Business Advisor

How to Go Virtual: Tips from the Pike13 Community

Tips from the Pike13 community on how to go virtual with your business. How to adapt virtually, keep clients engaged, adjust client communication and more.

COVID-19 has completely changed the way we live. Around the world, businesses that have traditionally relied on in-person client engagement have had to shift to an entirely virtual business model. 

With no modern precedent for this, it’s understandable that business owners are feeling a lot of uncertainty. That’s why we need our communities more than ever. Below are our best tips for taking your business virtual and maintaining client engagement. We also reached out to some Pike13 business owners who have had success with this shift to see what advice they have to offer to others. 

What changes do you need to make to take your classes virtual?

The shift to 100% virtual is new to almost everyone running an instruction-based business like a fitness studio or music school. But clients have shown they’re willing to try, businesses are seeing success with offering new, virtual services.  

What do you need to take your classes virtual? 

    • A live-stream platform to broadcast your classes. We currently recommend Zoom and are working on ways to connect via Zapier. We are also talking to Intelivideo about a partnership with Pike13 so business owners can offer on-demand videos to clients.

    • A camera to broadcast the stream. Most people are using their laptops or phones, and that’s perfectly fine with clients. If you don’t have a high-tech camera set-up, don’t feel pressured to invest in one.

    • A way to communicate class ‘locations’ to your clients. If a class is hosted online, your clients need to be able to find the link to join. Pike13 has made this easier by adjusting how notes appear to clients and making links more visible. 

Technically speaking, it’s that simple. 

But of course, it’s not always simple to just transfer your class content to a virtual setting and expect it to function as well as an in-person class. Some skills aren’t that easy to teach online. Just ask owner Jimmy Davidson from Freedom In Motion, who points out that “it’s pretty dang hard to teach parkour with what we can safely assume clients have their home!” 

How are businesses adapting to going 100% virtual?

There are challenges to adapting to virtual classes, but several Pike13 business owners, especially within the fitness industry, expressed surprise over how smooth the transition has ultimately been. The biggest change is adjusting workouts to be bodyweight focused instead of relying on equipment that clients might not have at home. 

“We had to adapt the curriculum to home. Most people don’t have a lot of equipment, so that was the biggest step. Everything else was just a slight modification from what we usually do”

– Justin Roth | Owner, Poise Fitness

It’s definitely a lot harder to critique and correct form from a distance. Some owners emphasized the importance of the instructors slowly and clearly showing each move so the client can mirror it. 

“We instruct differently. Cues must be very precise and clear. The instructor must do every move they are teaching. Words are not enough in the virtual teaching world.”

– Danielle Sigrist | Owner, Namaskar Yoga Studios

Another important part of making your virtual sessions successful is asking for feedback from your clients. Was the camera angle on the instructor good? Could they hear alright? Were the instructions clear enough? Could anything have helped make it better? Your clients’ feedback will help you shape your virtual services into something successful that could last beyond COVID-19.

How can Pike13 help you adapt to a virtual business model?

Pike13 is already well-suited for virtual business because it’s entirely cloud-based. We’ve also rolled out several updates and enhancements to make hosting virtual classes easier.

When we asked Pike13 business owners how they’ve been using Pike13 differently since going virtual, the answers ranged from not needing to make any changes at all, to only making slight changes and taking advantage of the recent enhancements to Public Notes to share class links. Not many other adjustments were needed. 

“I didn’t have to make as many changes as I initially feared when facing the challenge. I realized we had an online platform to host class (Zoom) and all we needed to do was adjust Pike13 to handle attendance. So, we created our new class offerings as new services in Pike and then did our usual marketing to our clients for attendance. We take attendance through Pike as our students begin showing up to the Zoom platform. All scheduling, attendance, payroll, etc. works the same. Pretty simple, really.”

– Amy Tynan Chirico | Owner, AerialCLT

“We use Public Notes to get out Zoom links quickly and efficiently. The Pike13 system let us seamlessly transfer our new schedule over and get links to students easily.”

– Jimmy Davidson | Owner, Freedom in Motion 

Visit our Help Center for a guide on setting up virtual classes in Pike13.

How will staff and client interactions change?

The obvious answer here is that all of your staff and client interactions will be virtual instead of in-person. But you might find yourself communicating more than usual. To keep client engagement up, many business owners are communicating more regularly with clients than they used to. And stuck-at-home clients don’t mind. 

“We interact much more regularly with our clients now. We email daily, send at least 2 texts every day and engage with them more in our private, members-only Facebook group.” 

