First impressions are formed almost instantly and we tend to get really attached to our first impression of someone or something. What are folks’ first impressions of your studio?
These days a person’s first impression of your Pilates studio happen in a lot of different ways: Social Media ads, email messages, a phone call or an in person experience. This blog post is going to address the “walk in”. The person who walks through your studio door, a little hesitant, and says “Yes, hi. I was looking for some information” or the brand new client who is arriving for their first class or session.
You can make a big impact with your first impression. All it takes is a little effort and planning. If you create a great, welcoming first impression it will be much easier to overcome any objections the new inquiry/client might have such as price, and commitment.
The 1st First Impression: Finding the Way in
Take every step you can to make sure your client knows where to park and how to enter the building.
Tip: Make your signage clear and welcoming. Re-frame the language of any signage that sounds negative. Instead of “no shoes” place a pretty sign that says “place your shoes here”).
The welcome area should look like a place where someone would find information.
Tip: Think about a person walking straight into an open studio. They might feel like they are interrupting, or not supposed to be there. A front desk, or a welcoming table will give this unfamiliar person a place to land. (Another tip: Have a place for them to sit. I’ll explain why later..)
This area should reflect the personality of your studio.
Tip: Cozy. Elegant. Cool. Nurturing. Modern. Serene. Invigorating. What describes your studio’s tone? Make sure your welcome area decor reflects that.
Keep everything clean, and organized.
Tip: Try to keep the inevitable “office clutter” out of sight. Staplers, File folders, Cups of coffee, Instructor’s cell phones and belongings, notes and paper clips should all be stashed away out of sight.
The 2nd First Impression: The Greeting
Have staff greet the client when they enter.
Tip: If you don't have front desk staff create materials (welcome brochure, contact info collection form) and you can designate an Instructor who can welcome the client and give them an instruction: "
- Hi! Welcome. Have a seat- I can be with you in 5 minutes".
- "Hey there! I'm with a client right now but would love to answer your questions. Have a seat, or leave your contact info and I'll give you a call at 3pm".
If this is a “walk in” looking for information, have them sit down with you. Sitting down will relax them and plant a seed of commitment. Make it casual - not like “let me take you into this room and we will sit down and I will give you a sales pitch”. It helps if you have places to sit in the landing area. Say hello to your walk in with a big smile and answer with “Yes, I can help you with that. Here, have a seat.”
If this is a brand new client welcome them! Then introduce them around. Remember, they are walking in for the first time and know nothing about your studio.
Here are some small details to show them:
- Where to put their shoes and belongings
- Where the bathroom is, where they can change or and take a phone call if necessary
- Introduce them to any staff, or clients (if appropriate) nearby
- Supply them with new client paperwork and let them know where they can fill it out and what to do with it when they are done.
- Help them get ready for class. Where do they get their props? When will their teacher arrive? Tell them where and how to pay.
- Inform them about any auto emails or texts they will receive and tell them how they can customize or change them.
- Engage authentically. Have you ever had the experience where you called customer support (your cell company, cable company, etc) and it felt like you were talking to an actual person rather than a headset and a script? I think of this scene from the office:
The difference between customer service phone calls is what I’m talking about. Talk to this new inquiry or new client as you would if your friend just introduced the two of you.
The Last First Impressions: The Goodbyes and Followups
Layout and explain their next step.
Tip: Whatever action they took at your studio that day there is something next. If they scheduled their first appointment, explain what email notifications they will get, what they should wear to their first appointment, and what payment methods you accept. If they gathered info but didn’t schedule or purchase tell them what comes next. Will you follow up with them in a few days? If it was their first class, ask them how it was or how they feel. Suggest another class you think they might like.
Offer them their payment options.
Tip: A lot of business coaches would teach you tactics on how to push this new client into a large commitment sale but we strongly believe clients see right through these sales-y schemes and it turns them off. Be honest. Explain the benefits of packages and memberships but act as if a single class is just as awesome.
Make sure you have their contact info.
Tip: This person is now a hot lead or a new client you definitely want to be able to follow up with.
Say bye and use their name.
Tip: “Bye Michelle! Have a great weekend” “Amy, it was wonderful to meet you. We’ll see you next Thursday.” Not only will this create a personal connection as they are literally walking out your door but it will help you remember their name for their next visit!
The Follow Up:
Your first impression can last even after you say goodbye. You should now have this person’s contact info and you have some choices depending on your personal style.
You can call or email the new inquiry/new client up a few days later.
Tip: Express again how nice it was to meet them, ask if they have questions, feedback or how they felt after taking the class.
BEST IDEA: You can enter their email in your carefully crafted sales funnel.
Does that sound sales-y, impersonal and scary to you! It doesn’t have to be. Pilates Business Pros can help you set up an organized, time saving and VERY personal set of auto emails to turn any warm or hot lead into a raving fan.
There are so many opportunities to make or blow a great first impression.
When you go to your studio tomorrow arrive early so you can take the time arriving as if you were a new inquiry or a new client. Think about the points made in this post.
Let us know in the comments.