The 10 Best Blogs for Fitness Club Owners to Follow

In today’s fast-paced Fitness industry, keeping up with the latest trends can be difficult for club owners whose main focus often lies with their members. Whether it is how to increase gym memberships or taking advantage of new customer engagement strategies like SMS marketing, fitness club owners need a reliable place where they can keep up with the industry and their audience to better serve their community.

With this article, we are going to share of the 10 best blogs online that are trying to help fitness club owners navigate this unique time of competition and digital marketing. Our hope is that with these resources you will be able to create a better customer experience for your community and help them achieve their fitness goals. Let’s get into it.

fitness club owners

Diversifying your expertise

Before we begin our list, we wanted to quickly clarify why we have chosen these blogs for fitness club owners to follow. It comes down to a simple philosophy: diversifying expertise. Each of these blogs and online resources are built around serving the various segments of your customer base. By keeping an open mind and learning about the wide world of fitness, you will be able to reach an even larger base than you may have previously considered.

Once you understand this audience, then you can deliver value to them through mobile marketing efforts and offer an exceptional experience. If you can do this, not only will customer retention be much easier to accomplish, but new customers will want to find out what makes you different. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the list.

1. Mark’s Daily Apple

The first blog that fitness club owners should be following is Mark’s Daily Apple, a nutrition blog with something for everyone. While the main focus of this blog is dieting, Mark has articles on stress management, strength training, family health, and more. We recommend staying up to date on this blog in order to have better, more fruitful conversations with your members about what they are eating and how it translates to achieving their goals.

2. Lift Big Eat Big

As the name states, Lift Big Eat Big is a site dedicated to strength training and body building, something fitness club owners likely have a basic understanding of already. However, the LBEB community is a great place to dive deeper and learn more about nutrition, programming, and tacking on mass. Part of diversifying your expertise means going more in depth in areas like this that may only matter to part of your audience, but that means it should matter to you.

3. The Franchise King

On the other side of the coin, the Franchise King run by Joel Libava is a good starting place for fitness club owners wanting to learn the ropes of gym ownership. Not only that, but Libava has articles with new franchise and investment opportunities, helping owners expand their brand. We recommend following this blog for insights that don’t bog you down with technical language and help you run a better business.

4. Breaking Muscle

Next on our list is Breaking Muscle, a must-read for fitness club owners hoping to help their clients with strength or endurance training. Written by experts from their respective fields, there is something on this site for just about everyone. Whether you are learning yourself or need material for your members, this is a good place to start.

5. ACE Fit

The American Council of Exercise is one of the best places to keep track of the latest trends in the fitness industry. Often your customers will need help understanding these recent trends, so make sure you are staying on top of what gym members are excited about by following ACE. Without the best information, you can be doing both yourself and your members a disservice.

6. Club Industry

For fitness club owners wanting to better understand the fitness industry as a whole, Club industry is a wonderful one-stop shop for everything from tips to news to fads. Additionally, CI does a good job of breaking down the latest gym management technology, allowing owners to find what works best for them and apply it to their own business.

7. New York Times Wellness

Although the NYTimes wellness blog is not specifically for fitness club owners, operating with the resources of one of the world’s best known publications allows writers to provide excellent insight. If you own a gym, this should absolutely be part of your blog list for nothing more than the fact that your customers are likely reading the same articles.

8. IDEA Health and Fitness

One of the largest online fitness professional communities, IDEA health and fitness has something for every fitness club owner. While you will need to create an account in order to participate in the online forums, we recommend it as it will allow you to discuss common issues with other pros. Likely, you will have many of the same issues and hopefully will be able to discover solutions that work across the wide spectrum of fitness offerings clubs provide.

9. Fit-Pro

Need help with personal trainers or looking to grow your business? Fit-Pro is for you. Leaning more to the ‘how to run a fitness business’ side of things, this is a wonderful resource for trainers and club owners alike. You can also meet others and share ideas on different forums like IDEA, but with a more focused approach.

10. Gleantap

Finally, our last blog for you to follow is actually our very own Gleantap blog, specifically our work with fitness clubs. We know that customer retention and SMS marketing can be game-changing for our fitness club owners, which is why we are continuously creating content around these strategies and technologies. Check it out and subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you never miss the latest!

Final thoughts

As we spoke about at the beginning of this article, fitness club owners can benefit greatly from learning more about their customers and diversifying their expertise. Each of the 10 fitness blogs listed above are good starting places for you to take your fitness business to the next level. We hope that you will take advantage of these resources and help create a healthier, fitter future for all!


5 More Tips for Skillfully Collecting Customer Feedback

In 2018, the best way to serve your customer base is to find out what their needs are and do your best to provide a valuable solution to those problems. At its core, this is what customer retention marketing is all about. However, without the right tools and tactics for collecting customer feedback, it can be difficult to know what those needs are and the best way of fulfilling them.

