As the saying goes, a little healthy competition never hurt anyone. And never was this truer than in business. Having competitors in your town or directly next-door means that you’re no longer resting on your laurels and that you have to earn your customers loyalty more than ever. It’s an opportunity to present your best product and be truly innovative, while also incidentally working with other studios to build a stronger fitness industry overall. Here we take a look at a few ways to learn more about the latest studio on the street.
IDENTIFY YOUR COMPETITORS
You can’t consider every fitness game within 100 miles to be a competitor, so instead identify which studios nearby could also appeal to the network you’re trying to reach and add them to your master list of competitors. Next look at who’s charging a similar rate to you—add them to the list. Then consider a few national brands that are doing what you’re doing, with great success, and add them to list. (Example: If you own a small spinning studio and there isn’t a SoulCycle nearby, still add them to the list so that you can monitor their marketing, social and business strategies.) Keep your list to a manageable 10 or so companies, any larger amount will result in too much time and effort on your end. Once your list is complete, check out each company’s website, and do a deep dive—read the founders’ and teachers’ bios and the company’s mission statement, take a look at the class schedules and peruse the photo galleries.
What’s the quickest way to get intel on what your competitors are doing? Sign up for their email (or snail mail) newsletter. These days nearly every business uses a newsletter to fill customers in on what’s new and what’s coming down the pipeline. By signing up, you’re guaranteed updates about what they’re working on, new classes they might be rolling out, expansions on the horizons or events they are partaking in.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOOGLE
By now you should have hopefully set up Google Alerts for your own business, so now it’s time to do so for your competitors. You don’t want to get bombarded with daily alerts every time Barry’s Bootcamp is mentioned online, so be sure to edit your settings to “Only the best results” and select “At most once a week” in terms of frequency. Google will then deliver your competitors’ online mentions into one neat digest that you receive weekly (you can choose the day and time) to stay abreast of any local or national news regarding these businesses.
While we’re talking Google, you should also be taking advantage the free Trends tool, where you can see how specific search terms are trending relative to all searches in the U.S. or worldwide. This is particularly helpful when you want the latest information trending for your industry.
You probably have listings for business on Yelp, Citysearch and Google—which means your competitors do as well. Just as you pay close attention to the reviews and comments your listings receive, you should also take some time every once in a while to check out what people are saying about your competitors. If they’re complaining about how expensive a competitor’s class is, for example, you can post on social media with a flash sale on your courses that week. Or if someone gives a nearby studio only one star because of “rude staff,” sit down with your team and review the customer service standards within your own studio.
Monitoring the social pages of all your competitors is paramount—after all, engagement is what every business is looking to achieve and if your competitors are doing this successfully, you need to take note. But with all the platforms out there—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube among them—it’s nearly impossible to keep tabs on the strategies your competition is rolling out. Here’s where Fanpage Karma comes in. Easy-to-use and free, the online tool will monitor all of the social movements of your selected touchpoints and aggregate all of that information—from how many posts a day to the most engaging content and time slots—into neat little graphs and pie charts. Why is this so helpful? Because you get a breakdown in what’s working for your competitors—specifically, what types of photos and captions are engaging users the most, what days and times are most effective, which hashtags are trending, and more.
Once you’ve digested all that information, assess the most successful strategies deployed by your competitors and figure out a way to replicate that in an original way in your own feeds.
We also recommend the old fashion way of finding out information—just talking to people. Your clients will be a wealth of information. Yes, they may be loyal to you, but they likely have friends who are checking out the new studio a few blocks away and they’ll be happy to dish to you about the appeal of this new business. Is this studio open early? Do their teachers have crazy social followings? Do they offer childcare? When you on-board a new customer, be sure to ask them who they went to before, why they left and what brought them to you—and the same goes for when you lose a customer.