As the year winds down and the holiday parties crank up, I encourage you to carve a little time for yourself and reflect upon this year. Visualize what you wish to transpire in 2017. They say it’s about the journey, not the destination, yes? As I get older I am starting to understand more of what that euphemism really means. It may appear a small thing to do one thing for your business every day, but over time these things add up. Before you know you it, you’ve created a body of work that is your selling card to prospective clients.
As a small business owner and Pilates instructor, I find great irony in the desire to grow your business and have a full teaching schedule. When I am teaching the close to my maximum hours per week, I find it challenging to find time to focus on the big picture of my business.
Not to mention fatigue and, less time for personal workouts and study with other teachers to keep your creativity and cueing vocabulary alive. Alas, we need to plan time into our weekly (or at the very least monthly) schedules to check in with our long-term goals. Here are ten ways to boost your business.
1. Hone in on your niche. Make a list of your clients and take note of their demographics. Gender, age, socioeconomic level, marital/parental status, their interests, and what motivates them. Perhaps you crave a demographic you do not currently have in your stable. The more specific you are about your ideal clients, the easier it is to visualize and attract those people. You may have a few niches, as most of us tend to become really great trainers to a specific type of client or athlete. And that’s good news, as you can simply get really good at delivering your brand without trying to be something you are not.
2. Think outside the box. Are there events in the community you can get involved with that may introduce new people to your brand? Perhaps local races for non-profits that you could rent out a booth and offer stretching to participants? Or a service project that trainers from your studio could do annually that includes members/clients? The key is the community and getting involved.
3. Continuing Education sparks the imagination.
Fitness and wellness are consistently evolving, and to be a top-notch trainer and business owner it is vital to keep being a student yourself and learn from the masters. Continuing ed is a great opportunity to go deeper into a particular area that interests you too if you want to specialize in a certain population. Learning fresh verbal, visual and tactile cues keeps you from becoming stale in the way you get clients to understand movement.
4. Build relationships in your community.
Know thy neighbor! Personal referrals are more genuine than a review online. If you do not have a big marketing budget then people need to know your business is worth checking out. During slow times of the year (summer for instance), you can team up with a neighboring business to create a package for your clients. This hopefully sends new clients to both of your businesses. For example, a few years back I teamed up with the massage business in my building to offer a Pilates/massage bundle that was a good price for the client and gave an incentive to get people to come in during the slow months of July and August. Creating relationships with businesses that have similar products or services but are not direct competition is imperative to keep new people coming in.
5. Outsource tasks that suck up your time to pros.
Delegate tedious tasks that do not require your expertise but drain your time and energy to other professionals such as a bookkeeper or personal assistant. Even hiring someone 5-8 hours a month could save you many more hours in tasks that are not second nature to you. This allows you to focus on the global aspects of the business. Automate class and session reminders through a service such as MindBody, Front Desk or Zenplanner. You pay a monthly service fee, but it takes the confirmations off your plate, sends them out automatically and clears up any confusion regarding scheduled appointments and classes. New clients can also find your gym/studio on one of these sites, raising your presence.
6. Diagnose your online presence.
Make a list of all platforms that list you and your business online. Google your business and see which website pops up first. Next, search your specialty and your neighborhood. Do you appear on the first page? If not, you may want to invest in someone who can increase your SEO. (search engine optimization) Yelp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are all really useful for different purposes. You can also schedule posts on Facebook if you know you will be training at the optimum hour you wish to post. Let your members and clients know you are on Yelp. Consider a client contest for those who check-in through Yelp and Facebook to increase movement on those pages.
7. Curate your social media platform.
It no longer is an option to be on social media if you are a small business. It’s an effective way for current and potential clients to connect with you outside of the studio. A photo is worth a thousand words, especially a great one showing off your business in action. Videos are even better. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of social media is not to constantly “sell yourself” but to be a voice in the community – share tips, creative approaches to exercises, and also to get information out like new classes or highlight new instructors. Create a schedule and plan to ensure you are posting regularly and creating the right image for your business. To delve deeper into a strategy, check out this article from Entrepreneur.
8. Keep client attendance consistent.
It seems obvious, but you need to get your clients and students in the gym/studio on a regular basis for two important reasons. One, once they are committed not only will their bodies physically feel and look better, but their enthusiasm will stay high. If they only get to the gym a few times a month, it’s a signal that your fitness programming is not a part of their life. We want clients who are committed. Two, the more they visit, the more they purchase new training series, which increases your bottom line. Similar to getting a free drink at Starbucks after so many points, some studios have punch cards for students who get x amount of classes in within a period of time, then get a free class if they make that goal.
9. Determine the parts of your business that build revenue, eliminate ones that don’t perform.
It is always good to take an honest inventory of what is and is not working in your studio or gym. Examples are trainers that consistently bring in clients and ones that are not delivering. Also look at classes that (perhaps due today and time) are too under-attended to turn a profit. If you are a sole proprietor it may be a good idea to bring in a trusted colleague to help you weed out the underperforming areas.
10. Client referral programs
This is likely a common way you have already acquired new clients. Satisfied clients recommend services and classes they enjoy and want to workout and spend time with their friends. Rewarding these clients with a free class (or a percentage of their next membership fee) for bringing in a new client goes a long way. If your desire is to attract clients in a certain demographic, then understand that “birds of a feather flock together.” Above all else, never take clients for granted. Nurture your client relationships and make sure you are truly present in every session.
And don’t forget to take a day off every once in awhile! Get outside, have some fun and clear your head. Returning to your studio rested and refreshed will do wonders.
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Andrea is passionate about the ability of Pilates to change lives. Andrea has studied movement her whole life. Prior to teaching Pilates, she danced professionally in New York and South Korea and has choreographed for musical theater, music videos & feature film. Andrea’s eye for detail and precision keeps clients focused and consistently challenged while having a fun workout! Andrea lives in Santa Monica with her husband Roberto and daughter Veronica.
To connect with Andrea and take advantage of her offerings, please visit www.andreawhitepilates.com
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