Competition is fierce in the fitness industry and it’s likely that yours isn’t the only gym in your local area. In amongst your other online and offline marketing efforts, you do need to look at reputation management and ensure your reputation is in great shape. You can’t leave your reputation to chance and let a single 1-star review take over your online perception.
But there are ways to use reputation management for fitness centers and make sure people think highly of your gym.
In this article, we’re going to look at why your reputation matters and how you can build and maintain an amazing 5-star reputation for your gym.
Why Your Online Reputation Matters
You know yourself, whether you’re choosing a bricklayer or someone to bake a birthday cake, you’re going to go for someone with a great reputation, not the guy or gal with only two stars on their Google Business Profile and a reputation for late delivery and a bad attitude. And it’s just the same when people choose a gym.
Potential customers will talk to people they know for gym recommendations, and they’ll also look at reviews and star ratings online. They may also check you out on social media to get a sense of who you are as a business and what your gym is going to be like.
If they don’t like what they see, they will choose to go elsewhere.
And it’s not just customers that might opt to go elsewhere. You also need to employ the best of the best when it comes to staff and personal trainers, and they too could be put off if your online reputation isn’t all it should be. Or if you’re looking for investment, your online reputation might be what makes the difference between an enthusiastic “yes” or an absolute “no”.
A poor reputation really does have a knock-on effect in all areas of your business.
Knowing that’s the case, it becomes ever more important to manage your online presence and your reviews and star ratings.
Building Blocks for Your Online Reputation
Below we’re going to look at four tips for reputation management for fitness centers. However, while these tips can help, they only work if your business and your website are in excellent shape.
Before you follow our tips and start to polish your reputation, take a thorough look at your business. There’s always room to improve and learn, but are there any areas that current customers aren’t happy with? Is joining your gym easy? Are there enough appointments available for new customers? Is there enough room in each class and enough equipment for the number of attendees? Is it easy to contact the gym and get questions answered? How responsive are your staff to phone calls and emails? Is there a smooth billing and cancellation process for subscriptions? How knowledgeable are your staff and personal trainers and are they up to the mark on customer service?
All of these questions and more could be sticking points that cause customer unhappiness and lead to poor reviews. Before you go chasing more reviews, make sure your gym is all it can be when it comes to an excellent customer experience. You’ll find you get far better reviews when you do start requesting them if everything is as it should be.
When you’ve checked your business, turn your attention to your website.
Is it welcoming, well-designed, and easy to navigate? Does it guide visitors through the customer journey smoothly and is it easy for people to find all the information they need? Do you have clear contact information and calls to action so people know what their next step is? Do you include great reviews on your site so that people can see what a good experience others are having at your gym?
While you’re checking your site, check your site speed too, and make sure it performs just as well on mobiles and other devices as it does on laptops and desktop computers. A fast-performing site that works on multiple devices will be ranked higher in the search engines for better visibility.
Next, look at your social media presence. Does it reflect your brand and is your tone of voice consistent on both your website and your social platforms? Are you clear about what you do and what services you offer? Is it easy to contact you on social media and are you making sure you respond to comments and direct messages?
As well as looking at review sites for information, your potential customers are likely to check out your social media and your website to see if you offer what they want. Either one could be the first time your leads have ever found you online and both need to present a great impression and a smooth customer experience.
All of these things must be in place to create an excellent impression of your gym and to ensure that potential customers don’t struggle to find the information that they need.
4 Essential Tips for a Reputation Management Strategy
Get these right and you are setting the foundations for receiving great reviews for your gym.
1) Claim your listings on review sites and directories
Listing your business on the right review sites and directories can really help your gym get found in search engines. In addition, many directories will also include your reviews and allow you to add posts, offers, quality images, and more to give an excellent impression of your business.
One further benefit of being listed on these sites is that it adds a level of verification to your business in the eyes of potential customers and search engines. Suppose your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information is correct on your website, your social media, and across every review site and directory you have a presence on. In that case, that’s confirmation that your business is genuine and that they’ve found the business they are looking for. The more Google can confirm your business details, the more they will have confidence that you are trustworthy and the more they will feel comfortable listing you higher in the search engine rankings. Potential customers also want to see consistency and great content on these sites. It’s reassuring that they’re dealing with a professional gym.
Even the smallest detail wrong in your NAP info can cause doubt and make customers wonder if they’re looking at a different business, so it is essential to get that right.
So, where should you claim your listings?
There are whole hosts of directories and review sites across the internet, but here are the main review or directory sites that you’d want to be found on:
- Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile in particular is a great way to get more attention from Google and from potential customers. You can claim your profile and verify your business with Google. Then you have access to various sections on your profile that you can fill in with top-quality, well-keyworded content and images. You can show off your gym equipment, take photos of your staff, show shots of the front of your gym building so it’s easy for people to find, and more. You can also post your latest news, add offers, interact with customers, and request reviews and respond to them. This really is an excellent option for gaining visibility and social proof and building that all-important reputation.
That doesn’t mean that you should only list yourself on these sites. All reputable directories or review sites will help you establish trust and social proof via reviews. You could also try listing on Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Thumbtack, and more.
