In January 2018, I wrote a Medium article about my ambivalence towards Classpass as a studio owner on the Classpass platform. I talked about my perceived costs and benefits towards keeping my studio on the platform and wondered, really, how long I’d stay on it. Back then, I was 18 months into owning my first studio, San Francisco Pole & Dance, and was just 6 months into San Francisco Pole & Dance’s first expansion.
Back then I had room to grow with ample class slots in each of the then-new 22 additional classes on the studio’s expanded class offerings schedule. One of the points of my original article was that as long as there were class slots to offer to people who weren’t paying full price, it made sense to keep my studio on the Classpass platform because of the powerful lead generation and brand awareness that Classpass offered to my business. I understood the downsides — the psychological discounting of Classpass membership in Classpass users’ minds, and the issues with the Premium Reservations platform which essentially made my studio’s offerings on Classpass a discounted competitor to my business — but after Classpass agreed to turn off premium reservations for me, those drawbacks were still worth it to me for getting my business’ name out there, even going into our second year of business.
After I published that piece, I heard from many other small business and studio owners who shared my ambivalence towards Classpass. Generally, those studio owners agreed that there are some benefits to being on the platform (free marketing, exposure, etc.) but that they simply weren’t sure if the costs (i.e. a devaluation of the classes in the eyes of the customer, an emphasis on quantity over quality, etc.) outweighed those benefits. The truth is that none of us really know. We look to the left, look to the right, maybe experience a twinge of FOMO and get on the platform because we don’t want to be left in the dust of what we’re told is innovation in the fitness industry.
Fast forward 9 months and by September 2018 many of my studio’s classes were being waitlisted consistently week over week. I decided, finally, that it was time to ween my studio off of Classpass and I made the call to take our studio off the platform. We were reminded of the 90 day opt-out period that studios must stay on Classpass after cancellation and which we had contractually agreed to, and so continued to offer our classes on Classpass through December 2018.
January 2019 was a fresh start — and our foray into a post Classpass lead-generation world. That same month, we opened a second location, Oakland Pole & Dance, across the East Bay bridge in Oakland (essentially creating a competitor to our first studio), announced another expansion of the San Francisco location (doubling capacity for the second time in less than 3 years), and also announced our first pricing increase, raising our pricing by 20% across all pricing options. While the pricing increase still left us just under the pricing options of our competitors, I was really nervous. What if it was all too much, too fast? I wasn’t sure what a world without the helpful and significant and *free* marketing from Classpass looked like and I was about to find out.
It’s now June 2019, and I’m happy to say we’re still alive and thriving. My fear that people wouldn’t understand the value of my studio at a higher price point and without the Classpass discounted lead generation funnel did not manifest itself but our studio post-Classpass does look a bit different than when we were on the platform. In this article, I’ll talk a bit about what changes we’ve seen and talk through my own studio’s metrics to show the usefulness of Classpass as a lead generator comparative to other types of top of the funnel entries.