We’re excited to host guest author Jess Bashelor, Owner/Operator of The Handle Bar in Boston, for this post!

Here at The Handle Bar, we’re all about our community. We want to keep our riders happy and healthy by providing exceptional service on a consistent basis. Keeping an engaged and satisfied ridership isn’t easy, but the real challenge is building that community from scratch. First time riders are the future of your business, so how do you capture them?

Marketing and PR will drive consumers to the door, but that’s where the real work begins. As you know, getting the word out is hugely important, but if that word isn’t squeaky clean, you’ll lose potential clients before they even enter your space. The first impression is huge. I’ve got some tips on how to capture those first time clients, convert them into sales, and drive word of mouth marketing starting with visit number one.

Be familiar with your class roster well before class time. Take special note of the new riders and prepare your staff and instructors with this information at the start of the shift. If you know how many new clients you’re expecting, you can prepare the desk with liability waivers, written studio information and pricing, and anything else you might need. New clients will feel valued when they know you were expecting them.

Give them a tour of your space, no matter how small it is. The majority of these new faces (especially in an indoor cycling studio or other boutique, specialized space) are a bit apprehensive on their first visit. They don’t know what to expect, how it works, what’s normal vs. what isn’t. We don’t want those new clients beginning class with any questions. Show them the check-in counter, the lockers or cubby space, the bathrooms, and any areas where they’ll need to borrow or return equipment. The extra 60 seconds of effort goes a long way.

No new client should have to ask for assistance while setting up their equipment and preparing for class. At The Handle Bar, the instructors know exactly who and where the new riders are before they even enter the room. They can greet them immediately and take extra care giving them pointers and instruction on equipment set-up. We staff 1 additional person in the bike room during the 10 minutes prior to class to aid the instructor with the new clients. No new rider left behind!

So their first spin class at The Handle Bar is behind them, what next? We try and spot our new riders before they leave the studio to check-in and congratulate them. For many people, just showing up for the first class is outside of their comfort zone. Let them know that what they did isn’t easy, and they kick-ass for getting through it. Find out if they liked it, and make sure they don’t have any questions before saying goodbye. If all goes really well, we hope they stop at the desk on their way out to make a purchase.

If you work the desk at your own studio, this is all a lot easier. You’re responsible for this getting done and monitoring the instructor team to do their part. But if you have multiple locations, and/or trust in a manager and staff to run the studio, you need to spend time developing this process and ensuring that the team has an air-tight method for introducing new riders.

If a rider has a less than great first experience, they’re not likely to return. There are always methods to recapture lost clients, but that’s no fun! Do it right the first time, knock their socks off, and always continue to improve your product. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your studio and experience with thousands of loyal, satisfied clients.