Admit it or not, your box is a business. We all know that the community is all about helping people and being around like-minded individuals who push each other to their limits and beyond. But in the end Box owners still have to make money to survive and buy new equipment, to keep the place clean, organize competitions, provide wages for coaches, pay licenses and all the seminars where they learn the knowledge that they transfer to you etc. Believe me, the costs add up quickly. The easiest way to have a better box is to have more clients.
In this article I will give you some tips on how to increase your client base without spending too much money.
However, even if you take your box as a business never forget about you clients. Many boxes make a general mistake by focusing all their efforts on bringing new customers in. This is something to be avoided at all costs. In a business like this, returning customers are everything. Since there are only so much people in your city/town/district, most of your efforts should be in retaining the client base you already have.
There are several methods to do that:
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If you are the owner and coach it’s not easy but you should always learn new methods, styles, techniques. As an owner who employs coaches/trainers, you should invest in their knowledge. Never ever sleep on your knowledge. Nowadays everybody is connected to the world trough social media and people will notice if the Functional World does new things and your Box lags behind.
I have a special mindset in my business that can transfer to all business branches. I always think that my competitor does not stop. Whoever he is, he is always testing new methods, reads articles, attends events and does everything I should do. My competition is always evolving and I should, too. Every time I procrastinate, I think about my competitor, who is learning while I am not and that gives me motivation to lift my ass and hustle. People always want the most for their money and you should always give the best you can for their money.
Make them feel special (Offline)
Whenever they do their first pull-up, muscle up, first double-under or achieve a PR make them feel special. Cheer them up, clap and give them attention. This is the magic of Functional word, this is what people want, and they want it more and more. This is why people choose Functional and not any other sport and you must not forget that as the owner. I know it is difficult to do it every time and after tens or hundreds of clients. However, every single one is important and the same as the first one. I have seen many boxes losing their passion, consequently members felt betrayed and left the gym although they used to be loyal customers.
Each individual comes to the Box with his or hers personal emotional baggage. The secret to success is to relieve all of their stress for an hour or so. It might be easy for the first couple of months but it is hard to keep the same amount of passion for years.
Make them feel special (Online)
Oh, the mighty power of the Internet! You cannot even imagine how powerful the web is until you use it correctly. There are so many options to maintain your client base online that I don’t even know where to begin. However, I will give you a few tips that you should implement right away. (Today, not tomorrow, you competition might already be doing all this things!)
It is no news that you will need a Facebook profile. But is your Box on Snapchat and Instagram? If your answer is NO you really have to get in the game again. You don’t want to fall behind but rather overtake your competition and do it FAST! If you are wondering why Facebook is not enough and it’s almost doctor’s order to be present on Instagram and Snapchat.
The two social networks are growing and they are growing fast. Do me a favor and ask your clients who has Instagram and Snapchat. I bet 70% of them will have Instagram and about 40% of them will say they are active on Snapchat. So why miss the opportunity for free marketing?
So how to take advantage of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to retain you clients base?
Imagine Facebook as a river with two banks – Private and Public. Never anchor on just one of them!
In the Private world of Facebook, create a group for your members, where they can post their PR or share the latest quinoa recipe with their fellow athletes. Thanks to such Facebook group they will not feel as a part of a community just when they are actually in the gym, but in their spare time as well. I advise you to be strict – group should be strictly private and limited to members only. Once a member leaves the Box, he loses his right to stay in the group.
You should create a public profile as well. Post accomplishments of your clients, share their pictures…and don’t forget to tag them! Not only will they feel special, they will find great pride if their picture gets likes and comments. It’s no quantum physics, but plain sociology – people like to feel they belong somewhere. I know it is a lot of extra work, but it is an important part of your business and can give you a competitive advantage.
Did you know that an average person has an attention span of approximately 8 seconds? That is why you need instant photos, instant filters, instant likes. Posting good pictures can be crucial for marketing your Box. Find a good photographer, either on your friends list or on yellow pages, to take professional pictures of your members. They will be delighted! Well, there might be some camera-shy people in your gym. Words like “Don’t you want to have pictures of when you were fit to show your grandchildren?” work every time!
The same goes for videos. Professional video will testify your quality. Again, people will repost your content and according to some studies we prefer videos to pictures. So, find someone with a camera and roll!
Want to attract those customers who haven’t been to the gym for a while? While snapchating, ask your customers who they long for in the gym. They will list those athletes who did not attend classes for some time. The absent ones will probably be back in no time once they hear they are missed by others.
Challenge your clients
Let’s admit it – despite the number of different WODs, Functional training can become mundane and predictable. So what do you have to do to break the routine?
Make team WODs: there is nothing more exciting and challenging than a team WOD. Who doesn’t love to compete with other people, especially when they are working in teams. It’s just too much fun! Not only will it be amusing, it will also give an extra boost to your community. Make sure that the teams are barbelld!
Turn warm-ups into games: athletes will say that warm up is the most boring part, so let’s turn this crucial element of training into something entertaining. Your clients will talk about all the fun they had with their friends. And you want them to talk about your gym, right?
Organize in-house competitions: What better way to challenge your clients than arranging a little competition? However, there is a catch. Competitions might have an opposite effect and drive people away if not done right. How would you feel if there were competitions every week and you would finish last every time? Yeah, I thought so! Make sure you have scaled competitions or even team competitions so even your weakest members have a chance to win and experience that feeling of accomplishment. Once they are hooked there is no return, you have a customer for life. You just have to be creative so everybody has a chance to win not just the one who makes the fastest FRAN.
Programming: I am no coach and I never said I was. But I do know something about Functional training and if the programming is bad and it doesn’t give me a personal challenge I am out.
