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Free vs. Discounted? Pros and Cons of Giving Services Away for Free to Gain Members

Corey Loehr
June 12, 2018
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There are generally two types of intro offers: free and paid. Free offers are ones where you give something away to new members at no cost, like a class or a freebie. Paid offers are heavily discounted packages or classes that new members buy at a fraction of the standard cost. There are both pros and cons to these two types of offers, depending on the type of studio you run and your strategy for getting new members through the door. Don’t make the mistake of picking the wrong offer to run; read this first.

Free Intro Offers

Free intro offers can span from giving away a free class, to even an entire week free of charge. All of these strategies are proven effective, but you have to keep in mind the possibility of customers exploiting your generous offer.


The obvious pro when you’re giving away free offers is that people will come. It’s hard to pass up a free class or a free week at a studio, especially when there’s no catch involved. For customers, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you’re looking to get the largest number of people through your door, offering free intro classes is the best strategy to go with.


The cons of offering free classes have to do with your conversion rates. For a while, your conversion rates will be lower than expected. Since there is no commitment on the side of the customer, there is nothing holding them to convert. They took no risk signing up for your free offer, therefore they don’t feel obligated or pressured to convert. If you choose to offer free classes as a way to get new members to stay on with your studio, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Free intro offers means you’ll have to really impress your leads with stellar facilities, amazing classes, and friendly staff that go above and beyond.How can OneFitStop help your boutique fitness studio? Request a Demo to learn more.

Paid Intro Offers

Paid intro offers include things like a heavily discounted weekly or monthly pass, or buying a monthly pass and getting the first week free. These are considered introductory offers because you are cutting them a deal. Paid intro offers involve new members making an initial financial commitment to your studio for a one-time discount.


The pros of paid intro offers are that your fitness studio gets skin in the game. This means that even if your new members decide to not renew their membership, you still gain revenue. With free intro offers, you could lose a lot if the customer doesn’t end up converting. This is because you’re giving away your time and resources at no cost. Paid intro offers to ensure that your studio will make a partial profit no matter the outcome of the customer’s experience. Customer will also feel like they have made a financial commitment to your studio, giving them a reason to actually go to the classes. Then you can ensure they really know your studio is the perfect place for them.


The cons with paid intro offers are that you’re not going to get as many people through the door. Unless your paid intro offer is ridiculously low like the $1 for 1-day pass model, it’s won't compete with a free offer. However, people willing to pay for an intro offer may be serious customers who are more likely to convert as opposed to those who opt for free offers. Paid intro offers create a mental need in your customer's mind, triggering them to pursue value for the money committed.

How to Choose the Best Intro Offer for Your Studio

The short answer is… it depends. Where is your studio located? Are you a new studio? Are your classes almost at capacity or not? And is there is a lot of competition in your area? Asking yourself these questions can help you figure out what’s the best move. If you’re looking to fill your classes fast, you’ve just recently opened, or there is high competition in your area, try out the free intro pass model. This way you can get a high volume of people into your studio in a relatively short time period. Keep in mind high conversions rates aren’t guaranteed – higher turnout rates will increase your ability to increase conversion.On the other hand, if you’re an established studio, switch for the paid intro offer model. This is for those that have an established, regularly full studio. This way, you can still work on increasing signups, but feel secure bringing in revenue. With the paid intro offer, the customers you do get will be serious and more likely to convert to members.How can OneFitStop help your boutique fitness studio? Request a Demo to learn more.

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