Most businesses put a significant amount of money into attracting customers – but what if the business put just as much, if not more, of its resources into retaining clients? Harvard Business School reports that increasing customer retention by five percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent. Focusing on client retention can alleviate pressure on attracting new clients by sustaining your profit and earning the strongest form of referrals for your business – word of mouth.

For the studio and gym owner, retention strategies are highly focused on the experience a new client has at your studio – in particular the quality of human-to-human interaction. Consider every new client that walks through your door to be the person 10 years from now that becomes an integral part of your success story. This new client’s personal progress could be the narrative you tell when asked, “Why do you own a fitness studio?”

What would it look like if your staff went above and beyond to encourage, in both subtle and overt ways, a new client to visit again?


People are most likely to remember their first impression or their last impression rather than what happens in between.

  1.     Warmly welcome
  2.     Casually inform
  3.     Be generous

First off, the obvious and often (sadly) missing consumer interaction: a warm welcome. Your smiling staff is the first to say hello before the client has two feet inside the door.

Train your staff to know the onboarding experience so well that they can smoothly weave important information (the new student waiver, studio etiquette, a tour of the facilities) into a natural conversation with clients. Mention the pricing options and give them the option to pay after class (more on this later).

It pays to be generous. Give your new student something for free. A yoga mat rental, loaner barre socks, a bottled water or access to amenities. The rule of reciprocity states that if you give, you are more likely to receive. Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist, reported that as little as 10 cents can create a relationship of reciprocity. If you hope that your first-timers will give to your studio by paying for more classes, you will increase the likelihood of a second visit by giving them something first.


Of course, what happens during class is incredibly important, but the funny thing about human memory is that it tends to remember the beginning and the ending of the experience. Essentially, if you mess up the first impression or the last impression you may never see that client again. Skip to class is out….

  1.     Get their name and number
  2.     Settle up and set up for the future
  3.     Simplify commitment
  4.     Be honest

It is as simple and as important as the warm welcome to get the name and number for your client. Address your client by name after class and ask them how the class was. Showing a genuine interest in their class experience will demonstrate that you value their presence. The client might reveal something that you can use to improve their experience and invite them back. For example, you can suggest another type of class that they can try next time based on what they liked about their first class.

If the student chose to pay after class, you have a built-in opportunity to encourage them to come back. Here’s your chance to talk about membership benefits and pricing options. By creating more touch points with your clients on their first visit, you are creating a higher likelihood of retaining them in the future.

Simple is best. Oftentimes, the membership conversation gets complicated with enrollment fees, “waiving” the fee, “special” offers, discounts for “today only” and false pretensions that the studio “only” offers memberships. Chances are, your new client is going to see right through these slimy sales techniques and the amazing experience they had during class will fade from memory.

Assume that your client appreciates honesty, just like you. Give it to them straight, and if your client explains that they cannot commit to a membership (yet), offer them something else to commit to, like a class package or a special rate on their first month unlimited. A new client’s commitment to come back to your studio is a win, no matter whether it’s on a membership or ClassPass.


You can improve your retention by following-up with clients once they have left your studio. The follow-up should consist of three pieces:

  1.     Send a thank you
  2.     Invite feedback
  3. Remind clients of their options

Thanking your clients is an important recognition that they chose your studio from a plethora of fitness options. In addition to thanking them, invite their feedback to demonstrate that you value their experience and truly want them to be a part of your community. Collecting feedback is a smart way to build and maintain a good business reputation because you learn about complaints first-hand (rather than Yelp or overhearing someone talking about your studio) and have an opportunity to replace a bad experience with a better one.

The thank you can lead into your invitation for feedback or your special offer, or all three can be woven together. A short note reminding the client of your pricing options makes them more likely to act on purchases in the future because information empowers and expedites decision-making. If the client did not purchase a membership or class package on their studio visit, you can incentivize them to come back again by offering a discount in your email.

There are many auto-email tools that you can customize including Mindbodyonline, SurveyMonkey, and Constant Contact. Listen360 is an excellent application where you can create simple feedback surveys that take only a minute for the consumer to complete. As the manager or owner of the studio you will receive the survey responses and have a chance to collect valuable information about client experience–and reach out to clients who gave a negative report. Listen360 and other services are a great way to keep a pulse on your client sentiments.

To wrap this up neatly, here is the checklist that you and your staff can work by to retain first-time clients. Print it and place it somewhere that your staff will see while they work to remind them to welcome every first-time client with open arms.

  1.     Warmly welcome
  2.     Casually inform
  3.     Be generous
  4.     Get their name and number
  5.     Settle up and set up for the future
  6.     Simplify commitment
  7.     Be honest
  8.     Send a thank you
  9.     Invite feedback
  10. Remind clients of their options

Caitlin Rose Kenney is a member of the Studio Happiness team at ClassPass in New York City. She’s a yoga teacher and former studio manager with a passion for professionalizing the fitness and wellness industry.