Go out of the gym: This might sound a bit off, but why not challenge your clients and go in the mountains? You aren’t forced to stay in your Box. Make your clients feel something special. Hike a mountain or go for a bike ride and make them feel what a human body can do! I can tell you they will want more of that community and accomplishment feeling.
By now you should know that the community is the most important thing. But what does it really mean?
There is a saying in the Functional world: “Those who finish last are the ones that are cheered on the most”. And this is why functional training is so special. You always cheer the ones who finish last. And those who finish before the last one will help to cheer them too. This is what people outside of this world don’t understand and this is what keeps people coming back, this is the famous “community”.
So do whatever it takes to keep the community strong.
Organize barbecues, trips, seminars, cheer your clients at events, follow them on social media, support them at real life events etc. If you will do all of the above, no one will leave your Box, I can you guarantee you that.
So now that we have learned how to retain your current client base we get to the point where we need to grow our box with new clients. Please, follow my advice and first take care of your loyal clients and then start acquiring new ones. The cost of keeping current customers is much lower than getting always new ones!
Now than your Box is all sorted out and your loyal members keep coming back, it is time to find new devotees. Here is how:
How to get new members Online:
Look for additional value when buying equipment
Spend the money for your new equipment wisely. Some suppliers like KingsBox will not only provide you with quality sports gear, but also take care of your online marketing. What’s more, they will help you organize competitions, sponsor your athletes and lots more. So why not take advantage of this and start strong from the word go? Not all sellers will give you such a treatment and you’ll have to spend around 1000$ to cover those expenses. Plus, KingsBox already has 14.000 Italian followers on Instagram, more than any other profiles in Italy, with no fakes.
Virtual mouth to mouth advertising
Remember those loyal clients that you – thanks to our advice – treat so nicely? Well, all of your patience with them will be repaid a thousand times. Your clients are no aliens, they use social media and they post PRs, first pull ups, Box picnics and bike rides. His or her friends will see the posts, too and sooner or later they will get interested. It’s free marketing with a large reach among your Facebook friends and your clients Facebook friends… the list could go on and on.
Social media profiles
In the first part we learned how to use social media to keep you customers, now we will take a look at how online profiles help us attract new customers.
When it comes to Facebook, you should post at least one public picture or video per day. So gather all the photo materials you have and send them into online orbit. Do not forget to tag people on pictures as you go! The same goes to Instagram.
Let’s close our eyes and imagine for a little bit. You post a picture of a Snatch workout saying “Alex just made a new PR of 70kg!” Don’t just tag Alex, but also Alice who is sweating in the back and Marco who already finished his WOD and is now cheering the others. Locally, your post will go viral. If 200 of Alex’s, Alice’s and Marco’s friends see it, your mission for the day is done. How will this bring you new clients, you wonder? People can’t help themselves but question why is it so special when someone makes a new PR or make a pull up for the first time and they will want to discover it sooner or later. Be creative – post interviews with your clients, publish some of your accomplishments… Basically, post content that your friends will share or repost!
Facebook also gives you the possibility of payed Facebook ads. They are a powerful weapon but cannot be covered in a paragraph – stay tuned for a longer article on the subject!
How to get members offline:
At the beginning of the new season most of gyms offer a free class or a set of lessons to excite new clients. Since all Boxes are doing it, you’ll have to be pretty special to win customer’s attention. Here is what you should do:
Get personal: it’s important to get to know your clients on an individual basis, although you only have one free class to do it. Allocate time after class to talk to each client one-on-one. Discover their problems and reasons for joining a gym. Do they suffer from a lack of motivation? Do they want to look their best for an upcoming event? Find out what they’re looking for, and then make sure you communicate how your gym will empower them and help solve their problem.
Incentivize: Offer a special discount on your regular fees and tell attendees that the discount is only available to those who sign up on the day of the free class.
Make a Follow-Up with structured offers: Make sure you take contact details – phone number, email – and follow up personally with each client within seven days. Some clients will sign up after they have chatted with you on the phone, others will need additional motivation and encouragement to join. Clients who are price conscious are more likely to be persuaded with a discount.
“You + Friend” deal: If you need to boost your numbers, offer a special deal where two friends can visit your gym at a discounted rate (2-4-1, buy one get one half price). It’s a good way to get additional people through the door and consequently increase your revenue.
Trade Services with Clients
If you’re trying to save on marketing expenses, trading services with clients can be a great way to upgrade your promotional materials.
Since you know your clients well, reach out to those who have skills that can improve your business image. Find someone whose hobby is photography or who has IT knowledge to build your website. One of your athletes could write an article for the local newspaper. In exchange for their effort, offer them free classes.
- Seek Out New Audiences
How often are you and your business exposed to new audiences? The more people who see and hear about your business, the greater your chances are of acquiring new clients.
Networking groups, companies, and service groups are all good places to find new audiences. Talk to your friends who work in these sorts of organizations and get them to put you in contact with event coordinators. Offer to host a talk on fitness and focus on issues that are pertinent to the group you’re speaking with. For instance, how can a company make their office healthier on a day-to-day basis? How can office workers with sedentary lifestyles integrate fitness into their busy schedules?
The point here is to avoid going in with a hard-sell approach. Offer valuable information and you’ll gain exposure, build credibility and attract new clients.
- Host Classes Outdoors
Imagine this: you hold a couple of classes outdoors in a crowded park or near a busy forest path. Choose an appealing WOD and you’ll have some curious passer-by’s asking you what’s going on. Make sure you have some flyers or business cards on hand.
There are over 400 boxes in Italy alone, and it’s common for multiple businesses to co-exist within the same city. While this is great news for the growth of the industry, it can change finding new clients into an intense competition. However, I do believe that following the above mentioned steps will help you succeed!