Targeted studios are the young guns of the fitness industry. As a small fitness center owner or manager, you have to respond to their potential threat, or they may figuratively eat your lunch. This type of fitness business represents a significant threat to the conventional gym model. But there are actions you can take as a small fitness center owner or manager. Read on and I’ll explain how.Father and son with backs to the camera flexing their biceps

If you have a small conventional gym with a small selection of group classes or no classes at all, you must start considering how to fulfill members’ needs. Be prepared to respond when members’ curiosity is peaked by the new and trendy studio down the street.

So Who Are These Targeted Studios?

Targeted studios are those like the Crossfit, Pilates, yoga or TRX studio that just moved into the storefront that’s been vacant since 2007, a few short blocks away from your gym (at least, that has been my experience in Las Vegas). Nothing’s wrong with what targeted studios are doing. It’s just that they sometimes end up as competition. There are some powerful strategies to prevent or deal with the risk of losing members. It really does help if you have thought your strategy through before the inevitable confronts you.

The large national fitness center chains are pretty resistant to this sort of attack. It’s always much tougher for the little guys. Small conventional gyms don’t have the resources to compete by replicating the services of targeted studios. You can only really respond with your smarts and some thinking ahead. That means developing some contingency plans to handle membership cancellations when they come. If you have a general understanding of the local competition, which you’re likely to lose members to, plan out what you are going to say when it happens and give your front desk staff procedures for escalating impending cancellations.

Make sure you get as much information as they’ll share and be ready to think on your feet with the answers you give.  If members want to drop out in favor of a studio offer the ability to freeze their accounts (recurring billing will be postponed and their member price rate will be locked in for three months), while they try out the new Crossfit studio down the street to see if they like it.

Stretching and Rolling With The Changes

Email marketing is another subject altogether, but try to maintain correspondence with the leaving member, whether by continue to check in with them via email or through your list. By all means, don’t automatically unsubscribe them after they decide to go. Hang on to any avenue of communication that’s available.

Don’t assume it’s going to work out over there on the other side. Leave the door open so that when the remorse kicks in, there’s nothing in the way of their joyous return. Reach out with an offer where they get a better rate if they return sooner. Whatever happens, be patient, give them a good month and a half to see if they prefer the new place.

Start to network with the owners of these local targeted studios. Seek out partnerships with neighboring studios to offer dual membership options (this can be done if a discount is given for signing up at both places with a direct 50/50 split of the profit to each facility – no matter which facility is used “more” than the other).

How effective is your gym management software at supporting the latest trends in service? The right software will help you to gain customers, support their membership experience and, crucially right here, help you keep that vital contact when they have left. Very often that gentle reminder may be welcomed and lead to an opportunity for renewed membership, as they realize on their own that they want to return. Using Insight will help you interact with your clients and stay in touch when they aren’t attending any longer.

And Now For Some Tough Love To Motivate You

There are always going to be new threats to your business. It’s not limited to fitness centers; the entire economy has the potential, these days, to change overnight. A new form of technology or a social trend causes people to change their behavior. A general example would be Blockbuster Video, remember them? How about Tower Records? These two are now textbook case studies in how the market place can abruptly change and business moves elsewhere. There’s no guarantee, even for what appears to be the strongest business model today that they’ll be here tomorrow.

Many of the elements of change are based on technology. Services do play a very important part as well, though. People are constantly dreaming up imaginative new ways to deliver services, attract customers and ride the trends. That’s not a problem, but you really do need to make every effort to join in. Try to think ahead and anticipate trends. Take an interest in the local studios and try to network with them with the goal of collaboration. Remember that prepared, practiced responses are the most effective way to get the best outcome, not just for you but the whole fitness community.

Over to you…

What other ways can targeted studios and gyms work together to benefit one another?

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