Running a successful pilates studio requires a combination of skill, passion and pricing. The first two you’ve got to provide yourself, while the third is a matter of applying some simple strategies.
In this article, we’ll discuss a three tier pricing strategy to price your pilates studio for success.
How to Tell if You’re Not Pricing Properly
There are a couple of tell-tale signs that you aren’t pricing your studio memberships correctly.
The first is that you are working hard, training clients all day and still not making a profit. That tells you that you are selling your time for cheaper than you should be. This is quite different from not being busy and not making enough money. In that case you have a marketing rather than a pricing problem. However, if you’ve already got enough clients to keep you busy, and are still not making enough money, it’s an obvious sign that you aren’t charging those clients enough money.
Another indicator of a pricing problem is using the market as your pricing gauge. Yet this is a common practice. It is built on the assumption that you should be charging the same as your competition. This is not a smart pricing strategy.
Talking about pricing strategies, many studios don’t have one at all. A pricing strategy simply boils down to being intentional about what you are doing. Rather than choosing a membership price because that’s what the studio down the road is charging, it means having solid reasoning behind your pricing.
Before you even start thinking about the amount you should charge your members, it is important to get your head around the concept of value. Value is a subjective concept. So, what Person A values, Person B may not care about at all.
There are many examples of this. One that is pretty topical at the moment is electrical vehicles. Some people see great value in paying nearly twice the price of a gas powered vehicle in order to buy an EV. They perceive the supposed benefits to the environment as being well worth the extra investment. Others think that it is absolutely crazy to pay such a premium price for a car that is no different functionally.
When it comes to developing your pricing strategy, you need to know what your clients see value in. Obviously they all see value in doing a pilates class, or they would never turn up at your door. However, you need to dig deeper and ask yourself what your best clients value.
You see, you aren’t just selling a pilates class. If you have the mindset that you are, it’s like selling homebrand instant coffee or a budget, no frills plane flight. You could, though. be selling the equivalent of premium brand coffee or a first class air flight.
It is the intangibles that surround your basic service that make it valuable. Think of the difference between a budget and first class airfare. The actual core service is exactly the same; whether you’re paying a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars you are going to be sitting on the same plane! But, it’s the extras – the champagne, the service, the extra space and more comfortable environment, the movies and food, that compel people to pay 10X what they could be paying.
For some people, the ability to book classes in advance is something that they will pay extra for. For them, time is more valuable than money. In other words, they will pay money to save time.
Imagine if you only offered the option of booking a week in advance. That would force the busy person to buy out time every week to book their next week’s classes to make sure they don’t miss their spot. However, if you offered that client the option of paying an extra $10 per month to be able to book a month in advance, they would probably take up that offer in order to save time and hassle.
For other people, the ability to book a month in advance will have no value at all. Yet, by offering the option, you cover all bases.
There are many ways to create value that go beyond your core product. If you base your entire marketing strategy on the claim that you are the best pilates instructor in town, you’re going to get lost in the crowd. After all, don’t you think the studio down the road is going to make the same claim?
Here are some ways to improve value for your clients:
Smaller Class Sizes
Offering reduced class sizes, with a set maximum, will be perceived as being of great value to some of your members. Of course, those classes will cost more than a standard class.
Now, it’s important that the extra charge for this service more than compensates for the fact that there are fewer people paying for the class. If it works out to be just the same, then there’s no point going to all the trouble of having smaller class sizes.
A general rule of thumb is that if there are half as many people in the class, the charge should be three times the standard price. While it’s true that the majority of your members will not consider this offer to be good value, some of them will, even if it’s only one in ten.
If you’re just holding a couple of reduced size classes per week, a strike rate of one in ten is all you need to fill the session.
Priority booking allows clients to book a class before everyone else. This ensures that they are never going to miss out because the class is full. Some of your members will pay an extra few dollars each week for this guarantee.
Experience classes are those that create ambience with things like activewear, candles, complimentary tea and water, and incense burning. You might limit the classes to eight beds so you can offer more personal attention.
Some of your clients will pay a bit extra for such an experience and will be willing to pay extra for it. Others want the quickest, cheapest workout possible.
