Guest article by PAA Matwork Member, Ditta Zizi
Your clients are the most important part of your business. The Pilates business is all about tailored personal services. If you agree with these statements spend a few minutes thinking about how you are looking after your clients and what you can do to improve client engagement in this new and very challenging environment.
Since the introduction of social distancing measures the focus has been on protecting ourselves and our teams and how best to maintain services to clients. Staying connected with your clients is critical as many Pilates based businesses are now offering online service delivery with varying degrees of success.
At a very practical level there are a number of things you can do to improve client engagement. You might like to use the following as a checklist.
Have you communicated with your clients?
Many businesses sent out thoughtful and personal messages to encourage the take up online services. This needs follow-up once you have decided the message you want to give your clients. Think about the type and quality of information that will maintain your relationship and meet your client’s needs. Take time to decide what information you provide and remember that every business out there is doing the same. We are all spending a lot of time in front of screens, so remember that more is less. Have a look at Pilates Anytime and how they have modified their content to support Pilates professionals with a mix of webinars to help keep your business going and self-care.
Do you know your clients?
When was the last time you looked at your client lists, demographics, ons and offs, and how you communicate with them. This is a good time to look at what has worked and what you could do differently. I was recently speaking with a business owner who discovered that by looking at the client list they had focused on a very specific demographic. So, I asked the question – is this where you want your business to be or are there other opportunities that you want to explore. The answer was yes this is my niche so we set about developing a plan of what could be done to improve the uptake of online services and what to do in the future to get clients through the door once the restrictions are lifted.
My experience is that you may have a number of different client lists and the most telling one can be the lost clients. I know one business owner who was so concerned by the drop offs that they called everyone on the list. They discovered that the online offering had glitches that could be easily fixed.
How are you differentiating your services?
You can go online and get a lot of free personal fitness services right now. Some to get new clients, others are well meaning people who want to share. Be upfront about the professional services you are providing. Health and safety issues are just as important now and remember you have a duty of care to your clients. Let them know you are looking after them by offering the opportunity to provide feedback after each session. You can use software such as Survey Monkey and some webinar platforms have feedback options available.
What about your team?
Everyone is experiencing personal and professional issues. Demonstrate your willingness to provide flexibility and support by keeping in touch with your staff and discussing how they can stay connected to your business. Consider virtual meetings, providing virtual coaching or simply setting up a virtual coffee session. I am a member of studio where the owner keeps the instructors connected with regular webinars. It was a great opportunity for us to share our online experiences and I always leave the sessions feeling that I am still part of a great team that cares about one another.
How is the online service delivery going?
Think about contacting trusted clients to check how things are going at their end. Give them a call for some real time feedback. Keep your clients informed on your efforts to improve your services. This is really important. Just look at the way the supermarkets such as Woolworths are making a huge effort to be in regular contact with their shoppers. I know exactly what to expect when I go shopping there. I know lots of businesses are taking this on. Use this an opportunity to get valuable feedback. Remember to track how things are going– collect data on sessions, look at trends such as the times people are using services, and website and social media hits – and make adjustments.
How good is your technology and online presence?
At first mishaps and poor quality will be forgiven. It will not be long before clients will be looking for improved delivery. If technology and production is not your space, get professional help. Remember that your website and social media presence needs attention as well. While self-serve is the new normal, the choice of talking to someone should be part of your offering.
Are you looking after yourself?
Remember you cannot do everything yourself so get help. Prioritise the areas you are going to focus on and delegate everything else. Difficult as it may be, you may need to invest in buying services. This in the long run will be an investment in your business and will help you to keep your clients.