Rather than fearing that ClassPass will devalue their services, fitness studio owners should focus on ways to convert the right leads into loyal members.
ClassPass provides the technology to refine the inflow of customers to your facility so you can target the right leads for your brand. (Photo by Thinkstock.)
ClassPass, a disruptive technology in the fitness industry, grants users limited access to thousands of gyms for a monthly membership fee. Surfaced in 2014, it’s been one of the largest contributing factors to the growth of the boutique fitness market. As of April 2016, ClassPass had 8,000 studio partners and had raised $84 million in funding, according to this Forbes article from that month.
Though many fitness experts express concern that this platform will devalue their services, the continued growth of ClassPass in the fitness market indicates this technology is here to stay—and if not ClassPass, another similar product will replace it. Developing a system that allows these technologies to become an ancillary revenue stream and marketing channel for your business is possible, and necessary, with the right tools and perspective.
Know Your Client
ClassPass widens the entry way to your business, bringing in members unlikely to have found you otherwise. As new clients flood in, you will want to serve all of them, but you need to ensure you have a clear definition of your ideal client so you can focus your greatest energy on them.
At our studio, we have a clearly defined image of the RedBird client, which allows us to recognize her when she walks through the door. Without this, we dilute our brand and waste time chasing customers that are not the right fit.
To define your ideal client, start by looking at yourself; like attracts like. Identify what compels you and what you look for in a brand. You’ll find that description accurately portrays many of your stickiest clients.
Once you have done that, back up this intuitive knowledge with data. Use tools, such as Survey Monkey, to send out questionnaires. Use your CRM software to generate reports on client demographics. Aggregate and analyze this data.
Stay True to Your Mission and Values
It’s always tempting to chase trends to get more bodies, but in our experience, moving away from our values did not increase our attendance, only our labor costs.
When we are teaching in our wheelhouse and remaining authentic in our programming, our attendance increases due to an improved client experience. More importantly, our clients— including ClassPass clients—learn what differentiates our brand. Those who are drawn to what we stand for can find a home.
As an example, last year we decided to implement trend-based classes we believed would appeal to the millennial market and increase ClassPass revenue. It turned out that these classes were poorly attended by all clients with increased labor costs and brand dilution. Once we returned to our roots, our attendance went back up, and many ClassPass users decided to become studio members.
ClassPass is an ancillary and viable revenue channel, but it is not our primary source of revenue nor does it influence programming decisions.
Develop Nurturing Sales Funnels
ClassPass is an opportunity to expose your business to a new market of millennials, but to keep them as clients, you must educate them about your brand and methodology with a nurturing sales cycle. The client experience begins when they walk in the door. Our teachers are trained to welcome every new client with a handshake and facility tour that relaxes clients who would otherwise feel uncomfortable in a studio setting.
After their first visit, all new ClassPass clients are sent a welcome email from their teacher, which establishes a relationship and point of entry into the RedBird community.
ClassPass clients are then added to a specific mailing list where they receive a series of emails that educates them about our brand differentiators and proprietary programs. This nurturing cycle enables us to grow our core studio population by helping us connect with the clients that are drawn to us.
Ensure a Consistent Experience
One of the greatest values ClassPass brings is business exposure, but it’s vital that the exposure is used to anchor your brand in your market.
To ensure a consistent brand experience, you must understand the key factors that make you successful, focusing every system in your organization on these factors.
The more you guide ClassPass clients’ experiences, expose them to your success factors and cultivate their understanding of your brand, the more they will evangelize your business in the community, growing your reputation.
Understand/Utilize the Technology
Unlike its predecessors, Groupon and Living Social, ClassPass provides the technology to refine the inflow of customers to your facility. The studio dashboard is pivotal to managing into which classes and programs ClassPass participants are funneled. Best practices require daily management of this channel, and the technology provided by ClassPass easily allows for this. In addition, a tremendous amount of data can be mined from this dashboard: client emails, studio reviews, attendance reports, etc. This information is invaluable in creating nurturing sales cycles, making programming decisions and forecasting financials.
ClassPass and similar technologies are the future of the fitness industry, especially the boutique market. Leveraging these systems as marketing tools and ancillary revenue streams is vital to the success and longevity of your business. Making time and finding altitude to develop strategies to meet these new consumer models head on—with clear branding, vision and mission—is critical to being a part of this new growth, rather than being run over by it.
Elisabeth Kristof and Lee Vallely are co-owners of RedBird Fitness LLC. RedBird is a movement method, established in 2007 and built on 40 years of experience in the fitness industry. Vallely has a background as a professional dancer, club owner, corporate wellness expert and boutique studio owner. Kristof has an MA in journalism and 10 years of experience as a boutique studio owner. RedBird Pilates and Fitness is a studio in downtown Austin, Texas, with a national Pilates teacher training program and an online platform, www.rb360online.com. Both Kristof and Vallely also write for the Association of Fitness Studios.