Back in January, we put together a post on customer feedback and how to reach your audience in order to gather insight. With this article, we are going to examine 5 more tips for skillfully collecting customer feedback to further round out this incredible important part of the marketing process. Before we begin, let’s first quickly review why customer feedback is so important in the first place.

If you haven’t already read 7 Best Practices for Collecting Customer Feedback, read it here.

Why customer feedback matters

As we mentioned, collecting customer feedback is one of the best ways to understand your audience, but what you might not realize is that there is more to it than that. For a long time in the world of marketing and advertising, brands have tried to build trust with customers through promotions and other gimmicks. However, what we are realizing now is that customers want to be asked about how their experience can be improved.

By simply asking customers their opinions and collecting customer feedback when they provide it, you are establishing a relationship that is beneficial to both parties. The customers are able to receive a better experience from you, the brand, while you are able to better serve your ideal customers. If you can begin collecting customer feedback with this mindset, you will be putting your best foot forward when it comes to both customer experience and service.

Tips and best practices

Now that you have the right mindset for gathering customer insights, let’s go over a few different ways of collecting customer feedback with actionable goals in mind. Although you are attempting to establish a sound relationship, it’s also important to remember why you are requesting feedback in the first place. With this in mind, let’s look at tip #1 that deals with this exact concept.

1. Create surveys with detailed goals in mind

Our first tip for collecting customer feedback is to create your surveys and feedback exercises with specific, detailed goals in mind. Although these are tools that you are using to learn about your audience, you should have a certain level of knowledge going in that can guide your efforts to make sure you are receiving insight that is relevant.

For instance, if your customers are getting stopped up at a particular point in the customer journey, you can tailor the questions around that. This way, instead of being too general or even too specific, you can ask customers how your team is doing on guiding them through the process. This will give far more valuable and actionable items for you to add to your to-do list than a general survey.

2. Make it easy to provide feedback

Another way to collect customer feedback efficiently and with optimal results is to make it easy to provide feedback. While surveys are good, the average response rate for email surveys is roughly 24%, meaning you will need more than just email to get the job done well. Thankfully, there are a few different ways you can do about this.

SMS

While email has a notoriously low engagement rate, SMS Marketing boasts a 98% open rate, leading more marketers than ever to use SMS for customer feedback. In fact, you can use marketing automation to set up short surveys with your customers that feel like a conversation rather than a formal interview. Consider using SMS to make this process simpler and faster for your audience.

Comments and reviews

According to Zendesk, 30% of customers share positive reviews via social media, while 63% of consumers read negative reviews via social media. Not only does this show how important it is to stay on top of the comments and reviews you receive, but that you monitor these comments to make sure potential customers aren’t getting bad information on your brand. Customers will use these avenues whether you monitor them or not, so make sure you are on top of it.

3. Offer incentives

Despite your best efforts to reach your customers through mobile marketing and other feedback avenues, sometimes it can be difficult finding the engagement you are looking for. This is where offering incentives to collect the customer feedback you need can be the difference between good data and great data.

However, keep in mind that you don’t want to skew the information you are collecting, so make sure that you aren’t just paying random people to take your survey. Incentives like reward points toward your customer loyalty program are the best way to ensure you are getting helpful feedback from actual customers.

4. Track all customer interactions

Now, so far we have mainly spoken about collecting customer feedback through traditional means, but there is often an untapped way of gathering data on your customers you may not have tried yet: user engagement metrics. By tracking customer behavior, you can actually learn far more than a survey where someone knows they are being asked about your business. Customers may say one thing, but the data will often tell a different story.

The way to get ahead of this is to begin tracking all customer interactions. Everything from session time on your website to abandon cart rates can have open your eyes to areas of improvement for your customers. Don’t forget about these unique ways of collecting customer feedback when starting your campaign.

5. Ask consistently

Finally, our last piece of advice for collecting customer feedback, especially with surveys, is to ask consistently. We mean this in two ways: first, ask repeatedly for customer feedback. Like we mentioned earlier, surveys often have very low response rates, so it may take multiple asks to even reach your customers. But secondly, keep your questions and tone consistent when collecting feedback to get the best possible results.

Which brings us to our final thoughts: Remember why you are collecting feedback in the first place. As a marketer in 2018, it is your job to understand the needs of customers and then find ways to meet those needs with your product or service. Collecting customer feedback is one of the most effective ways to do this, so remember these tips and you will have a much better experience moving forward!


How to Optimize the Customer Journey at Every Step

In today’s competitive market, customers have more choices than ever before. Due to this, keeping prospects engaged through the customer journey all the way to conversion has become more difficult, which is why more brands are choosing to optimize each step of the process. By acting as a helpful guide along the way, you can engage with customers in meaningful ways and create an exceptional customer experience.

