Recently, We spoke with YuBalance owner, Shala Harris, about how she started her neighborhood fitness studio. Read on to learn:

  • Her strategy for getting new members
  • How she differentiated YuBalance from other studios
  • How the YuBalance team uses Perkville to increase customer retention

How did you get started in this business?

I got started three years ago with my partner Rory, who is also the owner and lead trainer at YuBalance. We noticed an opening in the market for people who wanted to lift weights, but didn't enjoy unkept, crowded gyms. We decided to address this need by offering a neighborhood fitness studio that doesn't look or feel like a gym even though we offer high intensity total body circuits.

How has the business been doing?

We’ve seen consistent growth since we opened growing 50% each year. Our success was aided by our relationships with advisors, particularly in marketing and finance. We also improved by moving away from third-party, deal sites for advertising.

What are your goals for the business?

We plan to open a second studio in a neighborhood that is underserved in the fitness realm. What makes our brand unique is YuBalance is a neighborhood fitness studio. So we find it important to be accessible to everyone in the San Francisco community, especially traditionally underserved groups such as minorities.

What marketing strategies have been helpful and not helpful for your business?

Having a new client promotion gets people in the door. Our promotions range from $20 to $40 because our marketing advisor noted people are easily willing to spend at that price point to try something new, and it works.

We also use sidewalk signage to advertise to people walking by. Many people don’t feel comfortable enough to come and ask questions. So providing material outside the studio that they can take with them has been a great way to reach prospects.

As mentioned, third-party sites don’t work for our business. We noticed people using deal sites were traveling far distances only because of the deal. They were unlikely to stay when the deal was over. Since we eliminated deal sites, the number of leads went down, but the quality of leads increased. We attract more people who live in the neighborhood, and are legitimately interested in our services. We also save money because the studio no longer splits revenue from promotions with the deal companies.

How would you say Perkville has impacted your business?

Perkville has helped us maintain our brand promise of thanking our community and giving back. We noticed we were becoming less personalized as we grew. With Perkville, we can acknowledge every member’s hard work, and give them rewards they appreciate such as a free T-Shirt. It’s not uncommon for a member to feel proud about their reward, and post on social media when they redeem which is great advertising for us.

Perkville also made my job easier. Clients previously emailed us asking for a no-show or late-cancel fee waiver. Now they come in and earn these waivers through the rewards program which greatly reduced the amount of emails I get.

What has been successful at the business in getting customers to participate in the program?

The Time Bonus feature has been great for engagement. It drives members to take classes at specific times. When we hire new teachers, we use the Time Bonus feature to fill up their classes.

Our members also like referring friends for points. We can easily view who referred who in Perkville, and be proactive about thanking the member, and checking to see if their friend enjoyed the class.

What’s your most popular reward?

The no-show or late-cancel fee waiver is our most popular reward. However, some people are saving up for the private party with a complimentary champagne toast reward.

What software programs would you recommend to other studio owners?

I use and recommend MINDBODY for a scheduling system. I like how they continue to improve their product. I recommend Canva for marketing material or printed material. I also recommend Quickbook for payroll.

Do you have advice for someone who is starting out or trying to grow a studio?

My advice is to focus on creating relationships with your customers. We still have clients who have been with us since we opened, as well as, clients who travel from afar to use our services. This is because of the relationships we’ve built.