Where to Start:
Community Engagement to Build Your Clientele

John Dougherty is the Owner of Conquer Fitness in Frisco, Texas.

With a doctorate degree in physical therapy and five years of physical therapy experience, I had always planned on opening my own physical therapy clinic, gym or combination of the two. Three years later, Conquer Fitness offers small group training, semi-private sessions and one-on-one engagement.

We started the business with group training exclusively, and quickly added the other options. Earlier this year, I started offering personal and semi-private athletic training and worked with the Northern Texas PGA to put together a 12-week summer golf program that hosted several competitive junior golfers, making our menu of programs more diverse and expansive than ever.

Growing a business, as we have, requires engagement in one’s community with boots on the ground and face-to-face discussions. Early in the process, just before the pandemic, I set up some ‘lunch and learn’ speeches with various local businesses, sharing time on their turf to raise awareness of my company and build my clientele.

We’d talk fitness, training, nutrition or other relevant topics for 45 minutes or so, and answer some questions afterward. At the end, I would provide an offer to entice them to come to our Conquer Fitness studio and ideally create some long-term relationships. COVID-19 paused these sessions temporarily, but I look forward to re-engaging my current neighbors in Frisco, Texas with some new ones coming soon.

The key aspect of this effort is to demonstrate your expertise and get people to feel comfortable with your business. Meeting and greeting my fellow business professionals at Chamber of Commerce meetings and social events is how a lot of this success started. I did a few ‘lunch and learn’ speeches at a local co-working space after meeting one of their marketing professionals at a Chamber event. These sessions were successful because of the diversity of the audience – some were small business entrepreneurs and others were employees of larger firms working remotely.

With 20-40 individuals at each ‘lunch and learn,’ we’d usually get five or six of them to sign up that day, with several others trickling into our facility at some point in the near future. I always collect email addresses on a sign-up sheet to follow up with information and offers.

As in-person engagement increases, I will mirror this model and take my message to local golf clubs and courses that don’t have their own golf fitness services in an effort to grow participation in my golf fitness programming.

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