Growing a thriving community through technology

Danielle Easton
7 min read
Community is what motivates members in challenging times and keeps them coming back to your facility. In her latest post, Staci Alden of Alden Fitness Solutions reveals how you can use technology to maintain meaningful relationships with your member base—without having to take time away from other important tasks.

Community is what motivates members in challenging times and keeps them coming back to your facility. In her latest post, Staci Alden of Alden Fitness Solutions reveals how you can use technology to maintain meaningful relationships with your member base—without having to take time away from other important tasks.

Community is so much more than just many people in one place. The pandemic dramatically illuminated the ability to grow communities globally and even asynchronously. Community begins with a like-minded interest and grows with a sense of trust and belonging.



Community begins with a like-minded interest and grows with a sense of trust and belonging.

The fitness and movement space is sensitive and complex, especially for new clients. All clients need to find a space where they consistently feel seen, supported, and motivated. The right systems, tools, and people can help generate those feelings. Effective services, sleek equipment, and nice facilities are not enough to set your facility apart or create a gluelike stickiness that keeps clients around for longer.

When done right, gyms can pique the interest of not just any clients but ideal clients by demonstrating how their unique community is fostered and celebrated. Let's uncover the power of community, then reveal how having accessible and adaptable tech can foster community through four key client relationships that a client has with a fitness studio, namely:

  • Facility to client
  • Provider to client
  • Client to client
  • Client to self


Read on for a description of each relationship and how tech can help develop these relationships.

 

Facility to client

Clients' feelings and opinions are tested when they walk through the front door or log in for an online class. As clients become familiar with the business, policies, and processes, their trust and belonging must grow to stick around. 

Nurture the client relationship from the minute they walk through the door.

Here are a few ways your facility can nurture this relationship:

  • Invest in an app: Make navigating offerings and providers visual and organized. Ensure customizing the experience is easy with a dashboard that provides a snapshot of their reservations, profile, and potential interests. Check out TeamUp’s flexible and functional Custom Branded App to see what it could do for your business.
  • Set yourself apart: Ensure your app is customized to your brand's colors, images, energy, and language. 
  • Provide SMS messaging: Real-time communication about updates, promotions, and reminders. TeamUp's SMS notifications helps you keep clients in the loop at all times.
  • Allow calendar integration: When someone signs up for a class or service, give clients the ability to add the event date, time, and details to their calendar.

Community begins with a like-minded interest and grows with a sense of trust and belonging. All clients need to find a space where they feel seen, supported, and motivated.

 

Provider to client

Without the front-line team of coaches, instructors, admins, and other staff members, your fitness business might as well be a dusty forgotten treadmill. Making it easy for providers to assist clients and hear their feedback helps staff feel empowered and clients feel taken care of. Think when and how clients are in contact with and need help from your team. 

Make the relationship between providers and clients stronger.

Here are some ways to use tech to make the relationship between providers and clients stronger:

  • Encourage frequent feedback: Schedule automated SMS and email messaging to ask clients for their starred or numerical ratings and written suggestions after attending a class or using a service.
  • Offer a provider dashboard: Coaches and instructors should have quick access to their daily breakdown of information like schedule, clients, pay, and reviews. It would be even better to filter this information by time (day, week, month) or location (if you have multiple sites). 
  • Encourage provider-client messaging: Making communication possible within your facility app can increase engagement and bypass potential spam filters in email or text. 
  • Provide internal notes: Outside of direct communication, providers should be able to make notes on accounts to track non-health-related things like preferences (favorite bike, music, preferred gift card, etc.) or life changes (new puppy, birthday, daughter graduated, etc.). The personal touch of a provider remembering something about a client's life outside the gym is a profound way to solidify that relationship.
  • Showcase milestones and achievements: Providers should be able to see the status of the clients they work with, length of membership, number of classes attended, number of referred clients, etc. Automation can help send emails celebrating clients, but it is much more valuable when a provider can personally congratulate a client in their class or session. 

Making it easy for providers to assist clients and hear feedback helps staff feel empowered and clients feel taken care of.

 

Client to client

How clients treat and get to know each other is just as valuable as how your staff is trained to treat clients. Do your veteran clients feel appreciated enough to get excited when new clients come in? Are the new clients just getting started encouraged to get to know other clients? 

Encourage clients to get to know one another to build community.


Here are some ways tech can help develop and foster relationships between clients:

  • Send referral reminders: We'd like to think that inviting friends and family to their favorite gym is at the top of our clients' minds, but they must be reminded. Schedule quarterly SMS and push alert reminders for referral promotions and events. Make it easy by providing a template text message or email equipped with all the links and details they can pass along to friends and family quickly and easily.
  • Automate reviews: Use tech to automate asking for, posting, and responding to reviews. New customers are much more likely to trust what your current clients have to say versus anything you say about yourself. Prioritize Google and Facebook, as Google reviews boost search engine optimization (SEO), while Facebook reviews help current clients showcase their favorite facility to their personal audience.
  • Make content shareable: Make events, classes, providers, and services shareable within your app. Clients should be able to do this with a few clicks by copying a link and sharing it over text or social media like Facebook and Instagram, or forums like Reddit or Quora.

 

Client to self

When clients experience your services and see the value your facility brings to their happiness and well-being, they can justify the price tag. If clients feel they are investing in something other than a community that listens to and serves their needs, they will begin looking elsewhere. 

When clients see the value your facility brings, they can justify the price tag.


Here are some ways technology can ensure your clients feel appreciated:

  • Reward loyal customers: Set automation via email, text, and push alerts to offer gifts when milestones are hit. Perhaps even elevate their status from "Member" to "Gold" or "Platinum" on the app when their account has reached a certain level of classes or time as a member, as they continue to invest in your business. 
  • Respond to feedback: Too many missed opportunities to respond to feedback make clients feel unheard. Ensure your technology supports feedback by notifying the right manager to respond and update the client as action is taken. TeamUp's Community Happiness is the perfect tool for managing feedback and boosting your online reputation.
  • Take action: The right technology can provide clear rating reports for managers and owners to quickly identify what's not working and take action before things get worse.


The interaction clients have with your brand, staff, and other clients within and outside the walls of your facility is a testament to your community. This blog has shared why community is essential and what tech features could support it. Please take a moment to dive into the how behind TeamUp's unique features highlighted throughout, as they provide every tech tool shared above to develop the four key relationships. 

The right technology provides clear rating reports for managers and owners to quickly identify what's not working and take action before things get worse.

 

No relationship is more important than another; all should be equally developed as each client's life and needs evolve.

 

Want to uncover more tips on how to strengthen community at your facility? Check out Staci's post on Mastering community building through workshops, enrollment programs and events.

Staci is committed to helping fitness managers and club operators elevate their programs, instructors, and leadership. As an experienced consultant and strategic planner for digital and in-person offerings, her clients range from large luxury health clubs and international companies to small studios. She has designed world-class studios on a tight budget, launched signature formats, and built turnkey solutions for enhancing systems, leaders, and talent. Staci is also a master instructor and established presenter, podcaster, writer, and YouTube influencer, regularly interviewing and collaborating with industry thought leaders.

Click here for more information on working with Staci, or email her at contact@stacialden.com for more information.

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