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Five Customer Loyalty Tricks for Fitness Franchisees

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As a fitness franchise owner, you know very well the challenges of getting new members through the door, even in the best of times. It’s never been easy, but the fitness industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, with value brands representing the largest share of losses in the industry. Major gym franchises like Gold’s Gym have filed for bankruptcy protection, and others may soon follow. Polling has shown that as many as 60% of Americans either have canceled or are planning to cancel their gym membership due to financial hardship or concerns about safety. Simultaneously, the growth of digital and at-home fitness products has added to the pressure on gyms, with Peloton doubling its sales in 2020. 

So, in that environment, how do you get new customers through the door and convince your existing customers to remain loyal? We can start by taking a cue from one outlier in the value gym segment that has shown more resiliency than its competitors through the pandemic. The Anytime Fitness franchise has rolled out a comprehensive COVID-19 policy to protect their members’ and staff’s safety and begun offering advance reservations to secure a spot when capacity is limited. When customers have confidence that you are genuinely looking out for their best interests, they are more likely to remain loyal.

But beyond just building trust among your members, there are some other things you can do to encourage customer loyalty in this most challenging of times.

Loyalty Rewards Program

Have you ever noticed that it seems like every store you go into wants you to join their rewards program? Well, there’s a reason for that – it works. Create a rewards program for your loyal customers with some nice little freebies to help keep them engaged. This might take the form of a free t-shirt after ten visits, or maybe a free post-workout smoothie with every 10 purchased. You can get very creative with this, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Never underestimate the power of free swag for customer loyalty. Everyone wants to feel special.

Frequent Customer Discounts

Many gym members, particularly in the value segment, care just as much about the size of their wallets as the size of their jeans, so giving them a discount on a product or service is a great way to boost customer engagement. This might be a discount on a personal training session within the next month, or possibly a coupon for deals on gym apparel. Gym apparel is a particularly desirable thing to encourage because, in addition to the revenue from the sale, you get the added benefit of free advertising for your fitness franchise every time the customer wears it.

Three women stand besides each other at a gym

Referral Rewards

Let’s face it – we all have that one annoying friend who can’t stop going on about how great his or her fitness studio or workout program is. Well, that’s exactly who you want to be your customer, so you need to create a compelling reason for that person to be your customer. Create a referral rewards program and offer a membership discount for each new customer brought in on a referral. You’ll soon find your membership roster – and your bottom line – growing steadily.

Premium Memberships

Take a cue from companies with the most loyal followings and offer VIP or premium membership packages. Do a little up-selling. The key here is to create a value proposition that’s compelling enough to entice your customers to pay a little more without eating into your bottom line. If a member is already paying $30 per month for a basic membership, he or she would probably be willing to pay $35 or $40 to add free tanning or a free monthly workout with a personal trainer. It can be tricky to find the right balance for your package, but this is a great way to reward your most loyal customers if done right.

A man holding onto rings tries to beat a record for a gym contest

Run Contests

Contests can be a great way to keep your members engaged with the club and create valuable rewards for members who participate. You might run a contest with a free gym t-shirt or duffel bag to the member with the most visits during the month, or possibly a “Biggest Loser” type contest with a free month of membership as the prize. You can also incorporate social media into your content strategy by encouraging people to share, like, and comment on your content. Give members who complete one workout and check in on Facebook during the next month a raffle ticket to a drawing for a free duffel bag or another prize.

Focus on Your Core Business

Business owners are notoriously bad at time management, spending too much time on things that others can do and not enough on what an owner should be doing – growing the business. Offload time-consuming administrative tasks to employees or an outside firm. Consider outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting, which is one of the biggest time vampires in an owner’s day. By getting those off your plate, you can have time to spend on thinking up creative ways to engage with your members and drive loyalty at a time when you need it most. 

 

So what’s the best way to boost customer loyalty at your gym franchise? Start by taking your own gym’s advice and just do it. Set a goal and commit to seeing it through. Start with these tips, but don’t just stop there. Be creative and come up with other ideas, and then let us show you how Xendoo can help your fitness franchises become more profitable with a free trial. Let’s start building that customer loyalty muscle together!

