Studio Software Features That Will Help Your Business GrowApr 22, 2023
The market for studio software has grown exponentially. While studio owners used to have very little choice, they now have so many options to choose from that it can be difficult to determine which one is right for their boutique fitness studio business.
I have worked with hundreds of studio owners just like you as a marketing strategist and business coach exclusively in the boutique fitness industry. Members of our Thrive and Marketing Intensive group-based programs and studio owners that I coach 1:1 ask questions about studio software all the time. And it’s no wonder–it’s an expense, there are a dizzying array of choices, and it’s important to get it right!
That’s why Spring Three wanted to take a deep dive into studio booking and management software to help provide clarity and guidance to studio owners everywhere. We started by conducting all kinds of research on the wide variety of platforms available. And then we took another step.
We went out to our members and social media followers and asked them all to weigh in! In the Spring Three Studio Software survey we got feedback about what works, what doesn’t, and what is important to the studio owners out there using the software to manage and grow their studio businesses.
This article is the third and final in a series that gathers up everything we’ve learned to share it with you! (See the first article, Studio Software: What Matters Most To Studio Owners here and the second, Which Studio Software Works Best for Which Type of Studio Offerings? here)In this installment, we are going to focus squarely on features of studio software that will help your business grow.
We have identified four primary features that impact how a studio booking and management platform can help your studio business grow. They include:
- How easy the studio software is to use on the business side
- Reporting and analytics that are useful
- Integrated marketing capabilities (email automations, email campaigns, 2-way text)
- How easy the studio software is to use on the client side
These features will either help (or hinder!) your ability to use the studio software to grow your studio business. Let’s take a look at each one more closely.
Studio Software Should be Easy for the Studio Owner to Use
The Spring Three Studio Software survey made it very clear that studio owners want and need their software to be easy to use. It was one of the primary reasons studio owners love the software they use. And on the flip side, difficulty of use was one of the top reasons that some studio owners do not like their studio software.
Studio software should be easy for the studio owner, and support staff or teachers, to use. When you go into your studio software, it shouldn't require coder-level tech savvy to perform all of the features and functions. If reports are difficult to generate, marketing functions are confusing or clunky, and daily-use data is not displayed front and center to be seen every time you log on then you won’t be able to leverage the software to improve your business.
This impacts your ability to grow your studio business. Sophisticated capabilities are absolutely useless if the studio owner can’t figure out how to use them. Look for a studio software platform that promises (and delivers!) on user experience. It should be intuitive, accessible, and use plain, clear language that can be understood by any studio owner.
Studio Software Should Have Useful Reports and Analytics
A feature that showed up again and again as a must-have in our Studio Software Survey was reporting and analytic capabilities. We learned that studio owners want to see the information and data about their business easily and in a way that is understandable to them. Further, studio owners don’t want to have to go digging for information they want to see at snapshot level every single day.
Studio booking and management software typically has a main dashboard, sort of like the homepage of a website. A really nice-to-have feature on this main page is a few key data points or reports about what’s happening right now inside your business. The daily schedule, class attendance, capacity, cancellations, and revenue are a few popular pieces of data you can find on the dashboard.
Beyond what’s shown automatically on the dashboard, studio owners must be able to access metrics about past revenue, retention rates, payroll, and marketing analytics. For example, when you send out an email campaign to win back new clients, you need to know how many people opened the email (open rate), how many clicked through on your call to action (click rate), and how many people made a purchase from those emails (conversion rate).
Having access to reporting and analytics is an imperative for making business decisions. These numbers tell you if what you are doing is working or not. This data informs you on what levers you need to pull in your business to grow.
Do you have classes on the schedule with low attendance? Do you have one that is always waitlisted? Are clients leaving the studio or not visiting enough? Is your revenue stable, growing, or shrinking over time? Did your recent email marketing campaign work or does it need to be refined?
A studio owner can answer all of these questions and more when they have access to reporting and analytics that are useful. And then that studio owner can use that information to grow.
Studio Software Should Have Marketing Capabilities to Grow Your Studio
Many of the studio software programs that are available today have marketing functionality built right into the platform. Must-have marketing features include email campaigns, email automations, and 2-way texting capabilities. Communicating with potential, active, and inactive clients is an absolute must to attract, nurture, and retain your studio community. These built-in marketing features are how a studio owner stays on top of this absolutely essential activity.
There are just as many email and text marketing platforms available to studio owners as there are studio booking and management software systems. Studio owners sometimes opt to use MailChimp, Constant Contact, or another 3rd party email marketing platform. And that works fine for some!
However, many studio owners find a huge advantage with having their marketing and operations functions within a single system. That removes an added layer of complication in integrating two or more systems to work together. Also, having it all in one place allows you to go deeper into your data, talk to the right groups of clients at the right times with ease, and see the results of your efforts, all in one place. And when you communicate directly with your community, revenue increases and you grow your studio business.
These marketing tools go beyond welcome sequences, promotions, and win back campaigns, too. Many studio software systems will make it easy for you to set up class reminders, renewals on memberships and packages, and waitlist notifications, all of which improve your retention and boost studio revenue. With a 2-way texting function, studios can communicate with their clients more easily and directly than ever.
Respondents to our survey praised MindBody for the marketing capabilities that are available, but didn’t love that they were add-on features. Momence and Walla were also called out for superior marketing functionality.
Studio Software Should be Easy for the Client to Use
App fatigue is real and, justifiably, many studio owners stick with whatever studio booking system they are with so that they don’t have to ask their clients to start using something new. That is understandable! However, as a business owner you need to make sure that your studio software is only working for you and your clients, not your clients and every other studio in the area.
A primary concern some studio owners have is when a client logs in to book a class with their studio, they are shown all sorts of other options in the local area, some of which will entice your client with a super cheap class or special offer. This can be averted with customizing an app just for your studio, but of course, that comes with an extra expense in many cases. So, just because your studio software is comfortable for your client, that doesn’t mean it is working for your business.
With that being said, whatever studio booking system you choose must be super, super easy and simple for your clients to use. They should be able to find your schedule, book a class, pay for a package, add themselves to a waitlist, or cancel when life has other plans for them. And they shouldn’t have to jump through a ton of hoops to do it. In fact, if it’s too hard to book, you risk losing that client all together. Many studio owners report changing studio software platforms for this very reason.
Ideally, your studio software will be just as user friendly on a phone, tablet, or computer. Whatever device your client is using, they should be able to book, pay, waitlist, or cancel. They shouldn’t have to re-enter their name and address and phone number every time they book a class. They should be able to get whatever they need done taken care of in just a few clicks or less.
If you don’t like the way your clients experience your studio booking software but you are nervous about changing, rest assured. Your clients will get used to the new system. If you communicate to them why you are changing, so that they can have an easier, simpler way to be a member of your community, they will get fully on board and appreciate the change! The easier it is for your clients to spend money and time in your studio, the more your studio will grow.
You have lots of choices when it comes to studio software. Be sure to evaluate all the ways that your studio booking and management software can help (or hurt!) your studio’s growth.
Think you might need some help growing your studio business with less struggle and more ease? Spring Three can help! Book a complimentary 20-minute chat here.
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