With this article, we are going to break down the customer journey and show you how to optimize each part of the process. Our hope is that you will be able to create a well-oiled customer retention machine that brings in new customers and provides value at every point. That being said, let’s first discuss exactly what we mean when we talk about a ‘customer journey.’

customer journey

What is the customer journey?

Put simply, the customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. However, like customer personas and segmentation, this doesn’t need to be a perfect view, but more of a fictional idea that you can then base decisions off of. That being said, both personas and the customer journey should be based on actual data.

Now that you know what the customer journey is, the next step is to begin mapping out each step of the process. As you do this, you will be able to see things from a large perspective and then focus on each area and how you can offer a better customer experience along the way. If it helps to think of the journey as a funnel, that is perfectly fine, as the same rules apply.

With this image in mind, let’s look at the first part of the journey i.e. the top of the funnel.

Establish a robust online presence

The first step in most of your customer’s journeys will be finding your brand through some form of online advertising. In order to cast the widest possible net or have the largest opening to your funnel, establishing a robust online presence will be a necessity. Thankfully, with the wide array of digital marketing channels available, this has never been easier.

Tools such as social media and having a mobile-friendly website will help make sure that you are making yourself easy to find. You can take this a step further by optimizing your branding so that customers know exactly what you provide and don’t have to look far in order to get in touch. Like we mentioned earlier, part of improving the customer journey is being there to guide them through the process.

Use good design to open the door

As you begin to establish yourself online, more customers will begin to interact with your business. This first impression will be vital to earning their interest and keeping them engaged throughout the customer journey, so invest in good design to open this door. According to BCS, a user’s judgement of the credibility of a brand is 75% based upon aesthetic quality, meaning you should be doing everything you can to improve this.

Not only can well-planned design help make the right first impression, but user experience and customer experience are very closely linked. By employing UX design principles across the customer journey, your customers will understand how best to engage with you. This is one of the best assets for you to have when attempting to earn their business.

Plan out touchpoints

So far, we have spoken about ways to bring in more customers through good design and online marketing. However, once they are on the customer journey, you still have work to do in order to move them forward from a prospect into a customer. Along the way, there will be different touchpoints where you can meet and engage your customers. By planning these out early in the process, you can begin to optimize them for the best performance.

For instance, if a customer takes a next step and requests additional information, you can send them a quick SMS message with the exact info they are looking for. This sort of marketing automation can be the difference between a conversion and letting a lead slip through your fingers. Be sure to look into SMS marketing for providing value to your customers efficiently and effectively at every point.

Take advantage of opportunities

Now, once you have begun to plan out these touchpoints and receive interest from your prospects, make sure that you are taking advantage of these opportunities. Marketing, and mobile marketing in particular, is all about providing the right solution to the right people at the right time.

When customers reach out to you, they want you to impress them by meeting their needs in a timely manner. By not pursuing these opportunities, you are shooting yourself in the foot and missing out on potential revenue.

Track everything

Another essential part of optimizing the customer journey is to track everything along the way and then use that data to continuously improve the process. User engagement metrics and analytics will be essential here, as many marketers have to alter their approach once they review how customers actually interact with the brand. This is a perfectly normal part of the journey, so don’t worry, just remember that data-based decisions are always recommended.

Convert and sell

The final step in the process is what the whole customer journey has been building up to: converting and ultimately selling them your product or service. The good part is that if you have already optimized the process, this is simply the next logical step. The problem is that far too often brands fumble the ball right here at the goal line. Our advice is simple: ask them for their business.

Unless you are straightforward in asking that they convert, they likely never will. However, by spending time establishing yourself as a helpful guide, this will come from a place of trust and not appear salesly. Whether you do this through email, over the phone, or through calls-to-action is not necessarily important. You just need to remember to take the chance and ask them to join. If your customer journey is working, they won’t have an issue saying yes.

Final thoughts

As a business owner trying to lay out your customer retention strategy, it can feel as if losing or retaining customers is out of your control. Our hope is that by reading through this guide, you will be able to have a better understanding of both the process and your control over it.

Remember, this is going to be a constant quest to better the experience of your customers, so as long as you are working on it, you are on the right track. Now, what are you waiting for? Start optimizing today!


Fitness Club Spotlight: What Gym Owners Can Learn from Planet Fitness’s Success

As the global fitness industry continues to grow, there is an increasing number of competitors entering the field with various offerings catering to a wide range of customers. Each of these brands must find the right customer retention strategy in order to maintain a solid member base, which will vary depending on their offerings. One brand that has seen continued success in recent years is Planet Fitness, the low-cost franchise that has changed fitness forever.

