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Volume 26 No. 182
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Tough Mudder Ending Big Discounts, Bringing Customer Service In-House

Tough Mudder plans to abandon aggressive discounting and bring its customer service team in-house with the goal of luring customers back into the troubled mass-participation fitness event industry. The Brooklyn-based company, which spun off its fitness bootcamp business in '18 and saw co-Founder Will Dean leave amid severe cash-flow problems, believes that low retention is due to frustrations with the experience outside of the race itself. "Many of the people who have came in to give it a try and didn't come back weren't leaving because they had a bad experience. They were leaving because the service they received was pretty miserable," said new CEO Kyle McLaughlin. The obstacle race/fun run industry exploded in the early '10s, attracting outside capital that was predicated on continued growth. Participation began to flatline about five years ago, and many operators turned to discounts and did not invest in service. McLaughlin said that has been counterproductive. Starting this offseason, Tough Mudder will bring all customer service functions in-house (they have been outsourced to poor results), end most discounts, post all prices for all events online along with a schedule of when prices increase closer to events and allow buyers to get refunds for 48 hours after they buy. "Many in this space have been addicted to the drug of price manipulation and motivation, and discounts," he said. "We're moving away from this, so we can eliminate customer confusion around what is the value you're receiving for your money." McLaughlin said he expects to be able to add new events back to the schedule next year.