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Turn your Drop-ins into Members: My 3 Biggest Insights from Trying to Take Down ClassPass

It goes way back to 7 years ago when ClassPass arrived in Atlanta (REPRESENT) where I’m originally from. 

Every time I go to a yoga class, I get asked “are you checking in with Urban Sports Club or Class Pass”. 

“Absolutely not”, I usually respond.

“Oh– ha, okay… I’m happy to hear that”, they usually reply. 

It goes way back to 7 years ago when ClassPass arrived in Atlanta (REPRESENT) where I’m originally from. 

My business partner / best friend / mentor / spirit animal, Chris Weber, and I had just launched Beakinship, a strategy consultancy laser-focused on serving the boutique fitness industry. 

Chris spent the early part of his career building up OrangeTheory Fitness’s south east region, helping them sell out their memberships before they even opened their doors. I spent the early years of my career whoring myself out as a freelancer to *literally* anyone who needed my services. 

When we came into each other’s lives we realized that between his industry expertise plus sales and operations, mixed with my marketing and digital strategy expertise… we could REALLY help this space thrive. 

AND THEN? ClassPass arrived. They were loud. 

Marketing like crazy with free trials, cute website design, curated stock photos. It seemed like the total package — for the consumers. 

For the studios? Obviously not so much. 

Our clients started to experience a lot of drop-ins, but no new actual members. On top of that they were receiving a shamefully small kickback in comparison to what a drop-in class would normally cost. At the time it was something like 30% (not sure if this has changed). 

It felt unfair and our clients were suffering because of it. 

So we decided to take action and do something about it. 

We created a “Turn Your Drop-ins into Members” program and guide to help studio owners suffering from the drop-in apps level up their operations, sales and marketing. 

Fast forward a few years, I’m living in Berlin and I hear about UrbanSports Club — the exact same concept as ClassPass (which is also in Berlin now). 

I start to hear the same problems about USC (but worse unfortunately.)

All in all, we didn’t defeat the drop-in apps, but we DID harvest some incredible insights out of this program that were truly impactful for our clients. I’m going to explain those below.

A Few Things Up Front:

The drop-in apps are not interested in giving you new members.

It’s not in the interest of their business model to supply you with new members for your studio. It’s just not. Don’t let yourself be dazzled by their vendor marketing messaging. It’s in their best interest to keep members on THEIR app paying THEM a monthly fee and you continue getting a fraction of your drop-in class cost. 

And before we shit all over the drop-in apps again, the thing is: they’re playing by the rules and their strategy is good — you can see the same strategy across a variety of industries. 

It’s simple, they get customers hooked on variety at an unsustainably low price. 

On that note, one interesting thing we realized is: 

Some people will always prefer variety and that’s ok. 

Perhaps the one thing you can do nothing about. Some people want to be able to access a yoga class, a sauna session, a spin class and a HIIT class all in one week, as part of their regular fitness regimen. To me that sounds exhausting, but I’m a creature of habit (#taurus). 

What I’m getting at here is that some personality types are perfectly suited for classpass / urban. There’s not a ton you can do about that and frankly, I don’t advise you to try and offer all of those things above. I will tell you below how you can address this. 

So throughout this journey and all of the testing and refining, we pulled out 5 common threads in all of our studio’s successes: 

1. Know your niche 

You’ve heard it from me before, I’m here to tell you again: niching-down will help you stand out. Niching down will not lead to less sales opportunity, but rather the opposite. When you know your ideal member and customer inside and out, and you apply those characteristics and preferences to your offerings, messaging and ultimately your brand, you become a magnet to attracting more of your ideal customers. 

I call it the Law of Magnetic Messaging 💁

What are you passionate about? What do you LOVE about yoga? Why did you choose to become a yoga instructor and then open a studio? 

Once you’re clear on the niche you want to hone in on, think about ways you can: 

2. Add variety to your class lineup

So niche down and then expand your offerings within that niche. In other words you want to curate your classes and teachers based on this niche and all of the things your ideal customer would LOVE to have access to. 

Say you want to hone in on the spiritual side of yoga, maybe you’re a Kundalini yoga teacher. 

From the point of view of a student who loves Kundalini yoga, what else would they love? What else would naturally compliment kundalini classes? Probably sound healing or gong meditation, spiritual warrior, maybe there’s a specific type of breathwork that you could curate to fit the vibe.

On top of that, create your own class concepts! A style based on something well known, but with your own special twist. Something they can only get by coming to your studio. 

Go all in on your brand and be known as THAT studio for people who are on fire for THAT type of thing 🙌 

3. Give them an offer they can’t refuse

I’ll keep this one short and sweet: come up with a monthly flat rate that makes it a no-brainer for your ideal customers to say “ciao!” to the drop-in app and join your studio instead. 

And I don’t mean make it cheap! 

Price your packages from a place of abundance, not scarcity. Rest easy knowing that there are probably THOUSANDS of ideal customers hanging out within a 10 mile radius of your studio. 

Make sure this offer is clearly communicated on your website and use a booking system that allows you to accept payments and allows students to book into your classes easily and intuitively. Make it easy! 

4. Cultivate a Community 

Probably my favorite insight from this journey: people will join for the classes but they will stay for the community. Focus on cultivating and nurturing a community within your studio and let them drop-ins be drop-ins. 

Treat your community with events, workshops and classes that might be unrelated to yoga itself, but compliment their interests related to your niche. 

5. And finally, stop prioritizing drop-in apps

Once you feel like you’re making progress on the points above, go ahead and deprioritize the drop-in apps — whatever that looks like for you. Maybe it’s only allowing a couple of spaces per class to be booked through the app. I would encourage you to make this shift sooner rather than later! 

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