10 Ways to Differentiate and Grow Your Fitness Business

Male Trainer with Female Client
Using a person's name three times during a session is one key to providing good customer service.(Photo by Thinkstock.)

Competition is tough in the fitness industry, and coaches and training studios everywhere are overlooking the best way to differentiate their fitness facilities and win.

What’s the No. 1 thing you can focus on to build, sustain and thrive? Customer service.

Sounds crazy, right? Wrong.

In today’s world, the human touch is almost a thing of the past. Although technology may have its benefits and automation could save time, nothing beats a person-to-person experience.

However, it’s not ok to just try to have a person improve their customer service skills. Sure, that’s important, but you must have a system behind the service to ensure that it can be repeated again and again by you and everyone on your team.

Here are the top 10 things that have set my company, Method3 Fitness, apart from the rest in a highly competitive Bay Area market:

1. Set up a missed client protocol. We take attendance daily. If you are a private training client, you’ll get a call and/or text and email immediately if you don’t show up for an appointment. If you are a group training client, we take a snapshot of the week. If you don’t show for a week, you get an email. Two weeks? You get a phone call. Three weeks? You get a “we miss you card” in the mail. Four weeks? We’ll call your emergency contact on file. Your investment and your results mean something to us.

2. Say "My pleasure." How many times have you heard someone say “no worries” or “no problem” when telling a client they are happy to help?  Get rid of the “no” and start saying “my pleasure.” It may feel odd at first, but you’ll get used to it, and it goes a long way with your clients to show them you are at their service.

3. Know and use names. Everyone likes to hear their name. Show how awesome your service is by trying to say everyone’s name three times when they show up to your session. This is our goal at Method3 Fitness. That is easy enough in a private session, but it can be more difficult in a group. Try to greet them when they come in, during the workout and when they leave.

4. Give form correction and technique. Yes, you can show an extra level of service just through form correction and technique. In my opinion, true and proper queuing –visual, verbal and tactile – is almost a lost art. Be thorough and show them why you are worth the investment.

5. Employ the 48-hour rule. If you say you will get back to someone in 24-48 hours, then do it. Even if your response at that time is just to say that you need more time to get them the answer they need. This is a big one.

6. Master internal communication. The bigger your team grows, the more you must master internal communication. Nothing allows you to truly serve your clients and make them feel attended to better than when everyone is on the same page. If you do team training, how awesome is it when you can meet a client for the first time and already know everything about them, their health history, their injuries and current training programs because your teammate took copious notes ahead of time?

7. Send motivational emails. Stay in touch with your clients via email and give them some extra motivation, show them some love with some shout outs, and give them some great content to keep moving forward on their health and fitness journey.

8. Create a private Facebook group. Take your service online and start a private Facebook group for all of your clients. Not only will it help create more community, but your clients also will feel like you are helping hold them accountable and supporting them even when they are not in your studio.

9. Send out surveys. At least once a year, survey your members and ask for their feedback. You may not always like what they say, but it gives them a chance to be heard, and it gives you a chance to be better and improve how you operate and get them results.

10. Have your members rank you. Listen 360 is a great add-on that we use for our membership software to get our members to rank us on a scale of 1-10 in terms of whether or not they would refer you to a friend. Find one that works for you. For us, anyone who ranks us 8-10 gives us great information and kudos to share with our team to reinforce their actions. Anyone who gives us less than an eight gives us an opportunity to follow up and find out what we can do to help make their experience more enjoyable and help them achieve even better results.

There you have it. My top 10 things that helped drive my fitness business from zero revenue to over seven figures in just over five years. Is it a lot of work? Yes. A lot of time? It can be. But trust me when I tell you that our level of service completely differentiates my studio from any other fitness studio in my area. And I believe that if we keep getting better at our service, it will not only keep Method3 Fitness in business, but it also will help us grow and thrive. Go implement the three things you can do now, and I guarantee you that it will help your business.


John Heringer is the chief motivator of Method3 Fitness, a fitness studio in San Jose, California, and the founder of Striveapp.io, an online results tracking software for fit pros to help their clients achieve their goals. Heringer has been in the fitness industry for more than 13 years and loves sharing insights into leadership, marketing and what it takes to build and sustain a purpose-driven business. Since early 2010, Heringer has built Method3 Fitness to a seven-figure business with more than 350 clients and a team of 10 individuals dedicated to changing lives, one person at a time. Heringer also provides content for the Association of Fitness Studios.

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