysis shows that clients who are connected to one or more of their classmates in the FitGrid Class App attend 66% more often than those who don’t. 

How can you encourage your members to connect and form bonds that strengthen your business? Our experts lay out their best strategies for deepening bonds within your community.

Reframe Your Pricing 

Revenue is a key driver in your fitness business and it is likely that this year drastically changed your revenue streams. Now that you are reopening your studio doors, what is the best way to price your various experiences? Where can you find new revenue streams and how can you optimize your pricing to stay relevant? 

It’s possible that you might be in a better financial position than before the pandemic in terms of opportunity. You now likely have a mix of programs that you can continue to monetize going forward.

Our network of financial experts share their insights into how to reframe your ideas of revenue to account for the post-pandemic industry. 

Turn Your Staff Into Salespeople

You might be trying to wrap your head around how your business can thrive in this new environment. Have you considered that your most valuable sales assets might be right at your fingertips? Engaging your staff and instructors in client communication can increase the sense of community at your studio, boost retention, and help you bring in new business. 

In our experience, there are many ways to encourage your staff and instructors to act as your best salespeople. From personalized communication, to hiring strategies and performance metrics, we break down the power of valuing your employees. One communication strategy outlined was shown to increase studio visits by as much as 66 percent! And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Keep Offering Livestream Classes 

As people in the United States begin to emerge from lockdown, the state of the post-COVID fitness industry is starting to take shape. Before heading back into the studio to resume business as usual, it might be worthwhile to spend time reflecting on what programs will bring you the most success as you reopen. Is it possible that some practices adopted during the pandemic may be fruitful going forward?

During mandated closures, it is likely that your studio invested in technology to livestream and digitize your classes. Why walk away from everything you’ve built? There is a way to reopen your studio to traditional classes and continue offering livestream fitness classes. A hybrid model can be a helpful resource for transitioning out of COVID lockdown as well as expanding your community and revenue opportunities.

While the concept might sound simple, the hybrid class model requires planning and the right set of tools for execution. We’ve shared trends and best practices to help you diversify your revenue streams and keep your clients happy.

Don’t Forget About Personal Development

Being a great studio owner is more than just running a profitable business. Exceptional leadership can be the difference between a lasting brand and a business that fizzles. To be a great leader that inspires your clients and instructors, and enthusiastically builds your dreams, you need to be doing some inner work as well. Yet, it can be far too easy to overlook your personal development while taking care of the day-to-day tedium of studio management. Carving out time for networking and self-care can improve your life – and your business. 

Excited to dive into these topics in-depth to build a more successful studio post-pandemic? We’ve compiled actionable advice from industry experts into this definitive guide.  

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FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level

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11 Tips for Fitness Instructors Who Are New to Live-Streaming

11 Tips for Fitness Instructors Who Are New to Live-Streaming

11 Tips for Fitness Instructors Who Are New to Live-Streaming

BUSINESS OWNER INSIGHTS

Nicole Cier | April 3, 2020

If you’re a fitness studio owner or instructor who is new to streaming classes, you’re probably still getting comfortable with the shift. We’ve put together some tips to help you get the best results possible. Keep in mind that perfection is not the goal or the expectation. What matters is that your team is showing up for your clients and giving them a way to stay healthy and connected while they’re stuck at home—no fancy equipment necessary.

Here are our tips to help your live-stream fitness sessions go as smoothly as possible…

1. We need community now more than ever

Clients look up to your studio team to guide them through their fitness regimen and inspire them to follow through with their goals. Yet without the typical social interactions and friendly competition they’d get during a face-to-face session at the studio, they may feel alone in their fitness journey. Just because you’re WOFH—“working out from home”—doesn’t mean you can’t continue to support them! Cheer your clients on and make them aware that you are there for them during this unusual time. Let them know you are here for them, and back them up with support from you and the studio.

2. Encourage clients to invite friends to class

We’re all looking for ways to do virtual activities with friends and family in order to help support each other. So encourage clients to invite someone to the next class—and that someone can be anywhere in the world. Now that you’re live-streaming, start tapping into your clients’ broader social networks while giving them ways to stay connected, too. This creates new leads for your classes once the studio is able to reopen as well as strengthens your community.