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Micro-Influencers and Small Retailers: A Perfect Match

We’ve all seen A-list celebrities endorsing mega brands and stores. This marketing strategy’s price tag (up to $1 million for celebrities like Kim Kardashian) is far beyond the scope of most retailers’ budgets, but there’s another way to get in on the endorsement bonanza: social media micro-influencers.

Social media influencers

They are people who have gained popularity on Youtube, Instagram, or other social media platforms. With the followings in the 6 or 7 figures, what they say about you can have a significant impact on your sales figures and brand awareness.

The top social media influences are so famous that their endorsement fees now rival those of Hollywood stars. What’re more, studies show that the larger the influencer’s following, the LESS effect his/her endorsement has on marketing results. That’s because the followers are such a diverse group of people that the product being endorsed just isn’t relevant for many of them.

Micro-influencers

These are the people who cater to a tightly focused niche, either of subject matter or location or both. They have fewer followers, but a higher percentage of those followers are your potential customers. They still have personal credibility; their opinion is as highly valued as a friend’s. And their endorsement is affordable, usually well under $1,000. For small businesses, it’s a perfect solution.

Find your micro-influencers

  • Run your own searches on social media.
  • Reach out to internet personalities you already follow. (Find their contact info in the channel’s “About” section.)
  • Ask existing customers who they follow.
  • Invite proposals from influencers on exchange platforms such as FameBit.
  • Use a talent management agency.

Analyze the influencer’s performance.

  • How relevant the content is to your brand.
  • How often and consistently content is posted.
  • How much the audience interacts with the channel.
  • How often content is shared.
  • Channel’s growth rate.

Analytics companies such as OpenSlate can help with this.

Strike the deal.

There are many ways to compensate an influencer besides money:

  • Provide them with exclusive content, i.e. behind-the-scenes access or sneak previews.
  • Cross-promote them on your store’s website and other marketing channels
  • More audience engagement through giveaways, contests, etc.

By strategically selecting and working with micro-influencers, small businesses can engage with a highly relevant fan base at an affordable cost. And their ROI will probably be better than what the big box competition gets from hiring Kim Kardashian.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Are Your Competitors Getting Ahead of You? How to Find Out

No matter how small or unique your niche, you have competition. These businesses are offering the same or similar products and services as you. The question is, are they doing it better than you?

That’s why every business needs to do a competitive analysis on a regular basis. You need to know who your competitors are, and how successful they are compared to you. An overview of what they’re doing differently may show areas where you need to improve, or where you should change your business strategy. It can also reveal their mistakes and weaknesses, giving you insight on what practices to avoid.

Let’s get started.

Who are your competitors?

First, list businesses that offer the same or similar products and services as yours. If you’re a realtor, this would include the other realtors in your area.

Then, think about businesses with different products/services but who are competing for the same customer. For example, the customer who wants to go out for an evening’s entertainment may choose a restaurant, nightclub, or movie theater.

What is their relative size?

Rate your competitors according to sales volume, number of locations, and so on. Where do you stand in comparison?

What is their USP (unique selling proposition)?

Analyze how each of your competitors differentiates itself from all the others. It may be lower prices, better customer service, faster delivery or unique designs.

How are they achieving their USP?

Look for specific techniques or processes that they use — and maybe you can imitate — to get their competitive advantage.

What do their customers think of them?

Check out online reviews about the quality of their products and services. Also, listen to word of mouth. Are they very well known and trusted because they’ve been in business for a long time? Are they seen as innovative and up-to-date because they’re making a big splash on social media?

How do their operations work?

Find out their pricing, order process, and delivery process. Does it work better than yours?

How can you get a competitive advantage?

