There is an immense pressure on studios to continuously find new customers, specifically the “right kind of customers” who will stick around and become valuable community members. Understandably, studio owners and managers spend a great deal of time considering different acquisition strategies. You are overseeing many moving pieces at the same time- from the class format and instructor roster to the studio facilities and customer experience - so being able to quickly identify areas that need improvement, and measure that improvement, is really important.
In order to acquire customers and build an community of engaged customers who are advocates for your brand, there are two critical pieces to think about:
- How many new customers are you bringing in each month?
- What happens to those customers after their first class?
Not surprisingly, it often takes more than one class for a customer to form a new routine and convert to a valuable community member. As a result, we’ve found first-visit churn to be quite high across NYC studios. Constantly churning through new customers presents a number of difficulties for a studio owner:
- Pressure on the instructor to accommodate those with less experience
- The high acquisition cost of new leads compared to re-engaging an existing customer
- New customers have less impact on word of mouth referral than committed, engaged customers
Determining different acquisition strategies is a crucial piece of an studio owner’s job- but what comes next is just as important. The fact is, money is being left on the table. We’ve found the Acquisition Funnel to be a helpful way to understand exactly how early-stage retention affects a studio’s bottom line.
The Acquisition Funnel: A Case Study
In this case study, we’ve tracked the customer journey at NYC studios of varying capacity and price.
The studios averaged 3,295 new customers in the period between January 1 and March 31st of 2017. 53% of these customers never returned after their first visit, and have spent $19.
Meanwhile, the average spend from of the customers who returned for another visit jumps to $137. Compared to $19 for one-timers, that’s $118 left on the table per customer. Reducing first-visit churn from 53% to 43% would have provided an additional $40,642 per studio over this ten-month time period.
Imagine being handed a bucket with a number of holes, and being asked to carry water from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Your first step would be to cover the largest holes, right?
Similarly, while a certain level of churn is inevitable, there is a huge opportunity for small changes that will have a significant impact on your studio’s bottom line. Most studios usually use a combination of some of the methods listed below:
- Ask for feedback after customers attend their first class. This can be done in person, through a call, or through a survey tool (we love typeform!)
- Take a close look at the customer experience of new customers, from the first booking they make to the follow-up after class. Did the customer understand what to expect going into the class? Did the class meet their expectations? Small efforts to “surprise & delight” customers at the studio goes a long way.
- Make sure to flag new customers with instructors, so they can provide extra attention and guidance to make new customers feel welcome.
- Crunch some data to understand how different intro special package types affect retention (more on that here!).
- Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and take a close look at the pricing options available after the intro special is complete; is the cost of packages and memberships a deterrent? We use dynamic pricing to provide a range of options for customers, so that they can still feel a sense of value without an upfront commitment.
Regardless of what you are currently doing, the most important thing is to test, test, and test! No two studios are alike, so understanding what your customers respond to is essential- and that takes constant updates and iterations.
Curious what your studio’s Acquisition Funnel looks like? After signing a data non-disclosure agreement, we’ll run the numbers for you using your Attendance with Revenue Report and schedule a quick call to walk you through the process and findings.
This is the first post in a three-part series on lead generation. To jump to the next post, click here.