December 4, 2023

Tips to Improve Client Retention at a Pilates Studio

Get the knowledge you need to become a successful Pilates studio manager. Explore this article to find the best practices for success.

Tips to Improve Client Retention at a Pilates Studio

Running a successful Pilates studio takes more than just great instructors and equipment. To nurture relationships with clients and improve retention over time, studio owners and managers need to focus on the entire customer experience from start to finish. Here are some best practices for managing a Pilates studio with client retention in mind:

Prioritize customer service

Excellent customer service is essential for any small business, especially Pilates studios. Clients choose to spend their time and money on private or group sessions, so you want to ensure they feel valued and respected during every interaction. Some specific tips include:

  • Hire instructors and staff who have warm, inviting personalities. Clients will pick up on negative or indifferent energy.
  • Train all staff and instructors on providing top-notch customer service. Set clear expectations for polite, attentive communication.
  • Greet every client by name and with a smile when they walk in the door. Take an extra minute or two to chat with them as well.
  • Respond promptly to all calls, emails, social media messages, and other inquiries. Set a goal to reply within a 2-4 hour window.
  • Resolve any customer complaints or issues as quickly as possible. The faster you can turn around a negative situation, the more likely you will retain that client.
  • Send a personalized email or text after class thanking them for coming. Include any helpful tips or reminders from the session.
  • Make clients feel special by remembering personal details and following up on them. For example, wishing them luck before a race they mentioned or asking how their knee rehabilitation is progressing.

Send personalized thank-you notes

In addition to prompt and friendly customer service, take the extra effort to send handwritten thank you notes. These can be for new clients, birthday reminders, holidays, referrals, or even just because. The personal touch of a handwritten note shows clients you genuinely appreciate their business and are invested in the relationship. Some ideas:

  • Write welcome cards for new clients telling them how excited you are to work with them. Include tips for getting started.
  • Send thank you notes after referrals or when clients purchase package deals. Consider including small promotional items like water bottles or headbands.
  • Mail birthday cards signed by all the staff to make clients feel special on their big day.
  • Send holiday cards around seasons like Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine's Day, or New Year's.
  • Show appreciation for loyal clients by sending a thoughtful note after they've been with your studio for six months, one year, or other milestones.

Suggested resources to support client goals

Demonstrate to clients that you are truly invested in their wellness goals by providing personalized resources and recommendations. For example:

  • Put together a list of your favorite healthy recipes or meal planning tips and email it to clients who want to improve their nutrition.
  • Recommend fitness trackers, workout shoes, yoga mats, or other products you trust to help clients reach their goals.
  • Suggest wellness-related books, podcasts, or social media accounts that align with clients' interests—for example, mediation resources for stressed clients or postpartum Pilates resources for new moms.
  • Curate a list of other local wellness businesses like massage therapists, acupuncturists, or healthy cafes that clients would benefit from. Offer discounts for referring new clients.

The more value you can provide, the more indispensable your studio becomes to clients' daily health and wellness. These thoughtful extras show you care.

Increase the value of sessions

In addition to stellar customer service, Pilates studio owners should consistently evaluate ways to increase the perceived value of their services. Higher value encourages existing clients to attend and purchase more sessions. Here are some ideas:

Group sessions/classes

While private sessions allow for personalized attention, group classes offer a fun sense of community. Consider offering:

  • Group mat Pilates classes at different difficulty levels appeal to beginners and advanced students.
  • Specialty group classes like prenatal Pilates, Pilates with props or Pilates Sculpt focusing on toning.
  • Complementary group classes like barre, yoga, high-intensity interval training, or stretching.
  • Ladies' nights or date nights with Pilates classes + extras like cocktails, chocolate, and wine tasting.

Group classes allow clients to invite friends to try Pilates. They'll meet new people and have an energized experience.

