In today’s “authenticity-first” world, satisfied customers make excellent salespeople for gyms looking to get the word out about their products and services. But is your fitness business doing everything it can to make sure your members are not only leaving reviews but also delivering the positive advocacy you want to convey?

Here’s a closer look at why online reviews matter, and how to leverage them toward your member recruitment and retention initiatives. 

Why Online Reviews Matter

A whopping 86 percent of people read reviews of local businesses, and 91 percent of them trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal’s 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey. Meanwhile, 57 percent of consumers will only use a business with four or more stars. 

These statistics speak to the power of reviews for your fitness business. Simply put: Having poor reviews — or no reviews at all — is a missed opportunity to represent your business as trustworthy. It could be standing between you and your goals. 

Online reviews matter for other reasons, as well. For starters, they can demonstrate your attention to customer service. BrightLocal’s survey also reveals that consumers aren’t just reading reviews; 89 percent of them are also reading businesses’ responses to reviews. The takeaway? If you receive a negative review, this is your opportunity to show that you’re listening and taking steps to improve. 

Finally, online reviews can help boost your ranking with search engines. In reviewing your fitness business, your members will use keywords that will pull your site up more frequently. This improved visibility translates to a higher profile for your fitness business. 

Tips for Increasing Online Reviews

We’ve established that online reviews are critical for today’s fitness businesses. Which begs the question: How do you get your members to write reviews?  

The best way is the simplest and most obvious way: Asking for them in person. While reviews may exist in cyberspace, the member experience happens inside the walls of your fitness center. This also makes your fitness center the ideal place to ask members for a review. 

First, however, consider which of your staff members have the strongest relationships with members. Whether it be the front desk person, a personal trainer, a nutritionist or an instructor, these are people who should be asking for reviews. It’s important to train these employees regarding how to ask for reviews. 

Personal trainer helping a man on equipment.

While face-to-face requests for reviews are typically preferable, asking via email is acceptable, too — particularly if you utilize one trick: pre-screening members via an initial survey. This can help you identify the members most likely to leave positive feedback while also giving you the change to manage members who may be displeased with you. The email should be personal and also include a clear call-to-action link or button. As with all email campaigns, be sure to test it first to evaluate your conversion-to-review rates. 

You can also place a Yelp badge on your fitness business website which lets visitors know you’re listed on Yelp, and that you care about your reputation and welcome their input. 

There’s one last thing to keep in mind about online reviews. The one way above all others to ensure that your fitness business’s reviews will be stellar is simply to provide an exceptional customer experience aimed at consistently and comprehensively exceeding expectations. 

Speaking of exceeding expectations, adopting the latest trends and utilizing cutting-edge technology can help your fitness business come out ahead. Consider the Accurofit System.  Request a demo today to learn what Accurofit can do for you.