When it comes to retaining clients for your business, it’s critical to consider the balance between using a platform to automate your efforts and push up your sleeves to do the work manually.
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 various clients at a regular cadence. But when it comes to 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 or Zoom room, making phone calls, and interacting with clients 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 contact all clients regularly? And how many staff members do you still have to assist with these? 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 five tips for increasing your studio’s retention:
1. Offer curated experiences that are unique to your business and bring out the best in your studio
Clients absorb and evaluate everything about your business before deciding to return – the facilities or platforms, check-in, interactions and touchpoints, and the class itself. Keeping clients coming back gives them an experience that’s unique, personalized, and feels special.
Three categories drive the client experience:
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 significant life milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) helps increase retention. Hint: make sure you are using platforms or tech that will help you acquire more than just name and email, even virtually.
2. Develop repeatable programming and curriculum designed to keep clients coming back
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 four types of offerings can help:
Automation/Personalization Balance: Developing programs that appeal to a broad audience yet have enough self-customization that clients can find a mix that’s right for them.
3. Build a community: clients are more likely to come back the more connected they are to the other people around 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.
4. Having a “linear touchpoint timeline” communication strategy will make sure you’re touching base at the right times
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 touchpoints a new client might have with your business include:
These common touchpoints 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. Reminder: If you had this process in studio and now have a virtual business, have you replicated that process for your virtual students?
Automation/Personalization Balance: Using a mix of technology, people, automated messages, and one-to-one touchpoints will create the perfect blend of messaging that should help retain clients.
5. Hold clients accountable to their goals is the most fundamental retention strategy of all time
The new client on-boarding process should always include a place to document the goals of your clients. Whether they want to lose weight, increase strength or improve their overall sense of well-being, note these 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. Using technology like the FitGrid Class App will help you learn your clients’ goals from the start by collecting this data and making it readily available for your team.
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.