Build community and create repeat customers in the fitness industry

by Ana Lopez

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Behind the Review host and Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.

Chrome cycle

Many entrepreneurs leave the corporate world to find a better work-life balance and take control of how their day-to-day lives affect their mental health. Ninette Wassef, owner of Chrome Cycle Studio in Los Angeles, is no exception. As a lawyer, she worked long hours and did intensive litigation work, often skipping lunch and unable to set her own schedule. While she focused on giving her clients the best, her own well-being took a back seat.

The only thing that helped her relax after work was her regular spin class, which brought so many benefits to her physical and mental health that she decided to make a career switch.

“I’ve been doing indoor cycling for over 20 years. It’s my other passion, and it just very organically became my second career: opening a business where I wanted to give back to my community that stress relief and that motivation to stay healthy and well while you’re in an intense and stressful work environment,” said Ninette.

While spin classes can be intimidating, Ninette said there’s something for everyone at Chrome Cycle, and she and her staff work hard to make sure beginners get as much out of the experience as regular riders.

Yelp reviewer Kyle M. heard the hype around spin classes and wanted to try it out. After a lackluster experience at another studio, he turned to Chrome on the recommendation of a friend and found a new training house.

“I felt like Chrome Cycle was one of the first studios I went to that greeted me, welcomed me really nicely and remembered my name. I think that was a really big one because when they said my name I asked wonder how did they know my name? How did they remember me?” Kyle said.

Creating community in her cycling studio is one of the most important things to Ninette. After all, everyone is a beginner at some point, but with a little care and attention, they can transition to riding like a pro.

“A beginner coming in, someone like Kyle saying, ‘I don’t even know how to set up my bike yet,’ we want to make sure we continue to give them those tools so that after six, seven lessons now he puts his own bike up and he’s moved from the extreme side to a little over, to become more established in the community of the class,” said Ninette.

“We also want to create that sense of comfort right from the very start. And it’s about community. So you’re not just ‘customer A’. We want every customer that comes in to feel like we see them .”

Just like any other sport or hobby, cycling is not a perfect fit for every client who comes to try a class. Ninette understands this and if anyone chooses to leave a negative review, she will address them as soon as possible.

“I will answer and ask, ‘How can I make this right? How can I make this better?’ And I also want to make sure I try to erase that bad taste in your mouth I can’t make the experience you had any better, but I want to see… Can I get you back in? Can I get you make next? better experience?”

Sometimes the review reflects something Ninette has no control over, and while the feedback may sting, she tries to keep it all in perspective.

“Reviews are often scary. We’re in neighborhood buildings like this and people say, ‘Oh, it’s great that there’s free parking.’ But the building needs work, or it’s a bit dilapidated.’ are really only talking about our service.”

She’s happy to say that the things she can control – the classes, the atmosphere, and the service – are the subject of her positive reviews. “It’s nice to see an influx of positive reviews and people commenting on the service. We usually get five stars for our friendliness, our community, our atmosphere. The service we provide ourselves, the actual teaching experience, that means the most.”

Ninette took her passion for exercise and turned it into a successful business by making it welcoming to newcomers, challenging to regulars, and paying attention to the feedback she receives in online reviews. Some other tools she uses to make Chrome Cycle successful are:

  • Welcoming new customers. Use multiple touchpoints, including greetings at the counter and follow-up emails, to make sure customers know they are valued and want to see them again in your business.
  • Knowing customers by name creates a sense of belonging. Even if you have to use technology to remember names, it makes everyone feel seen and heard so they keep coming back. Consider engaging with them on social media or having a quick chat after their service or shopping experience.
  • Create FOMO (fear of missing out) on social media. Posting behind-the-scenes videos or photos from events can get current and potential customers excited about your business. Manage your social media to show them that they don’t want to miss out on what you have to offer.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Ninette and Kyle, and subscribe Behind the review for more information from new entrepreneurs and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcherand Sound cloud

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