3. Get comfortable with the process

Any mobile phone, laptop, or desktop computer with video capabilities can work for live-stream content, but make sure you are familiar with it ahead of time. Charge your phone or computer as well as any headset or earbuds you might be using. Set up a tripod, or create a makeshift tripod out of stacked books or boxes. You may want to film a few test shots to make sure you are fully in the frame but close enough to the camera so that clients can clearly see you. If you are using FitGrid and Zoom to live-stream, make sure you download the Zoom streaming app (see our FitGrid LIVE User Guide for more information on how to do so). Then you will receive a link to access your “virtual classroom.” Once you Zoom-enable the class, email notifications will go out to clients one hour before class starts, and instructors will receive the class link 30 minutes before class. 

4. Give yourself (and everyone else) ample time

Allow a 15 minute period to prep for your class and ensure all your audio and visual settings are correct. A few minutes before class you can allow clients to virtually check-in, get settled, and welcome everyone. And after class, if time allows, set aside 15 minutes for instructors to address any questions or concerns clients may have. This is a confusing time for all of us, and having their favorite instructors’ insights can ease any worries clients may have about maintaining their fitness routine.

5. Send follow-ups after class and ask for feedback

This is going to be a new experience for most of your clients, and admittedly we’re all figuring it out along the way. That’s why it’s crucial that you take the time to reach out to clients after class—ask them how they liked it, what they’d like to see more or less of, and just generally let them know that you’re still available even if you aren’t seeing them in person. FitGrid has built these tools into its platform with the instructor app, which makes it easy to keep track of clients’ needs and send followup messages after class, as well as the Client Feedback tool, which automatically sends surveys out after each class.

6. Be mindful of lighting

Most fluorescent and overhead lighting does not work well with video. It creates a flickering effect that can distract the viewer and interfere with the quality of your video. Film your workouts with natural light if you can. Be sure that your body faces the light source to prevent being backlit and therefore difficult to see. Outdoor filming can offer great results as well. But make sure before filming that you have a steady WiFi connection and there is minimal background noise, such as birds or street sounds. Also, direct sunlight is not ideal either indoors or out.

7. Keep it easy on the eyes

Avoid wearing clothing with bright colors or patterns because they can distract from the workout on camera. Try to wear clothing that contrasts with your surroundings; for example, if your background is bright, wear dark colors, and if your background is on the darker side, wear bright colors. Pick a simple environment if you can, too, such as a clean, bright room with limited furniture and clutter. Clients will have a much easier time focusing on your instruction without these distractions in the background.

8. Consider your audio quality

It can take some work to perfect the audio quality of a streaming class. Make sure you speak clearly and slowly and project your voice. Avoid rooms with echoes or noise drifting in from nearby family or friends, if you are quarantining together. You can also use a wireless microphone or Bluetooth earbuds, such as AirPods, to achieve higher quality audio—just be sure to fully charge it in advance! For more tips on obtaining the best audio quality for your live-stream, we’ve put some info together here: FitGrid LIVE Optimal Audio/Video Guide.

9. Stay consistent, when possible

Try to record your fitness classes in the same location each time without changing the physical lighting or furniture in order to create a sense of continuity in your videos, both for your own convenience and the comfort of your viewers. This includes your clothing, too—stick to a similar color palette. These simple choices can create a reliable atmosphere for your clients that they will appreciate.

10. Use Zoom filters to touch up

This trending article from The Cut reveals a “beauty filter” that you can activate through Zoom webcam conference services to freshen up your appearance after days spent inside (and possibly without skincare or makeup products to help out). Click on the bottom left button on the Zoom screen, “video settings,” and click “touch up my appearance.” This will slightly alter the image in the webcam to make it a bit more forgiving on the details.

11. Host Q&A sessions for clients who need extra attention

Consider creating a live-stream schedule to help clients who may be experiencing technical difficulties or need extra modifications or support for their workouts. They’ll appreciate knowing that you’re there for them—and this is something that no on-demand platform can offer. 

Your clients will be so grateful that you’re adapting to new circumstances and needs in order to help them stay active from home. Ultimately, we believe streaming is probably here to stay, and using it now will also be preparation for the future in which it’s part of most studios offerings.

BONUS: Here is a helpful guide with tips for teaching virtual fitness classes from home that you can keep on hand or share with your instructors. 

We’ve been helping fitness studios go virtual since the beginning of the pandemic. Let us help you. Learn more about FitGrid today

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FitGrid

FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level

Continue reading