I recently just moved to a new area, and ever since, I have to do a Google search for about anything I want to find. If you look at my search history, it will contain questions like: “What are the best brunch spots near me?”
Imagine you’re touring a city, doing the same, and one of the restaurants that pop-up has a one-star rating, with three reviews stating that the service was terrible and the food quality was not up-to-par for the price. Would you go? Probably not. You haven’t been convinced from others who have had good experiences via word-of-mouth, and you see no positive reviews. The negative review is all you have to base experiences off of, and if you do decide to go, even regular service may seem like it’s not enough because you already have these negative connotations of the place from others in the back of your mind.
It’s the same with your health club. In such a competitive industry, when it comes to attracting new clients, strong reviews are a must. What separates you from your competitor when it comes to a new client? It could be your website, it could be your amenities, but for them to even get into that consideration process (where they’re researching you and looking into your club), your club has to initially attract them through a search engine. And not only do reviews build up credibility, they help with search engine optimization (SEO).
So, what are the steps you can take to creating a strong presence through reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook and Yelp?
Ask for reviews; but, be genuine about it. Don’t bribe your customers with incentives or money. That’s actually very frowned upon by Yelp! Instead, just let them know that you have these online platforms where they can leave reviews, so you build trust with both your current customer and future customers by having real, honest and unbiased reviews. You can do this subtly by just providing a link to your Google, Yelp! or Facebook account on your website.
Respond to both negative and positive comments. If you show concerns when people give you a bad review, it gives them a better chance at possibly coming back in the future to give your club a second chance. If someone replies that the showers are dirty, tell them you appreciate them reaching out, and ask if they remembered the manager on duty. If so, tell them you’ll chat with the manager, and ask for their name and offer some sort of small perk to make them replace that negative experience with a positive one.
And, if they leave positive reviews, reply, and tell them thanks. Don’t use the same copy and pasted reply for each review, either — it seems ingenuine. Instead, personalize it a little. For example, say Tom left a five-star review, stating, “Came to visit this health club from Florida, and it was wonderful! It was extremely clean, there was great equipment and a friendly staff. Thanks for the experience.”
You, as a business owner, may think, “Great, they’re happy!” and find no need to respond. But, responding makes it look like you care, both about that visitor and anyone else who joins or visits your gym. A response could be something along the lines of, “Hey, Tom! Thanks for visiting. Let us know when you’re in the area again, and come have a workout session, on us.”
Responding to reviews may seem like a waste of time, but it is far from that. Not only will it help boost your gym’s SEO, it will also build its credibility and increases the chances of customers picking your gym the next time they do a Google search for the top gyms in the area.