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The Who, What & Why of Automation for Boutique Fitness Studios

The Who, What & Why of Automation for Boutique Fitness Studios

Xplor Technologies and boutique fitness studio Nooma share why and how brands should lean into software automation to grow their business
This article is part of ATN’s DISRUPT 2023 video series, which features key conversations with executives from the most successful brands in fitness and wellness. To watch more videos, click here

If you’re a boutique fitness studio owner, your career path was likely driven by your passion for inspirational fitness experiences, and a desire to share that energy, camaraderie and stimulus with others. And you get to do that every day.

But along with business ownership, comes hundreds of other tasks that probably outweigh your bandwidth. Tasks that you might not have the expertise – or the desire – to take on.

That’s where automation comes in. 

“There are so many details in the day-to-day and moving to automation has allowed me to continue doing the things that I’m really good at and let the software company do what they are really good at,” said Casey Cox, founder and CEO of Nooma, a three-location boutique fitness brand out of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Cox, along with James Reyes, general manager and chief revenue officer of fitness and well-being at Xplor Technologies, spoke during Athletech News’ DISRUPT 2023 about why studios should automate and how to approach it for best outcomes.

Why Automate?

“Our team cannot adequately cover advertising, PR, marketing and brand building along with executing top-notch classes and addressing the daily needs of members in the studio,” Cox explains. “To achieve the level of personalization we want in our branding and marketing, we need to reach out to multiple people in multiple ways with multiple messages every day, so auto campaigns are vital.”

In terms of introducing, extending and highlighting your brand, Reyes says a digital platform is where this can really play out.

“The digital experience is where customers truly see your brand for the first time,” Reyes says. “They can look at the classes and instructors you offer, get the vibe of your studio and a feel for what your brand is about. It’s critical that this first touchpoint adequately reflects your brand.”

James Reyes (credit: Xplor Technologies)

Along with the presence and branding, a software platform also acts as a robust marketing arm. 

“Automation allows you to then take the data and act on it,” Reyes notes. “It empowers your team and studio to provide strategic touchpoints throughout the customer journey in a uniquely personal way.” 

The proof is in the results, and Cox is seeing this unfold.

“We have lowered our client loss by 39% just this year since partnering with Xplor,” she says. “This is an unbelievable stat, and on top of that, it gives my team space to do what we excel at. There’s nothing better than that.”

The Critical Elements

In bringing on automation, it’s important to consider what elements are most important to your specific boutique fitness business so that the platform can give you the best return.

“I think a priority is that the app must live up to the studio brand and really truly exude what it’s about, Reyes says. “The colors, look, feel and ease of use are the foundation. Then such things as providing the user the ability to choose which bike they want in advance of their spin class or which smoothie they plan to order are the details to consider.”

On the flip side, giving instructors participation intel prior to classes can be a game-changer. Are there influencers in the group that you want to inspire to share the brand? Maybe a VIP member is attending that you should give a shout-out to. Are there new members registered who need help setting up and getting comfortable? 

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“These things go such a long way in building a community and making a class “sticky,” Reyes notes

Reyes and Cox agree that another important aspect is follow-up after a first class. 

“Connecting with an individual directly after he or she has had a new experience in your studio is paramount,” Reyes says. “They may be feeling a high after the class and willing to engage, give a review and react to the next step in becoming a long-term member.”

Beyond acquisition, studios should look to their software platform for retention as well.

“Communication with members has to be continual to keep them engaged for the long haul,” Cox says. “Recognizing milestones like birthdays or member anniversaries gives members a more personal experience and that goes such a long way. We can’t leave these foundational aspects of communication out and expect there not to be gaps.”

credit: (Casey Cox/Nooma)

How to Choose an Automation Partner

Reyes says choosing a partner who has real-world experience in a boutique fitness studio is a must, and Cox agrees. 

“Having worked alongside others, I chose Xplor because they have studio experience in addition to the technical application,” the Nooma founder says. “I want to work with someone smarter than me so that I can learn from them and together, we can make the business stronger and healthier.”

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