Now that you have a clear idea of how and why your competitors are succeeding (or failing), you can look for ways to differentiate yourself. These might include:

• Patent or license: Your business is the only one that can produce that product.
• Exclusive distributorship: Your business is the only one that sells a particular brand.
• Secret process or recipe: Competitors can’t duplicate your results.
• Customer experience: Your large competitors can’t give such personalized attention.
• Lower costs: You can give customers the same product/service for less.

How open is the market to more competition?

The bigger success you are, the more people will want to duplicate it, and ultimately take away your customers. Are you in a growing niche where there’s an opportunity for more such businesses to move in or startup? Or is the market mature and saturated?

How well protected is your USP? Would it be easy for a newcomer to use your same idea, design, recipe, or process to produce the same or better products?

In a free-market economy like ours, competition is the name of the game. Knowing who your competitors are, their successes and failures, and how you stand in comparison to them, will go a long way toward helping you win that game.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How Small Retailers Can Win Big Over Mega Stores

Cutthroat prices, huge inventory, massive advertising bucks — a small retailer is bound to feel like David going up against Goliath when competing with the big chains. But, like David, you can win the battle. The trick is to fight it on your ground, not theirs.

Leverage localness

We are located in South Florida and every winter we see our chain store branches offering cold-weather gear, even though it’s rarely needed in our climate. Large national chains are by their nature generic; it’s virtually impossible for them to offer any local flavor. You, on the other hand, can tailor your merchandise mix to the specific tastes and needs of the people in your area.

Stress quality and value

There’s no way you can beat the prices of your big-box competition. So go the opposite route and offer products that are made well and will serve a customer’s needs for years. They cost more but give greater value than an item that fails within a few months of purchase.

Promote uniqueness

Seek out products from smaller manufacturers that won’t be found in big box stores because they can’t meet such large orders. Customers love having alternatives to the mass-produced merchandise that’s the same from one chain to the next.

Help customers find you in local online searches

There’s no way you can top the search engine results page for nationwide searches. But you can use local SEO strategies successfully. They are actually weighted in your favor because Google will penalize any business that sets up multiple website pages for every one of its locations.

  • Create a Google Business page (or check the one you already have for completeness and accuracy)
  • Make sure your location appears on every page of your website
  • Direct inbound traffic from search engines to a location-centric landing page on your website (your address, phone number, store hours, location map)
  • Display links to other local businesses and organizations on your website

Connect with the community

Build customer awareness and loyalty by getting involved with them.

  • Host or participate in community events
  • Contribute to local charities
  • Sponsor a local sports team
  • Form strategic partnerships with complimentary local businesses
  • Invite local social media influencers to visit your store and sample your merchandise

Deliver superior customer service

You have the advantage of one-on-one relationships with your customers, which no big box store can equal. Provide a memorable experience by making them feel recognized, comfortable, and cared for where they shop.

Big stores will always be big players in the retail scene. But small retailers can reach local customers on a level above and beyond what national chains can do. Those are the ones that will survive and thrive.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

3 Great Cash Flow Ideas for Retailers

What do a used book store, garden nursery, and boutique clothing shop all have in common?

No, this isn’t the set up to a joke. Unfortunately, all three types of businesses are at risk of failing if their cash flow isn’t in good shape. According to the Small Business Administration, “inadequate cash reserves” is a top reason small businesses close their doors for good.

So whether you sell novels, shovels, or dresses with ruffles — if you’re a retailer, cash flow is king.

What exactly is cash flow?

Think of it like a checking account. Cash flow looks at all the money coming in and out of your business each month. If there’s more coming in than going out, you’re in the green! If you’re spending more than comes in, read on. That means your cash flow is negative and your business could be in trouble

Here are three simple ways to get your cash flowing in the right direction.

1. Bundle products

If you sell several accessories apart from your core offering, try packaging them together with a small discount. This can also be an effective way of clearing out dead stock while creating goodwill with your customers, who feel like they’re walking away with a great deal.

2. Understand the risks of discounting

If you do decide to bundle products or offer another type of sale, make sure you know exactly how that will impact your bottom line. You should know the profit margins on every product you sell and your overall cost basis – it’s the only way to determine if you’ll break even with the sale or take a loss.

