Seven Ways to Provide Exceptional Service in Your Studio to Stand Out and Keep Members

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Seven Ways to Provide Exceptional Service in Your Studio to Stand Out and Keep Members

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The fitness industry is competitive. More likely than not, you have tons of direct and indirect competitors in your area, plus YouTube, Peloton, and every fitness streaming app. So, how do you carve out a niche for yourself? My favorite strategy is to make sure no one has any reason to look elsewhere. At my studio, we call this the Pretty Woman effect (as in the 90's film with Julia Roberts). In the movie, she says, "I'm gonna treat you so nice you're never gonna want to let me go." and that became the soul of our customer service culture. 

You already know that providing an exceptional client experience is crucial for enticing new clients to sign memberships, but it's also vital for retaining them in the long run. With so many options available to fitness enthusiasts, it's the quality of service and the overall experience that sets one studio apart from another. That doesn't mean you need to break your rules, bend over backward, or sacrifice your own ethical code to please people. Instead, be crystal clear in your studio policies while being friendly, engaging, and celebratory. Here are some strategies to help you elevate the client experience in your studio:

1. Create a Welcoming Environment: The moment a client walks through your door, they should feel welcomed and valued. There is nothing worse than a front desk person who is too absorbed to look up from their task. Hopefully, you're already putting your best foot forward in the basics, so how can you level up? According to a study by Harvard Business Review, customers are more likely to be loyal to a business when they feel a personal connection. 64% of customers surveyed said that they have a strong relationship with a brand because they feel like the company cares about them. One of the simplest ways to show you care is by remembering your clients' names. It's a small gesture that can make a significant impact on their overall experience and perception of your business. 

At my studio, staff are required to know every single member and intro client's name as well as other details about them to be able to hold a friendly conversation. I love taking photos of each new client and storing them in their account to give staff a little memory boost when they're just not sure if that's Jenna or Jenny about to walk through your doors. When you can greet each client with a smile and personalize their experience based on their personality, they're so much more likely to stick. 

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2. Build Relationships: Your goal is to foster friendships—or at least friendly acquaintanceships—between your clients, staff, and yourself. Take the time to get to know your clients so you can introduce them to other clients who might click with them. Try to remember their fitness goals, kids' ages, job titles, and any other relevant information they feel like sharing. Building a strong relationship with and between your clients fosters loyalty and makes them feel like part of a community.

To shortcut relationship building, you can foster a culture of inclusivity by encouraging clients to introduce themselves to their neighbors before class begins. Nobody enjoys working out with strangers, so help people to connect. While it may seem silly, I've seen classes completely transform just by having clients greet each other. It can be challenging to make friends if you're stuck at the "What's your name?" stage for weeks, so why not facilitate that first step by asking everyone to say hi?

3. Provide Excellent Customer Service: From answering inquiries promptly to addressing concerns effectively, exceptional customer service is key to any business's longevity. Research by HubSpot found that 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as very important when they have a customer service question. In boutique fitness, it can feel like you're never allowed to take a minute off, so train your staff to be attentive and knowledgeable, and consider tasking someone else with answering the never-ending stream of emails so you don't have to. If you don't have employees, a VA can be a great resource as long as you train them in your voice and policies. 

4. Offer Value-Added Services: Do you have any opportunities in your daily operations to "surprise and delight" your clients without breaking your budget? Consider additional services or amenities that enhance the overall client experience, like water stations, essential oil sprays, stocked bathrooms, towel service, or even access to exclusive events and workshops. One of my favorite surprises is to leave little welcome Epsom salts on a new client's mat before class. These little mesh bags take no time at all to make, cost very little, and still show you took time and effort to welcome them into the studio. Plus, they're super Instagrammable by the client as she waits for class- bonus marketing points!

5. Celebrate Milestones and Membership: On the topic of surprises, make a special effort to recognize and celebrate the achievements of your clients, whether it's reaching a fitness goal or a membership anniversary. I love hosting Member Appreciation Week every year and have had clients rearrange vacations to make sure they don't miss out. We also make a huge deal out of milestone celebrations. Include some pageantry! Have members sign the wall, give them prizes for reaching certain milestones, and make sure the class cheers for birthdays, membership anniversaries, and milestone achievements. It doesn't need to be expensive to be meaningful. Paying attention to significant celebrations not only shows your appreciation but also motivates them to continue their fitness journey with you.

6. Collect and Act on Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from your clients and use it to improve your services. My favorite way to do this is with a quarterly survey where you can ask clients:

  1. What are we doing well that you'd like us to continue to focus on?
  2. What could we do better, or what would you like us to start offering in the future? 
  3. What do you not love about our studio that we could work harder on?

Whether it's through surveys or one-on-one conversations, showing that you value their input can lead to valuable insights and improvements. Plus, it makes your clients feel like their opinion is important and gives you great testimonials for social proof. 

7. Stay Connected: Keep your clients engaged outside of the studio through social media, newsletters, and events. Spend ten minutes a few times a week commenting on your clients' pictures or responding to comments. Take the time to write engaging newsletters, and try to include one out-of-class event a quarter. Staying connected helps to build a sense of community and keeps your studio top of mind, which can save a membership when budgets get tight, or life gets busy.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an exceptional client experience that not only attracts new members but also keeps them coming back (with friends!) for years. Remember, in boutique fitness, it's the little things that can make a big difference. Your job is to show your clients that your studio isn't a big box gym or giant brand- that they matter to you. Every interaction counts, and by focusing on providing exceptional service, you can set your studio apart and create a loyal client base that will support your business for years to come.

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About the author:

Niki Riga
Industry Expert
Limitless Studio

Niki has been a client, a studio owner, and a coach in boutique fitness for over a decade, and she can’t think of an industry she'd rather be in. Her favorite part about coaching and studio ownership are the same: she loves supporting clients as they push past their limits and achieve their goals. Niki became a coach because she was regularly asked, “how did you do that!?” by other studio owners who were drowning in the day-to-day responsibilities of business ownership but didn’t have the support to grow their studio to its potential. She created Limitless Studio to partner with owners who have a vision for their business and are ready to implement systems to build the studio of their dreams.