I was recently talking with a studio owner who is suffering from the “I don’t have enough time for everything” blues, as so many small business owners and self-employed people do. By the time he arrives home after 9:00 pm , his wife and kids are asleep in bed. He’s missed out on time with them. He’s physically exhausted and wants only to go to sleep. But he just gets up the next day to do the same thing.
So I asked him, “What do you do during a typical day?”
He told me about how yesterday morning he got to the studio at 7:00 to teach a morning class, then he spent an hour talking to a student about different advanced training options. He answered emails and phone call inquiries, he worked for a couple of hours on a presentation he promised to give for the local rotary club. Finally, he finished more emails and then his day was over. I asked him about the presentation he agreed to give for the Rotary Club – when he said “Yes, I can help with that.” I asked if he realized that when he said “Yes” he was saying “No” at the same time.
You see, we all have the amazing gift of 24 hours in each day. I can use these hours for whatever I choose (there are consequences, of course, but for the most part it is up to me). Most often we cannot do two different things with the same given hour of our day. This may sounds obvious, but let’s go back to the man I was working with.
I asked what he said “No” to when he accepted the rotary club’s request. He looked confused. When he decided to commit two hours to preparing a presentation (not to mention the time he’ll spend giving it), he had inadvertently decided to not spend those two hours on something else. As we talked through this, he discovered he would get home an hour and a half later and neglect calling back several potential new students during the day. In other words, as he said “Sure, I’ll help with the fundraiser,” he also said to his wife and kids “No, I won’t spend dinnertime with you tonight” He also had said “No, I will not pursue more new students.” (Which, by the way, he desperately needed to do).
When he really considered it, he realized that there were plenty of others who would have cheerfully signed up the presentation task. He only said “Yes” because he was asked. He didn’t feel free to say “No” in that moment. In effect, he traded the precious time he could have spent with his family for something that didn’t really matter to him that much (and that would have been done by someone else anyway).
How does this play out in your life? When you decide to spend time on something in response to someone’s request, do you ask yourself “What am I saying ‘No’ to in order to say ‘Yes’ to this?” Try this for just one day and see what you come up with. Of course, it doesn’t just apply to saying ‘Yes’ to requests from others – it can be to work you commit to yourself. But one of the most challenging areas for most people is dealing with requests from others. Much of our time is spent in this area, then later wishing we hadn’t. So, what will you be asked to say ‘yes’ to today?
Before you answer such a request, first ask yourself:
a) “How long will it take?”
b) “What am I saying ‘No’ to in order to have this time?”
I wish you the best in finding more time for what really matters most to you in your studio and, in your life.
With year in full swing, things change in our communities. Some people are following through with New Years resolutions, but most, others take on new projects. Some just relax. I live in a college town along the Central California coast. This means that half the city (about 17,000 students) leaves during the summer. But as a coastal community, thousands of tourists descend upon us at the same time. I think the average age in the area changes from 21 years old to about 50 during the summer. This transition can make it hard for businesses, including yoga studios, to offer products and service that appeal to their customers. Fore example, a 20-year old college student likes a restaurant that has lunch for under $5, has surfboards hanging from the ceiling and plays “happening” music, while a 50-year old couple might prefer to dine at a place with tablecloths and fine wine, while having little concern for price. Like I said, it’s hard for businesses around here.
But in most cities businesses have a much easier time. In most areas, the clientele don’t change a lot during the year. However, we can learn a great deal from carefully considering the type of student or customer we are serving. You see, what classes you offer should not be based on what you are interested in or what you like to teach, it should depend almost entirely on what your potential students want or need. Most studio owners believe that if they do a good job at teaching their classes, people will learn of their studio and business will increase. In reality, this works on rare occasion. The truth is that many studios struggle because the classes they offer are only valued by a small number of people out there, and if they offered (and effectively marketed) other classes, they would have many more students.
There are two things every business must do in order to be successful:
You must provide products and services in line with the company’s vision or mission.
You must make money (or you will not be able to do #1 for very long)
Most often, studio owners ask me questions about #2, so I’ll assume you have the first one handled pretty well. So, here’s the deal. We must figure out what kind of yoga is really of value to the people in the community. There are four simple steps to achieving #2 successfully:
Find out what people want
Get it (or create it)
Let them know you have it
Give it to them
Most studios fail to “Find out what they want.” Think about the restaurants I talked about earlier. If you are serving food to college students, you know that their top two desires are low prices and hanging out with friends. The most successful college restaurants offer students discounts and also have student parties, beer nights, “study break” specials, etc. They circulate coupons around campus and sponsor college clubs (to gain loyalty from members).