– Leslie Allen | Owner, True Spirit CrossFit

Owner Jess Elsner from Foss Fitness ME wrote that client communication is more important than ever. To her, it’s “one of the few things that still feels normal.”

Of course, there are some things that just can’t be replicated virtually. 

“Hosting online classes doesn't facilitate as many interpersonal conversations. Our studio has an intense focus on community. With an online platform, you can only have 1 person speaking at a time. This means all the little high fives, hugs and conversations happening amongst our students and instructors aren't happening any longer.”

– Amy Tynan Chirico | Owner, AerialCLT

Amy’s frustration is shared by instructors all over the world. And we get it. Virtual services are likely to stick around long after COVID-19 is gone, but we’re all looking forward to getting back to our in-person classes.

How can you keep clients engaged?

In addition to increasing the level of communication, business owners have been getting creative finding ways to keep clients engaged. A lot of their success has to do with maintaining variety in class content and challenges. 

“Since we transitioned to virtual, we have had some kind of daily or weekly challenge. We are just finishing a social media driven 14 day challenge and we are going to start the Quarantine Games here pretty quickly.”

– Leslie Allen | Owner, True Spirit CrossFit

“We have pre-recorded video tutorials, an online learning hub with all the video in one place, daily live training over zoom. We also have an active facebook group where we talk and share with our clients.”

– Jimmy Davidson | Owner, Freedom in Motion 

Other ways our business owners are keeping their clients engaged include:

  • Sending communications through snail mail 
  • Keeping all video resources in one place to make them easy to find
  • Offering free intro services to new clients
  • Sending daily workouts via email 
  • A lot more social media interaction, especially through Facebook

Most clients have been extraordinarily understanding when it comes to adapting to this new, virtual environment. They are more than willing to try this experiment with you, so don’t be afraid to try new things and get creative. And then come back and let us know what’s working in the comments! 

What is surprising about going virtual?  

We asked business owners what has surprised them about going virtual. By far the most common answer we received was surprise at clients’ willingness to try it out, and how easy it has been relative to their initial fears. 

So many instruction-based business owners are happy to have the option of going virtual because they love to teach and don’t want to stop working with their clients, even temporarily. Amy from AerialCLT told us she was surprised at how good it feels to host a class, even if it’s not as great as in-person. She wouldn’t give it up. 

Another point of surprise we’ve heard from some business owners is the realization that they truly like some of the virtual services they’re starting to offer. So much so, that they may keep them around after the COVID-19 threat is over. 

And why not? Virtual services don’t just offer another revenue stream, they open up a huge client base for you since it removes locality as a barrier to your classes. It’s hard to think about when you’re financially struggling now, but all this time you’re spending to hone your virtual content could be a boon to business in the future. 

What advice should other business owners hear?

When we asked our business owners for their #1 piece of advice for other Pike13 business owners trying to get through this pandemic, we were overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the responses. We’re very happy to share some of their wisdom with you: 

“Take it one day at a time. Remember how it was when your business was brand new and just getting started and all the uncertainty around that. You made it through that successfully and you will get through this too as long as you don’t give up.”

– Jess Elsner | Owner, Foss Fitness ME 

“Even though the brick and mortars are closed, online classes are a full time job and require as much, if not more, management and administration. Don’t take it on because it’s easier or will pay your bills. You must be committed to the quality and product of your online presence.” 

– Danielle Sigrist | Owner, Namaskar Yoga Studios

“Keep constant and regular communication going with your clients. They need someone to LEAD them everyday and tell them what to do. They are getting bombarded with noise. Be the one clear signal in their lives.”

– Leslie Allen | Owner, True Spirit CrossFit

“Think about what you really want and talk to your clients about what they really want. For most small businesses, clients are really invested and want to see us get out of this and be able to stay in business when we get back to real life. Talk to those people and see if they have any creative ways that you can mutually support and benefit each other.”

– Amy Tynan Chirico | Owner, Aerial CLT 

“Have a Facebook group, start building your community, and get ready to leverage that to turn into new members once this is over”

– Jimmy Davidson | Owner, Freedom in Motion

It almost feels cheesy to say it, since this phrase is being repeated so often, but we truly are all in this together. We are proud of our Pike13 community, and we’re committed to supporting you through COVID-19 and far beyond it. 

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At Pike13, we're passionate about helping fitness business owners succeed. Our innovative software solutions empower businesses of all sizes to streamline their operations and grow their customer base. Whether you're a small boutique studio or a large gym chain, our platform is designed to help you manage your business more efficiently and effectively.