3. Encourage repeat business

Offering perks or freebies to returning customers helps create loyalty and makes it easier for them to choose you over other options. Go old school with a punch card, get creative with a contest, or print an offer on receipts that are good for a future purchase.

If you’re struggling to determine the state of your cash flow, it could be time to call in for some backup. With Xendoo’s suite of affordable bookkeeping and consulting services, you’ll be able to spend more time at the “cash-out” bringing the cash.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Social Proof: A Must-Have in Service Business Marketing

Testimonials from satisfied clients, positive reviews on Yelp, numbers data, professional association logos — these are all that marketing experts call social proof, and they are an excellent way to gain the trust of prospective clients. While they are successful in many industry sectors, they’re especially so for retail service businesses which rely heavily on reputation and word-of-mouth.

Here are a few tips for making social proof work for you.

Use effective testimonials.

A couple of sentences saying that everything was great aren’t very interesting — or convincing. Choose ones that:

  • Mention a specific benefit the client received. “I looked so good at the class reunion that my old crush never took his eyes off me.”
  • Answer a question or potential objection. “They really captured the spirit of my wedding with their candid photography. Worth every penny!”
  • Include keywords that people would put into Google when looking for businesses like yours.
  • Include the name and photo of the person commenting — much more credible than a stand-alone quote.

Monitor the review sites.

They are a great source of testimonials. Even more important, you need to stay current with what people are saying about your business — good and bad — so you can nip any problems in the bud.

Present numbers/data proof compellingly.

Unless yours is a volume- or speed-driven business, people won’t much care that you “served over 15,000 clients last year.” However, they will be intrigued to learn that “25 clients are getting a buff body right now.” This combines a benefit with the number, showing how your success empowers the client’s success.

Display professional recognitions.

The social proofs mentioned above all come from the client’s peers. This type of proof comes from a respected authority. You could use:

  • Logos of professional associations you belong to
  • Awards you’ve received
  • Media coverage you’ve received
  • Better Business Bureau logo

Social proofs in advertising and marketing are not just effective, they’re cost-effective. Many of them are even free. That’s great news for any business with a finite marketing budget. And what we’ve discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg. In future articles, we’ll cover how to obtain social proofs, how and where to use them, and how to measure their success in attracting new clients to your business.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Getting Back to Basics: 5 customer engagement strategies for health and wellness business owners

When it comes to fitness, sometimes it’s important to get back to basics before tackling more difficult exercises. And it’s exactly the same in business. Making sure your customer engagement strategy has a strong foundation that gives you and your staff the tools they need to tackle more complicated issues and strategies down the line.

Customer engagement is every touchpoint your business has with a customer. Offline or online. Proactive or reactive. The number of ways you engage with customers is nearly endless.

As a franchise owner in the health and fitness space, how you engage with customers can make or break your business. Here are five simple ways to improve customer engagement and grow your business:

Keep it simple

Make it easy for consumers to contact you the way they prefer. Don’t hide phone numbers or email addresses unless you have a very clear communication strategy pointing them in another direction. Also, make sure your contact info is consistent across all platforms.

Let your staff exercise their voice

Empower your staff to truly serve your customers. When front-line staff, whether in-person or virtual, have the ability to address concerns and make good on mistakes, you decrease the chances of problems escalating and resulting in a nasty review online.

Get results…and rewards!

Reward loyal customers with perks and offers that make it easier for them to choose you over other the competition. Think about implementing a rewards program that keeps them coming back time and time again.

Don’t be afraid of a little resistance

No matter how small an issue, or how wrong you believe your customer to be, respond to every concern as quickly as possible. Whether the comment came in person, over the phone, via email, or through a harsh review – tackle the issue head-on fast. You’ll save a customer and likely gain more in the process.

Keep up your (social) reps

Carefully managing your online communities is no longer optional. Make sure you have staff dedicated to monitoring your social media channels and responding to positive and negative feedback. Responsiveness shows onlookers that you care about your customers and will go the extra mile.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.