We’ve all heard the expression that “location, location, location!” matters when it comes to the success of restaurants. But have you heard the one that goes, “reviews, reviews, reviews” leads to the success of gyms and fitness studios?
We’re making it an expression now.
Google reviews are the #1 way gym businesses can increase their walk-in traffic with zero financial cost.
Positive Google reviews are good – no, great – for local businesses. For the owner, they boost morale and reward hard work, and for the consumer, they give confidence in decision-making to give the service a try. A win-win for both sides of the transaction.
But what effect can they really have on the bottom line of a fitness club?
From what we’ve seen at The Fitness CPA – an impactful one.
Google reviews are not only important, they can be a deal-breaker.
“According to a Bright Local survey, 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is good or bad.”
As consumers, most of us turn to Google when searching for a new service in town. Gym goers are no different.
The amount of Google reviews your local business has can be the difference between people coming through your doors to try a free trial, or going next door to a tried & true, established club.
Through The Fitness CPA clients, we’ve seen firsthand that an increase in Google reviews can have a financial impact on a fitness business.
A business with less than 5 reviews does not garner the same coercion or social proof as a business with 20+ positive Google reviews. It doesn’t scream, “people love it here, you should try it out.”
Instead, it whispers, “keep scrolling down Google’s list for other options.”
Put yourselves in the same shoes – would you first try the gym that had 2-3 positive reviews or the gym with 20+ reviews, with all else equal?
By simply increasing Google reviews from <10 to the 20-30 range, we’ve seen fitness studio clients incrementally increase their gym walk-in traffic. In essence, more Google Reviews leads to more membership opportunities.
And not only that, but Google’s algorithm loves them too. Local businesses with strong review profiles on Google tend to be rewarded with higher Google rankings, which results in even more free traffic to your website.
Free marketing from your free marketing!
That’s a strategy your accountants can get behind.
Action: Focus on increasing your Google reviews until you have at least 20 or more. It’s free and makes a big impact. If you’re a group based fitness concept, continue your efforts until you reach 50+ reviews.
How to get more Google reviews
So, we’ve agreed that reviews are important. They’re essentially free marketing with an enormous return on investment.
But how do you go about increasing your reviews? It’s not that painful, we promise.
While some review websites such as Yelp ban businesses from asking customers for reviews, Google’s rules are more lax.
They’ve created a simple URL through Google My Business that allows businesses to share a direct link to a new review with customers. You can find your gym’s link through your Google My Business dashboard.
Watch our quick 2-minute YouTube on how to find your Google My Business link.
Once you have the link, the easiest way to garner more reviews is to simply email or text existing customers and ask. With the link, it will take them no more than 60 seconds to complete.
Tip: A personal note from you or your manager will go a lot farther than a mass email. Keep it personal, keep it short, and ask directly.
Especially through these tough financial times, we’ve found customers are generally willing to help wherever they can. Google reviews are a great way for people to show support without digging into their pockets.
Ideally in future, you’ll want to set up an automated process that asks clients for a review within their first month at your studio. You can use any modern email tool to schedule, set and forget this request automatically for any new members who join the club.
But for now, focus on reaching out to existing customers and getting the numbers up.
In a time where every membership counts & vigilance for experience & sanitation is at an all-time high, an increase in reviews is guaranteed to only help your financial position.
Action: Use your Google My Business direct link to ask 5 existing customers for a Google review by the end of this week.
Your members will love to support without digging further into their pockets.
What about bad reviews?
It’s a good question.
While some owners may be hesitant to ask for Google reviews for fear of average or negative reviews, one or two negative reviews are unlikely to have a big effect, overall.
If you expect more than one or two bad reviews, you may have more problems than free marketing can solve.
Example of a good response to a bad review.
In fact, research shows that customers often look beyond negative reviews if there is a corresponding personal response from the business. Customers like to see businesses take accountability and initiative to make things right. It shows potential members that you care about your members, and that they can expect to receive the same treatment in cases of conflict in future.
It’s good practice to personally respond to every review you receive to reinforce good service. But especially the bad ones.
Small initiative, big impact
We can’t stress the impact Google reviews can have on a fitness business enough. If you take away nothing else from this blog, we hope you’ll take the next few days to muster up a few more for your club. They go a long way in improving reputation and Google rankings for a business.
Remember: the success of a gym often comes down to its owner. Small, extra-step initiatives go a long way in giving your club the best chance at sticking around for the long run. It’s a tough, competitive market and every extra push helps.
If you need help setting up your Google my Business listing or have another financial question, you can reach out to The Fitness CPA by getting in touch here. We’re always happy to help.
In the meantime, you might find our e-Book: 8 Ways to Increase Revenue at Your Gym helpful. We list a few more ways our clients have increased revenue in tough or trying times. You can download it here.
Until next time.