With our Fitness Club Spotlight series, we take a look at exceptional fitness clubs in order to see what knowledge can be Gleaned from their success. Today, we will take a look at the history of Planet Fitness, what has set them apart, and what gym owners can learn to improve their own offerings from PF’s success. However, before we talk about their strategy, let’s go back to the beginning when Planet Fitness was just a struggling gym in Dover, New Hampshire.

planet fitness

Where it all began

Back in 1992, brothers Michael and Marc Grondahl acquired a fitness club on the edge of collapse. In order to save the gym and compete with better known brands, the pair reduced prices and decided to focus on occasional and first-time gym members, rather than more experienced fitness types. When this began to catch on, the Grondahl brothers and then front-desk worker Chris Rondeau recognized that there was a great opportunity to create a non-intimidating, low-cost model. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the 26 years since its founding, Planet Fitness has grown to 1500+ locations across the U.S. and Canada and changed the fitness industry forever. By focusing on the needs of customers and keeping costs low, PF has become one of the most recognizable names in Fitness and only continues to grow. And Chris Rondeau, the once front-desk worker, can now be found at the position of CEO. All of this began with a simple idea to create a new type of gym.

A new type of gym

Planet Fitness soon realized that there had been a need in the market for a new type of gym. As they began to cultivate a less judgmental company culture, Planet Fitness only continued to grow. There was something about the idea of keeping the gym to just the necessities that resonated with their audience and soon this focus on customer experience would pay off.

As this approach began to gain traction, larger brands would begin to take notice. After all, when Planet Fitness members can get the same workout at a lower cost without the expensive overhead of amenities like pools and basketball courts, you might begin to wonder if those are really necessary.

Low costs

In fact, in order to keep costs low, this was the approach that the Grondahl brothers would take early on. Instead of investing in more gym equipment, that may or may not pay off, they were taking the money that would have been spent and putting it back into growing the business. This is something Chris Rondeau refers to as their ‘marketing machine,’ but more on that later.

Essentially, Planet Fitness has been able to secure themselves in the market as the low cost option by investing their extra cash flow into bringing in new customers. Then, they let their unique culture and fitness offering do the rest when it comes to customer retention marketing.

Meeting the needs of customers

For many gym owners, the question becomes ‘How do I increase gym memberships?’ A lesson that can be learned from Planet Fitness is that the best way to both gain new memberships and increase customer loyalty is by meeting the needs of customers. The original Planet Fitness team understood that there was a need to provide a low-cost, less intense option for fitness and 26 years later this still holds true.

When you are planning out your own marketing campaigns, it is worth remembering this simple lesson. While Planet Fitness has been able to make money off of their model, there may be a different model already out there that is yet to be taken advantage of. The best way to understand these needs is to ask your audience and then make the necessary changes. Sometimes it really is that simple.

Continued success and the ‘marketing machine’

Now, earlier we spoke about how Chris Rondeau refers to Planet Fitness’s approach as a marketing machine, but let’s talk about what that means. According to him, for every new member that joins, 9% of that revenue goes directly to marketing and fueling the next member join. Not only does this cut down on customer acquisition costs, but in an industry with such a high churn rate, bringing in new members is essential to staying relevant.

That being said, there comes a time where you hit the threshold of what you are capable of doing in regards to retention just based on your product or service offering. This is why marketers today, especially those in the fitness industry, are putting their focus into customer engagement and experience.

Customer engagement

In today’s market, both current customers and potential prospects can benefit from customer engagement. With so many different digital marketing channels, brands can reach their customers like never before. However, there are countless other companies competing for the same online real estate, meaning that you need to be as engaging as possible to make it worth your while.

This is why Planet Fitness and others have sought out customer engagement platforms in order to better serve their customer base. Tools like SMS marketing can not only help customers remember to keep up with your brand, but can position your brand in their head as a trusted advisor. Like we mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to help customers is by providing them with value that can meet their needs. SMS and other engagement strategies can help here dramatically.

What we can learn from their success

By reviewing the history of Planet Fitness and the success they have had, it’s clear that they are doing something right. In order to better serve your own members, there are a few key takeaways that can be gathered from the success of PF, including:

Listen to your customer’s needs: Planet Fitness understood that customers wanted something different. They have been able to make a name for themselves by providing that exact thing.

Do more with less: There is a time and place for flashy, showy products, but that time is quickly become less often. Customers want a good experience from a brand they trust more than anything, so give it to them.

Invest in your customers: The best way to keep loyal customers around and attract new prospects is by investing in your customers. Don’t forget that they are the ones who got you where you are now.

If you are able to take these lessons from Planet Fitness and apply them to your own industry, brand, or business, you should have less issues with customer churn in the future and a loyal base on which to build your business. And don’t forget the ‘judgement free zone!’