When Clients Have Commitment Issues: How to Fix an Underperforming Class
Posted by Katie Zacharkiw

You spent a lot of time planning out your new class. You thought about the class content, logistics, and instructors. You’re excited about it.

So why isn’t anyone showing up?

Sometimes a class may not perform as well as you need it to. But underperformance doesn’t necessarily mean you should cut the class from your schedule. If you can figure out why clients aren’t engaging, you’re well on your way to solving the problem.

Why classes underperform

When classes underperform your business suffers. There are a lot of reasons a class might struggle, but here are some of the more common ones:

  • The timing is wrong. Think about who your clients are. Does your class schedule line up with their lifestyle? Say, for example, you cater primarily to 9-5 working professionals–a 3pm class probably won’t be very effective, but a 6pm might be popular.

  • The client experience is bad. Maybe the equipment is malfunctioning or physical space is in need of repair. Maybe the instructor isn’t a good fit for your clients. Maybe the class isn’t fun enough. Whatever the reason, your clients just don’t want to be there.

  • Your business offers too many classes. We see this problem especially with new businesses. It may seem like the best way to grow clientele is offer a long list of classes, but this either spreads your clients out too much or overwhelms people trying to browse your schedule. Too much choice is paralyzing, so be sure to streamline your class offerings. Check out this New York Times article to learn more about customer psychology.

  • Commitment is hard. The only thing harder than starting something new is sticking with it. This is especially true for classes in anything performance-based like fitness, music or dance. If you don’t give your clients a reason to come back, they may churn before long-term habits take hold.

How to diagnose the problem

Don’t lose hope if a class is struggling, and don’t just guess the reason why. There are two main ways to figure out why a class isn’t popular with your clients.

Look at your data. Do all of your evening classes thrive while the morning classes struggle? This is most likely because of the lifestyle of your client base. Data will reveal when your clients are interested in your services and what types of classes are popular. That’s where you should concentrate your class offerings. Data also tells you which classes aren’t performing and need to be addressed.

Talk to your clients. This is especially important if the problem is with the client experience. The best way to know what your clients think about your business is to ask them. People love to give their opinions, and you may discover a problem in your business that was previously unknown to you. Talking to your clients is the only way to know for sure what’s preventing them from signing up for a class. Check out this article for tips on how to gather client feedback.

Improve an underperforming class

Once you know what the problem is, the fix might be easy. You may just need to invest in equipment repair, or change the time the class is offered.

But what if the problem is psychological? Your clients’ commitment issues can have a big impact on your bottom line. Luckily, we’ve got a strategy for that.

An on-going class gives no end date, asking a prospective client to “join” your business rather than just visit. That’s a big commitment–would you say yes to someone who proposed on the first date? Faced with commitment, and with no urgency to start since the class is on-going, clients will likely keep putting off enrollment.

That’s your cue to turn your underperforming class into a workshop. Workshops solve both the challenge of encouraging people to get started, and making them feel okay about committing.


  • Workshops have a start date. If your prospect or client doesn’t start now they may have to wait months or a year for the next one (or maybe it’s a one-time thing!).

  • Workshops have an end date. When clients have an end date, they’ll feel more like they’re visiting your business rather than committing to it before they’re ready.

How workshops help your business grow

Workshops offer something fun and new for your existing clients. They’ll be more engaged with your business, and more likely to refer your business to people they know.

For prospects, workshops allow engagement with your business without committing to it. But keep in mind that workshops are the gateway to classes. If prospects like the content of the workshop, they’re probably also interested in the content of your classes. That’s why a good client experience is so critical during the workshop–keep your clients happy and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Used together with classes, workshops improve sign-ups, retention, and satisfaction. When the workshop finishes, encourage attendees to try a class. Delight them, and you’ll gain a loyal long-term client.


Pike13 tracks class and client data so that you can stay on top of the health of your business. See Pike13 in action by requesting a free 20-minute Demo.

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Feature Photo: Leo Reynolds  

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