We’re excited to host guest author, Kate Simmons, Executive Director of Wundabar Pilates, for this post!

As Pops always said, “Tip up front—you’ll get excellent service!” When you front-load a relationship or interaction with your generous best, you demonstrate your confidence, and set yourself up for a positive, lasting relationship with those in your community. Give someone a sample of your service for free, ideally they fall in love with it and become a client. There’s your win-win. Practical and simple, right?

Beyond winning over new clients, however, there’s a much deeper application of the concept of community. Nine out of ten Friday evenings, we go to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant because they treat us like family. Open the door for someone whose hands are full, and tell me it doesn’t put a smile on both your faces. Whether you’re interacting with another person, a giant corporation or a local family restaurant, there’s a theme—we’re attracted to comfort, common ground and belonging. That sense of belonging is one of the deepest, most universal human needs, and community is all about belonging. It’s more than just good business sense; it has a sincere and deep impact.

While community classes offer a way to connect with potential clients and deliver your generous best to your community, how do you find the balance between doing good and giving away the store? Get specific. The first question to ask yourself is, “Who will benefit from our service?” Make a list of all the folks you want to help—do you cater to athletes? Dancers? Body builders? Fitness fanatics? Adrenaline junkies? Moms and dads? Students and teachers? Working professionals? All of the above? Great. Now it’s time to go about tailoring a class that’s right for them.

Here’s an example: If you know that working professionals would benefit from your service, but you don’t see them in classes, offer a weekday, lunchtime community class to anyone who works at surrounding businesses. Teach the class yourself, or have a senior member of your team teach it, so that you connect with these folks, develop relationships with them, and learn what they want and need—and then give it to them! While you have them in the studio, offer them a special price on a package that speaks to them specifically, like a 10-pack of weekday lunch hour classes.

Another way to build community outside class is to partner up with your local fitness apparel companies—like Lululemon or Athleta—to serve as evangelists for your workout. If you’re located near one of their stores (and here’s a hint: you should be), go shopping. Develop relationships with the management and staff and invite them to a free, team-building class at your studio. Afterwards, leave a stack of cards with a special promo code for their clients. Now, the folks who sell workout gear to folks who wear workout gear are touting the greatness of your workout, and putting your card in every bag. The opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing are invaluable and you cement yourself as a leading fitness outlet in the community.

Proceed with caution: some studios use community classes to try out a new instructor or test a new class format. Draw a big red circle around that idea and put a line through it! Inviting the uninitiated community at large to be test subjects is dangerous. If the experience is in any way sub-par, these new folks will never come back and pay for your service. Worse yet, they’ll tell their friends. Instead, for tests like these, invite only long-time, existing clients, and ask for their feedback (be prepared for lots of feedback). You honor your clients by asking them to be the first to try something or someone new and soliciting their feedback. These folks already love you and they’ll likely tell you the truth. What’s more, through the experience, you’ve demonstrated your commitment to them as clients, and solidified their investment in your studio community.