Out of Class Attention
Some clients will pay a premium for extra attention beyond the actual pilates class. This could include a weekly one-on-one zoom session, a personal workout they can do at home, testing their strength and flexibility and nutritional and wellness advice.
Key Takeaway: Rather than having a standardized package for all your members, differentiate to create extra value through intangibles. Set a higher price for this added value.
Your Pricing Strategy
The first step in setting your price is to make the decision about where you want to position yourself in the market. If you choose to position yourself at the lower end of the market, you will need a much higher membership to break even and make a profit. However, your clients will not have as high expectations as if you were to position yourself at the higher end of the market.
On the other hand, if you choose to position yourself at the higher end of the market, your clients will have high expectations in terms of all the auxiliary services you provide. They will expect to be valued as individuals, to have premium bathrooms and showers, and a seamless payment and booking system.
Your pricing strategy should involve having memberships at different price points for different membership options. I have found that three is about the ideal number of pricing options. If you give them much more than that, they tend to get confused and end up buying less. Research tells us that if you increase the buying options beyond three or four, you markedly decrease your closure rate.
Your three membership options should be:
Your goal should be for the majority of your clients to buy the regular membership. Some people will prefer the cheaper option with fewer features and some will want the more expensive one with more features. But, the bulk of people should settle in the middle range.
The difference between a regular and premium class doesn’t have to be huge. It could be that class sizes are reduced, or it allows for priority booking / last minute cancellation with no penalty, or that you will call them once per week to pump up their motivation.
So, how do you know what premium services to provide at the top tier? Rather than just guessing, analyze back over that last year what things people have complained about or struggled with. It could be that class sizes are too big, or that they lack motivation to work out regularly.
If you can’t identify some specific areas that you can build a premium class around, conduct a survey among your members and ask them. Design a quick questionnaire that asks them what frustrates them about your current service, what they wish they could do that they currently can’t and what would make their visits more special.
You should also use this process to improve your service offerings to your budget classes. This could include better providing for students who are money strapped but have quite a lot of time flexibility.
Consider offering them an off-peak membership that was half the price of a normal membership. You could limit it to the specific times that your gym is usually dead. The actual class is exactly the same; it is the time that differs. For a college student with a flexible time table being able to come at 10 in the morning for half the normal price is going to sound like a great deal.
The budget service should be as low maintenance as possible. So, it should involve self service booking and rescheduling, and have far more limited cancellation and membership holiday options.
Here is an example of a three tier pricing strategy that you might consider using:
- Budget = $25 per week
- Regular = $50 per week
- Premium = $100 per week
Don’t be afraid to price your premium package at double the rate of your regular offering. Remember, the main job of the premium package is to drive the potential client to the regular offer. It will look very good value in comparison.
If you only had two options, budget and regular, by default the regular membership is the expensive one. However, when you add a premium option, it becomes the middle of the road option. That is where you want 75% of your potential clients to land. You should, as a result, expect no more than one in ten to take up the premium membership.
Notify Your Clients About a Price Change
If you are going to remodel your prices, you need to give your clients fair warning. Hopefully, you are already providing your clients with a monthly newsletter to keep them up to date with what’s going on at the studio, along with tips and advice.
Have an article in your email newsletter about your new pricing model at least a month in advance. Then send out two or three specific emails about it as the time gets nearer. I find it is a good idea to let them know that they can stockpile their membership at the current rate if they wish (this will be at your new regular rate).
By keeping your clients well informed and clearly explaining the benefits of your new pricing strategy, you will keep them happy and satisfied.
If you are worried that you may lose existing clients if you put your prices up, you can offer them a special rate. For example if you are putting your weekly regular rate up from $40 to $50 per week, you could price it at $45 for existing clients and $50 for new members.
The worst way to price your pilates class is in accordance with what the other studios in your area are doing. You may end up pricing around the same amount, but you shouldn’t choose it because the others are pricing at that amount. Instead, you should work out a three tier payment structure with a basic, regular, and premium rate.
Your rates should be differentiated by intangible value though the actual workout will be very much the same. Your goal should be for the majority of people to choose your mid range option. Finally, don’t be afraid to raise your prices. If you have been providing value to your clients, and provide them with plenty of advanced warning, they will be happy to pay.