Opening a boutique fitness studio? Avoid these pitfalls.

1 October 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

So you want to open a boutique fitness studio?

It’s a beautiful vision- a fresh white studio, lotus flower incense oozing through the air and lilac yoga mats patiently awaiting the pitter patter of eager yogi feet. Running a boutique fitness studio sounds like a dream, but the tight profit margins and tough competition can feel like a nightmare.

Fitness with a price tag is the trend of the moment, so there is a big market for your plans. There are many success stories you can turn to for inspiration, but not so well documented are the struggles and sleepless nights of running a boutique fitness studio. If you want your business to be a viable source of income, then there are a few things that you should not do.

Don’t copy your competitors

This is a highly saturated market. If a city dweller wishes to attend a Vinyasa yoga class, there are a plethora of studios he can attend. It is perfectly fine to deliver classical methods in tried and tested formats, but you should always push a niche.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but your studio should stand out- be it through atmosphere, teaching style, class delivery or studio ethos. Why are you, the business owner, the best person to open up another studio. What ideas and expertise can you deliver that no other business in your area is offering? Figure out your unique selling point and push this through every element of your branding.

Don’t take shortcuts

The core part of your sales will come from online bookings, so you need to be sure that the system you use is, first and foremost, reliable. It is not hard to come by booking software that is visually pleasing, but it is rare to find one that moulds to your business’s unique requirements and is consistently dependable.

Don’t run your business old-school style

The fitness industry is now run off data feedback and clever algorithms. By tracking data through your booking platform’s dashboard, you can determine exactly how popular your business is and with whom. Yes, you could stand at reception and take note of the age, gender, race, the occupation of every client that walks past, but now your booking system can do this automatically.

Why does it matter? Because you now know the types of people that like your business and market to people just like them. Is there a specific group that seems to be missing? Adjust your marketing strategy or class offering to draw in new types of customer.

Not only can data benefit the running of your business, but many studios are taking into the workouts themselves. Students love discovering stats- discovering how many calories they have burned, their heart rate, how their output compares to others. Including data technology in your workouts encourages healthy competitiveness and student engagement. These motivational tools keep students on track to achieve their fitness goals, all the while boosting your retention rates.

Social media- and in particular Instagram– is a golden marketing tool for visually appealing boutique studios. You want to upload video snippets of classes, promote special offers, share snaps and instructor interviews on your pages.

Don’t jump to join ClassPass

ClassPass has been wildly successful. There is no denying that it has opened doors and put more people into studios. It served as a marketing tool, making its thousands of users aware of your brand. For many studios, ClassPass served as a try-before-you-buy model, with a selection of students successfully migrating over to studio membership, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

ClassPass has monopolised the fitness industry, Many studios have decided to ditch the platform that undercuts their prices and squeezes their margins. Experiment with your own marketing plan- utilizing SEO, referral scheme and social media- before diving headfirst into the competitive ClassPass marketplace. As soon as you join the platform, your members devalue your service, comparing every single element with that of other studios- an impossible race to win.

The aim should always be to earn appreciative, loyal members. Loyal members are more likely to buy your other products, like smoothies, apparel, merchandise. They are more inclined to recommend your service to friends. One loyal membership is worth a hundred casual drop-ins.

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