Discounts for purchasing packages

Offer tiered discounts when clients purchase multiple sessions at once. Packages increase retention by incentivizing upfront purchases and lowering cost per session. Consider packages like:

  • New client specials like 30 days unlimited for a discounted price
  • 4, 8, or 12 session packs
  • Session passes that expire after 3, 6, or 12 months to encourage regular attendance
  • Unlimited monthly memberships with discounted rates if clients pay for 3, 6, or 12 months upfront

Make it easy to purchase packages online and frequently promote them via email, social media, and within your studio space. Packages with expiration dates drive attendance.

Incentives for referring new clients

Encourage current clients to refer friends by offering rewards when they bring in new business. For example:

  • Offer one free session for every new client referral
  • Enter clients into a drawing for a free massage, gift cards, or merchandise when they refer someone
  • Provide a discount on their next package for every two referrals
  • Reward referral milestones like a bottle of champagne for five referrals or a month of unlimited Pilates for ten referrals

Make sure clients know how much you appreciate referrals by calling them out and thanking them when new clients mention their name. Highlight incentives frequently.

Promote your studio

In addition to optimizing the client experience and perceived value, Pilates studio owners and managers should actively promote their business through diverse channels. Marketing and advertising are essential for attracting new clients and staying top of mind with existing ones. Ways to promote your Pilates studio include:

Generate buzz with social media

An active, engaging social media presence allows Pilates studios to strengthen connections with current clients and reach new audiences. Ideas for social media success include:

  • Post pictures and videos highlighting what makes your studio special. Showcase instructors, clients, results, equipment, amenities, and your brand personality.
  • Share Pilates tips, inspirational quotes, wellness advice, healthy recipes, and other educational content. Make social media informative.
  • Host contests and giveaways like "tag a friend for a chance to win a free private session." Offer ticket giveaways to local charity events.
  • Leverage Stories on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at daily life in your studio. Stories feel relatable.
  • Run targeted Facebook and Instagram ads promoting new client discounts and offerings—geo-target ads in your local area.
  • Collaborate with wellness businesses, instructors from other disciplines, nutritionists, physical therapists, etc., to co-create content and cross-promote.

Create a positive reputation

Manage your studio's online reputation by encouraging reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites. Respond professionally to any negative feedback. Offer incentives for leaving reviews, like entry into a monthly drawing for a free session. Make reviewing your business part of the signup process for new clients.

Host community events

Hosting special events at your studio is a great way to get current clients excited about bringing friends and exposing new audiences to your brand. Ideas include:

  • Partner with local businesses and offer giveaways and promotions—for example, a charity yoga event with donated juice from the local juice bar.
  • Hold workshops or clinics led by well-known instructors or experts. They'll draw existing Pilates fans from around your city.
  • Organize community classes like Pilates in the park, family Pilates, or Pilates & puppies (with adoptable dogs from a local shelter). Offer big discounts.
  • Celebrate holidays and events with fun, themed classes like Halloween Pilates with costumes or 80's 80-themed classes with throwback music and attire. Make fitness more playful.
  • Host an open house to showcase your facility, allow trial classes, offer special deals, and mingle with prospective clients. Provide food, entertainment, prizes, and more.

Creatively engaging with clients and community members helps reinforce the value of your Pilates studio and build meaningful relationships that translate to loyal customers and brand advocates.

The value of building client relationships

While marketing, promotions, and programming are undoubtedly important for Pilates studios, prioritizing customer relationships is the key to retaining happy, loyal clients over time. Clients want to feel valued, respected, appreciated, and encouraged. Make customer service a priority, take an individualized approach to exceeding expectations, demonstrate that you care about client well-being, and actively promote an engaging brand experience. By doing so, your clients won't just attend classes; they'll feel like they're part of an uplifting community. Focus on nurturing this community, delivering an exceptional experience from warm greetings to follow-up notes, and your clients will keep coming back for more.

Customer retention is the key

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What are the most relevant factors to consider?

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Don’t overspend on growth marketing without good retention rates

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What’s the ideal customer retention rate?

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Next steps to increase your customer retention

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