When boutique fitness studios consider themselves “Boutique” ... FOUR easy solutions to upgrade your Clientele’s “Boutique” Experience.
I consider a boutique fitness studio to have a specialized workout, additional amenities (products and maybe showers), and above par hospitality amongst staff and instructors. The latter is the most important, since “Boutique” spaces are not large gyms but a more intimate way to reach your clientele and start a dialogue.
Boutique: A small business that serves a sophisticated or specialized clientele.
One order of specialized attention please!
So why are studios continuing to serve a sub-par experience and still call themselves “Boutique”? When does the specialized factor go down the drain?
To me it’s consistency. Are the owners and managers consistent in keeping up standards? Are they holding weekly or biweekly meetings to discuss client and staff interactions? Are they listening to clients needs? These considerations come from a personal background of both working and teaching in the boutique fitness culture for about a decade. I must share a moment I had the other day that made me want to write this blog.
The elevator opened up to the fourth floor, her shoulders were hunched over, and her baseball cap covered her eyes. I had arrived about fifteen minutes early. I gave my normal toothy smile, and without even getting a “Hello” out of my mouth I was quickly asked, “Name?” I brightly replied, “Was wondering if you had space….” Again, without being able to finish she replied, “Yea, what’s your name?”
My first reaction to any interaction is you never know what someone is going through. However, over the span of the following fifteen minutes before class this continued with other ladies. It no longer seemed like human interaction but a conveyor of “Name, name, nameee??” I wonder if this happened all the time or was she just having a bad day? She had a brighter personality when casually talking to the instructor, so at this point I’m assuming it was by choice to greet in that fashion. Now don’t get me wrong when someone is already signed up and they are a regular and/or rushing in the door, maybe that’s the way to do it? However, I feel when someone opens a dialogue it is one’s responsibility representing this “Boutique” studio to make someone feel welcomed. Or at least use full sentences, right?!
When you are paying $41.80 for a “Boutique” experience, the last thing I want to walk in on is an individual who makes me feel undermined. To me when a class is at that price point every interaction should be smooth or at least friendly. I have written out a few points below that I feel are important in creating a genuine interaction.
These check points might be a no brainer to some but surprisingly they are the most common things I have been witnessing amongst the NYC fitness scene. In the words of Beyoncé, “Lemme upgrade you!”
FOUR Easy Solutions to Upgrade your Clientele Experience
1. Body Language- Whoever is at the studio entrance, make sure to sit up tall or if you’re standing, stand tall.
This is HUGE. Not only can body language portray confidence but allows the client to immediately walk in and think, “Hey I can totally go to this person if I have a question…” or, “ This person seems to know what’s up I don’t mind handing them my credit card.” It is welcoming and says you know what you’re doing! You also become a vital role in this person’s experience so know that you are valued and an integral part of that studio.
2. Listen- Every client has something to offer a studio, give them your undivided attention no matter how many people are signing in. Whether it is their first time or 91st time, listen to what they need!
This is also HUGE. Even if it is for only two minutes, when someone feels heard they will feel respected and supported. Therefore they will come back for more. When you listen without judgment, remember what I said earlier, you never know what someone’s day has been like, you also have an opportunity to really answer their question with the most efficient solution in that moment.
3. Smile- The universal symbol that says “HEY! We’re about to connect and I’m literally welcoming you!”
To me this is the best thing ever besides what happens next. People say, “Fake it until you make it” but I say “Act it until you are it!” There’s nothing worse than smiling when you don’t want to. Example: You just broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, you lost your necklace, you watched a YouTube video of puppy mills…horrible….the worst! However, if you are truly present at your job I’m sure you can muster some type of smile and try to leave personal stuff at the door. I promise even without verbiage someone is grateful for you aiding in their transaction towards a healthier life.
4. THANK YOU- be courteous to all.
A simple thank you goes a long way! Some one signs a receipt…”Thank you.” A couple shows up for the first time to try your studio… “Cool thanks for joining us today guys.” Someone had the worst time in class… "Wow, thank you so much for telling me about your experience. Will definitely let my manager know right now, and comp you another class.” It’s polite and professional, done. I also don’t mean say it every other sentence! That’s even worse when someone sounds scripted. But do make sure to slip a “Thanks” in somewhere. Having the same tone you might talk to a friend with, in conjunction with your courteous manners, are a recipe for awesomeness.
Take these and implement them! Have consistent meetings and make sure these things are happening amongst staff & instructors.
In 2015, the fitness industry had about $81 Billion in revenue (IHRSA Article). Without a doubt it’s a great market to join. This generation is about investing in the experience so it is definitely worth it to invest some profit back into your staff with consistent trainings. The minute someone walks through the door it is your job to create an authentic impression. If you can start with these four easy steps I have a good feeling you will see an increase in clientele.
Can you say a happy client equals a returning client?