Are you a small, local facility with a lot of big competitors in your community? Then you might recognise the struggle it can be to get noticed in the market while all the larger chains are getting all the attention.
It takes some effort to get noticed in the market when you are a smaller fish in the pond – but it is definitely not an impossible task. Find inspiration in this blog post on how you – as a smaller facility – can stand out from the crowd when surrounded by larger chains.
#1 Don’t focus on price – but on values instead
It might be tempting to lower your price to attract your target group and to challenge your (larger) competitors. However, that might not be the right strategy.
If you are a local facility, a bigger competitive chain will have much more ballast to lower their price even further. You can then lower the price again, but chances are that the competitor will keep pushing the price until you have to give in. And that might end up hurting your brand and business even more.
Ignore the price differences (to a certain point). Look at the value you can give your members. If the value exceeds the price, you have come a LONG way. Because that’s actually what it’s all about. Your members need to feel that they are getting more out of their membership, than what they are actually paying for.
It’s all about exceeding expectations. When members hear your price, they will immediately think about “what do I get for my money?”. To increase the value your customers experience, you have to understand your members and their wants, needs and expectations.
The simplest way to find out is to “go out in the field” and ask your members. You can also send out customer surveys if you want a more systematic approach.
The point is that you get useful insights from your members about their expectations and needs. Once, you have them, you can start improving your offers to increase value without changing your prices.
#2 Offer a unique experience
It’s easy to copy what the competitors are doing. However, that’s not the right strategy if you want to stand out in the market. Your offerings will look exactly like your competitors, and it might be hard for potential members to see the purpose of choosing your business over the larger chains if they can’t spot the differences.
Be different – in a good way. Put the spotlight on all the things where your business differentiates from your competitors and that shows that you can offer a unique experience to your members.
Chances are that you already have certain areas in your business that creates that unique experience. You just have to identify them and bring them to life in your communication and marketing to attract new members as well as keep your current ones loyal to your business.
Happy members stay loyal, but they also share their satisfaction with others – thus, creating word-of-mouth that attracts new members.
Take a closer look at your business. Where do you excel compared to your competitors? What do you offer that’s remotely different from your competitors’ offerings?
Of course, classes, products, membership types and the like are a good place to start, but try looking beyond that as well.
- Maybe you have a kickass team that is always present in your facility, helping out your members or just having a chat, so everyone feels comfortable and welcome.
- Maybe you offer a great lounge area where people can relax, get a cup of coffee, protein bar and hang out after a workout.
- Maybe you offer a “light” day-care that new parents can make use of when attending morning classes. Or maybe small children are even allowed to join their parents in certain classes.
It might be hidden in the smaller things that you take for granted because it’s always been like that, but by giving it a bit more attention towards the market, it can enhance the unique experience your members can experience at your facility.
#3 Stand stronger with a network of other smaller facilities
It’s understandable if you feel a bit overwhelmed if you’re surrounded by larger chains in your community. But don’t succumb to the pressure from the big fish.
You still have a lot to offer. With a little support from other smaller facilities, you can be stronger together and stand out from the crowd of big operators.
Creating a network with other smaller facilities can be a great way to offer something extra to your members – while still staying true to your local values. For instance, you can offer special membership types that can be used at both your facility and at another smaller facility in the neighbour town.
You can also join a larger network of facilities, like TrainLikeHome, that allow your members to use smaller facilities around the country or abroad – e.g., while they are on vacation or on a business trip. That way they stay focused on their training, and you can offer them that extra value (hint: Do you see the connection to #1? 😊).
#4 Take your customer service to the next level
Bad experiences can be hard to forgive. However, bad experiences are especially hard to forgive if – upon that – the customer service is bad. Actually, Qualtrics XM Institute reports that only 15% of consumers will forgive a bad experience when they have experienced a “very poorly” customer service.
On the other hand, the report shows that 77% of consumers would forgive a company for a bad experience when the consumer experiences a “very good” customer service.
The point? We can all make mistakes – we are only human – but good customer service can make a big difference when it comes to retaining your members, but also attracting new members that might have experienced bad customer service at one of your competitor’s facilities.
Use some resources on optimising your customer service to be superior. It might just be a few tweaks or guidelines that have to be updated and communicated to your team.
Or maybe you have to initiate new processes to take your customer service to the next level. Either way, you need to find out at what level your customer service is and whether this lives up to your – and your members’ – expectations.
Your customer service needs to come under intense scrutiny. The solution is very much like the one mentioned in #1. You need to ask your members what they think about your customer service – either face to face or via a customer survey.
The customer survey might be the better choice, as it gives your members the opportunity to answer anonymously. That increases your chances of sincere and honest answers.
The customer survey could for instance focus on some of the following areas of interest:
- When was the last time you needed help from customer service? [Frequency]
- Did you receive the help you needed? [Efficiency]
- How was your overall experience of our customer service? [Experience]
- What could have been better? [Improvements]
Dig into your responses, and you will surely find areas where you can step up your customer service game and beat the larger competitors by always being on your toes towards your members – and showing them that you care.
Hopefully, reaching the end of this blog post, you have found some motivation and inspiration on how to stand out from the crowd even though you might be the smaller fish in the pond.