Earning loyal, quality customers seems simple. Create a good product, attract the right people, keep them coming back for more. But any studio owner will tell you that establishing a devoted customer base is anything but simple.

Melissa Chang and Brooke Tigh, co-owners of Studio Barre in Carmel Valley, California, say it took several trials to really tap into what they needed to do to keep the right customers coming to their studio—and coming back.

The most crucial thing to know upfront is who you’re after. While social media may seem like a hot place to invest a lot of time and energy, Chang says that they learned their client base wasn’t reacting to that.

“A lot of our clients are not social media savvy. They don’t check in, they don’t post,” she says. “Social media works for us, but it’s not the only thing.”

The tried-and-true tactic of word of mouth can work offline just as well as it can on. While Chang and Tigh use social media for contests and information, they rely on newsletters and in-studio activities to draw people in. Once they hosted an interactive baseball contest where clients moved around bases as they took a certain number of classes.

“Interactive games that take our clients back to grade school and recess makes people come more. It’s all about rewarding people,” Chang says.  

Good customer service isn’t a reward, though. It’s standard, especially for Studio Barre. That’s why Tigh says their focus is on making people feel like they’re at more than a workout.

To accomplish this, they train their front desk staff to know everyone’s name and be especially personable while paying close attention to detail. Again, it’s something that sounds super simple but is hard to execute well. The more a person feels welcome and recognized at a studio, the more likely they are to keep coming back.

No matter how clients come to find the studio, they focus on offering them a safe space to try something new. When it comes to ClassPass clients, who can be overlooked by studios who think they’re only there for the deal, Tigh and Chang are passionate about making sure they’re comfortable and treating them like any other potential client.

“If there’s someone new we set them up next to another person who comes often so they don’t feel lost or excluded,” Tigh says.  “We let them know exactly what they need, and during class the instructors are really good about saying someone’s name. Also, the instructor pulls the mic away when they need to correct something so everything that’s said over the mic is positive.”

The co-owners also keep class packages and offerings at a relaxed level, Chang says. They’re not too “in your face.” Instead, they send a welcome postcard in the mail, which is a nice, personable touch in our world of constant emails.

“It’s pretty straightforward. There’s no pushiness on any front,” she says. “We try to sell them on a new client special but we feel icky pushing anyone into buying anything, especially right after class.”

The process doesn’t stop there. If a client has been missing from the studio for a while, they shoot over a casual email or text message letting them know they’re missed and inviting them to come back to the studio.

But it’s character and comfortableness—not pressure—that continue to grow the studio’s client base.

“We are the barre with the most personality and we want to make it really comfortable for anybody to come take class—whether they’re 21 or 51.”

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