The explosion of boutique fitness studios in the past ten years has created a major shift in the fitness industry. Once dominated by big box gyms that give members access to a range of amenities for a reasonable monthly fee, the fitness industry has seen a giant surge in demand for a more specialized, premium workout experience. In addition to their specialized workout offerings, this newer desired sense of community has created the need for studios to provide a superior in-studio experience.
That being said, many businesses trying to improve this experience are looking in the wrong areas and missing out on a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves from the studio next door.
Yes – branded retail swag, complimentary towels, friendly staff, dimmed lights, and loud music are a huge part of this experience. However, the key ingredient to providing an exceptional in-studio experience starts with your online scheduling software.
Why the In-Studio Experience Begins Online
A seamless fitness scheduling experience eliminates unnecessary friction and allows for more positive interactions between clients and staff. Many times, clients will come into the studio just minutes before the class begins. If they’re confused about a package they purchased, lagging waitlist information, or the class they scheduled, it’s up to the staff to quickly solve the issue.
Which is a separate set of problems – unless it’s a larger boutique fitness studio, the staff member is usually the one instructing the class as well, limiting their ability to engage with clients or prepare for the class.
However, there are ways to avoid this in-studio friction with better navigation and class descriptions on the website.
The following suggestions assume the business has a functional scheduling tool in place. I shared this article with a colleague of mine that was a devoted Orange Theory customer, a boutique fitness studio franchise that’s popular for their signature cardio and strength-training interval workouts. She was attending their studio three to four times a week but had so many scheduling bugs with their MINDBODY app that she completely stopped going. This is the worst-case scenario for businesses – losing clients not because of your service… but because of scheduling friction.
Link directly to what’s needed to purchase
Too often, fitness studios will link buttons on their website to a login portal or public list of all of their classes. Many times, clients know what they want to buy but need to sort through the scheduling software’s clutter to understand the actions needed to do so.
In addition to better descriptions, taking the extra step to link to the correct package needed for a particular class helps reduce steps and confusion for clients. Don’t just throw up a single button and call it quits.
This is something we always emphasize to our customers. Small investment (time), big payoff (more conversions).
Keep purchasing decisions simple
While having a multitude of classes is great, it does have the potential downside of confusing clients. Combining these classes into the fewest number of credit packages or membership options creates easy decisions for buyers. If all membership options or credit packages provide access to all of the classes, then clients only need to decide between 1-2 options to purchase.
Using a flexible fitness software that provides the ability to associate classes with various credit packages and membership options is imperative. Without one, clients will need to book each offering individually.
Provide rich descriptions of classes, packages, and memberships
It may seem like a no-brainer, but many fitness studios provide very little detail about their offerings on their website. The prospective client most likely understands the business’s niche, but when they go to book, there’s always an overwhelming number of options to schedule. This can be especially intimidating to new members who may not be familiar with the different class options, or beginners starting their fitness journey.
Furthermore, since many studios run a membership-based business model, clients may be unaware of which membership or credit package gives them access to certain classes.
What’s the difference between the “3 Class Intro Pack” and the “5 Class Package”? Does the “Single Class Credit” give them the ability to use for all classes or just certain ones? Providing more detail on websites helps alleviate the booking anxiety for new or returning clients.
Without a doubt, the exploding boutique fitness segment has forced businesses to change the way they operate across all facets. Consumers have proven they are willing to pay top dollar for a more specialized, community-driven experience. However, businesses must realize that the premium space they are competing for extends outside the boundaries of their studio.
The online scheduling process is a big part of the whole experience – especially for new members – and by using a seamless scheduling software they can gain a clear advantage and turn one member into two.