While registering on multiple sites might sound like a lot of work – and it can be if you complete each site manually – there is a quicker way to do this. Instead of signing up to each individual site, then logging in, repeating your details, and uploading images and info on each directory, why not try Surefire Local’s all-in-one marketing platform, where you can update over 80 directory listings all in one go?
This saves you time and effort and ensures that each listing has identical information, reducing errors.
2) Be proactive in asking for reviews
When customers visit your site, directories, or your social media, they’re going to look at your reviews. They’re interested in your average star rating, and many people won’t even think about using a business that has less than four stars. They also want to know what sort of experiences other people have had with your business. While online reviews haven’t entirely replaced word-of-mouth recommendations, it does work best for your gym if you encourage both. You’ll get the best results if you have frequently posted and recent online reviews, along with a strong contingent of customers who tell everyone which gym they go to and why they should give it a try.
The other factor in getting reviews is that potential customers don’t care about that amazing five-star review you had last December. They want to know what your gym is like now. People tend to only look at the most recent, newest reviews and if you haven’t had any for a while, they will notice.
What that means is that you can’t sit back and wait for people to write reviews for you. You have to actively ask people to leave a review.
When is the best time to do that? When they’ve just had an awesome workout and they’re loving you. When’s the next best time to ask? Now, if you haven’t already done so.
You can ask people in person when they’re leaving the gym, ask them when they’re chatting to you on the phone, text them, or send them an email.
But it doesn’t stop there. Be creative. You can add a link to your most needed review sites in your email signatures, have cards with WR codes at reception for people to take with them, include a review request each time you issue a new weekly or monthly class schedule, include review requests on your website, and more.
It’s equally important to train your staff and make sure they know the importance of a great review and how to ask for them.
3) Respond to reviews — and do so promptly
As well as seeing plenty of fresh, recent reviews, potential customers and existing customers really like to see you responding to reviews. If you interact with your reviewers, you’re building up a rapport with people who are likely to feel good about you, even potentially people that left you a negative review.
Make a point of thanking people for leaving a great review. Use the same brand tone of voice as you would anywhere else online. Be friendly, chatty, cheerleading, or gung-ho, in tone, just as you would in the gym, in your emails, or online.
No one likes a poor review, but it is inevitable that you’ll get the odd one, no matter how good you are, because it’s impossible to please everyone. In fact, you shouldn’t even try! Focus on your tribe, on the kind of people you want to attract to your gym. If you know your audience (and you should if you’re going to market well to them) you know what appeals to your ideal customers. You know what they want to hear, why they want to come to the gym, and what they want to get out of it. And if you know that, you also know exactly what to say to them. You can speak their language and make them feel a part of something.
You’ll always get someone who doesn’t get what you’re trying to do with your gym, and that’s okay. Those people are not your people. Instead of trying to persuade them and wasting time, focus on the ones who really do get you and appreciate you.
With that said, it’s vital that you do respond to negative reviews. It’s possible, if you’re careful, to turn a negative reviewer around into someone that becomes a fan. You may even be able to resolve their issue and get them to remove the negative review or update it to be more positive. As long as you take responsibility if there is a genuine issue and apologize, you may be able to diffuse the situation and get a good resolution out of it. If you can’t, if the reviewer continues to argue with you, offer to speak to them on the phone and don’t try to argue back in public. Take a breath, bite your tongue, and politely offer them a phone number so they can speak to you in person. That way, anything potentially damaging that gets said isn’t displayed on the internet for other potential customers to read. And, if you keep your temper and keep on offering to resolve the situation offline, they are the ones that start to look unreasonable, not you.
Negative reviews can be good for you in that you can get great, honest feedback that helps you improve areas of your business. Handled correctly – and quickly! – you can present a great impression to anyone who looks at your review pages. They can see how you handle negative feedback and form a good impression of you from that.
Yes, five-star reviews are what you want, but don’t give up or hide your head in the sand if you get the odd poor review.
4) Monitor your online reputation
It’s not enough to get reviews on a consistent basis. You also need to keep an eye on what people are saying about your gym and ensure that you know when you get new reviews so that you can respond to them. It’s too important that you reply quickly, especially to negative reviews, for you to miss any reviews that come in.
You can monitor your social media and keep an eye on what people are saying by looking at the comments and questions people are posting. These comments and your reviews can be an excellent source of feedback on what people like and dislike about your gym, so you can make improvements. You’ll also learn what people want more of, which is extremely helpful when planning new classes, looking at new equipment, or thinking about updating your facilities.
If you’re not monitoring your online reputation and feedback, you really are missing out on some excellent input that could help your gym grow and thrive.
There can be a lot of work involved in acquiring new reviews and monitoring your online reputation. You can spend a lot of time logging into and out of different sites and manually updating directories.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Why not attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo and see how much time we can save you?
We can assist with review requests, automate follow-up reminders, and you can respond to your reviews all from one place. There’s no need to leave our dashboard to reply to your reviews, and you can update over 80 business directories, including Google Business Profile from our software.
You can also run brand sentiment analysis to find out how your clients really feel about your gym.
And those are only some of the features you’ll find on our platform. You can manage everything from your emails and social platforms to your content creation. Reports will keep you up to date with how your marketing efforts are going, and you can either manage everything yourself or hire one of our marketing experts to take care of things for you. Reputation management for fitness centers doesn’t have to be hard with Surefire Local in your corner. Check out a demo of our marketing software today!