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How to Develop a Questionnaire

Fine-tune your Pilates programming with direct questions that help you gather data.

Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what your clients want and need from you? If you are like most Pilates studio owners, you probably can’t invest a lot of money in complex statistical computer models or market research to gather data about your clientele. However, you should still collect this information on your own. For gathering data about your customers and their programming needs, there are many vehicles, including focus groups, experimental research or questionnaires.

This article focuses on how to develop a questionnaire or survey. This simple tool can help you learn more about your clients’ needs, preferences, satisfaction levels and knowledge of your services. The responses will reflect the ever-changing feelings and needs of people who are constantly influenced by many subjective factors. Therefore, it is important to gather facts in an organized manner with specific goals in mind.

Understanding what your customers need will help you create offerings that are both attractive and valued. Conducting surveys will reduce programming missteps based on poor assumptions; most likely, you will also discover new opportunities.

Step 1: Create a Plan

Design your questions thoughtfully. The form, wording and sequence of questions can all influence the response you receive. Questions may be closed-ended or open-ended. Closed-ended questions, like a multiple-choice examination, specify all possible answers. The advantage of this approach is the ease of tabulation and interpretation. Open-ended questions, like a short-answer examination, allow respondents to answer in their own words. This approach can be considered “exploratory research” and is beneficial when you need to gain insight into what your clients are thinking.

Tips for Designing Questionnaires

  1. Include clear instructions for answering all questions.
  2. Use brief, simple questions.
  3. Begin with general questions, and then move toward more specific questions.
  4. Check the questions for “ease of reading,” and correct any grammatical errors.
  5. Have a friend read the entire questionnaire to double-check for errors and readability.

Sample Questions

1. Please circle your preference for a mat class time:

a. 6:00 AM

b. 8:00 AM

c. 9:30 AM

d. 12:00 NOON

e. 5:00 PM

f. Other: ________________________

2. With regard to your selection above, which day of the week would you prefer for this new class time?

a. Monday

b. Tuesday

c. Wednesday

d. Thursday

e. Friday

f. Saturday

g. Sunday

3. What is your preferred studio equipment? (You may select more than one item.)

a. Pilates ring

b. cadillac

c. reformer

d. chair

e. None, I prefer mat-based classes.

f. Other: ________________________

4. Please indicate your preferred session or class size:

a. solo sessions

b. duo sessions

c. small classes (≤ 5 students)

d. midsized classes (5–15 students)

e. large classes (> 15 students)

f. Class size does not matter to me.

5. Would you be interested in any of the following classes for special populations?

a. Prenatal Pilates

b. Postnatal Pilates

c. Pilates for Arthritis

d. Pilates for Sports Conditioning

e. Pilates for Weight Loss

f. Other: ______________________________

Step 2: Collect the Data

Options for collecting information include mailings, telephone interviews, personal interviews or online surveys. Your selection will depend on your clientele. A few questions to consider: Are your clients Web-savvy? Do they have home telephone lines? Would they prefer a personal one-on-one interaction to express their thoughts? If your clientele is Web-savvy, consider using a free online survey tool, such as SurveyMonkey or StellarSurvey. If you can conduct the survey online, data collection and analysis happen at the click of a mouse and can show you graphs and pie charts that give real clarity to your results. This approach also saves a lot of time.

Step 3: Analyze the Data

Once you have gathered questionnaires from multiple respondents and have the data in your hands, it is time to do some calculations. Use a simple counting technique to calculate the frequency of each answer choice. For example, below is an analysis of the first sample question.

1. Please circle your preference for a mat class time:

a. 6:00 AM \\ 4
b. 8:00 AM \\\\\ 10
c. 9:30 AM \\\\\\\\\\ 21
d. 12:00 NOON \\\\\ 11
e. 5:00 PM \\ 4
f. other 7:00 PM (\) 8:00 PM (\) 3, 2

Look for relevant information, including common opinions and customer needs. For example, if 20 respondents preferred morning classes and three preferred evenings, it would not be effective to schedule 5:30 PM classes. When possible, quantify your results and calculate percentages for each question.

Step 4: Make Decisions

Feel confident that you can make informed decisions from this analysis. A common mistake is to listen to the squeaky wheel and ignore the quiet majority. If one or two students make their requests loudly but your data show that their suggestion will hurt your bottom line, it is best not to implement that change. Look for changes that will benefit the majority of clients and match your programming capabilities. Commonly, customers have needs that owners and directors don’t always anticipate; using questionnaires will allow you to better uncover these needs.

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