Now let’s take this concept to your studio. What are the primary “groups” in your community, and what is important to them. For example, if you are in an upscale retirement community, you may want to offer gentle yoga for seniors. But call it “Staying in shape over 60” or “Fitness for the Golden Years.” Give a free class for seniors. Promote it through the local senior center and senior publications (even give one at the senior center). At the end, give seniors the opportunity to sign up for a 4-session workshop just for folks their age. Have tea and cookies afterwards. Create what I call “The Exceptional Experience.” (Note, if you have the Home Study Studio Success Program, this is covered in more detail in Session #4. See http://www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm)
Remember, these are people who would have had no interest in yoga before. They are only there because it would serve some need of theirs (staying in shape, improved flexibility, reduced joint pain, etc.) Be sure that you focus on promoting these needs. The fact that it is yoga is of very little interest to them (please, don’t take this personally, they just don’t know anything about it yet). We’ve just looked at an example of offering gentle yoga to seniors, but we’re packaging and presenting it in a way that let’s them see how it will benefit them personally.
Now let’s attract many different kinds of students. First, we need to pick the group to target (make sure there are a lot of them). If you live in a community with lots of kids, then pre and post-natal are great (be sure to offer child care during classes – team up with the daycare center around the corner if you need to). Remember, it’s not “pre-natal yoga” that you want to offer. What these people really want is “Easier Childbirth Yoga” or “Natural Childbirth Yoga.” Be sure to explain what the class is when you promote it: “Many women have had easier, less painful, natural birthing experiences by having practiced yoga just twice a week. Come experience a no-cost introductory workshop. No prior yoga experience needed.”
This same idea applies to anything from “Yoga for Rock Climbers” to “Losing Weight for Summer with Yoga.” Pick your niche. Describe it in language that appeals to the people you’re targeting (keep it informal and down to earth). Then promote it directly to these people. If it’s for rock climbers, go to a local climbing club meeting and arrange a business alliance with the local climber’s equipment store and also the climbing gym. For weight loss, you’ll find your potential students at Weight Watchers, Overeater’s Anonymous meetings, plus size stores, etc. (If you have the Home Study Studio Success Program, review session #7 for more details on implementing this. See http://www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm)
The key is to pick a niche that already exists in your community, identify a problem or need of theirs that yoga can help with, let them know you can solve this problem and finally give them a class they can try out. It’s pretty straightforward, but does take some effort to implement. Many studios, not to mention other businesses, have used this formula with great success. Best of luck until next month.
Before I go into the topic of the day, I wanted to mention that a number of people have told me that they liked the old text newsletters better than the videos. So, I’m going to do both. Today, I’ve got a video, but also am including a text summary below it. So, if you like the videos, keep watching. If reading is more your thing, scroll down. My thanks to everyone for your feedback!
The holidays bring us the full range of emotions. Some people look forward to them all year, for others they can’t wait until they’re over. While we each have our own perspective on what the holidays mean, when you’re running a business, what really matters is what your students and clients think and feel (not you).
So, by understanding their needs better, you can offer them numerous great ways to improve their lives while increasing revenue for your studio at the same time.
How can you bring more students into your yoga studio this holiday season? First, you need to understand what motivates people to come to your studio during this time of year. Here are the key reasons:
They need to buy a gift and don’t know what to get
They are moved to give to others
They are making New Years resolutions
They are “challenged” emotionally by some aspect of the holiday experience and need to release emotions and reduce stress
With these four motivators in mind, the next step is to select ways to promote your studio’s services and products in a way that will help people with these things.
Here’s a list of ideas I’ve collected over the years. Some are common, others not. Pick the ones that are likely to generate the most money with the least effort. Remember: Business is experimental – not all of them work for every studio. But, at least some of them will work for yours.
1. Yoga 101 gift packages. Yoga 101 is a 4-6 session intro series that is your primary path for new students to get totally hooked on your studio (Probably the single most powerful strategy that I recommend). Sell gift packages that include enrollment in the yoga 101 series, a mat and a yoga CD. Package them nicely and suggest people get them for their friends and family who they know will love yoga. (For more details on implementing Yoga 101 and similar “power strategies” for getting new students and keeping them, you may be interested in the Studio Success Program at http://www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm)
2. Send out regular emails to let your current students know about these holiday specials. Pick a couple of specials (like gift certificates or Yoga 101 gift packages) and focus a single email on each of them. Make it an offer that’s good only for 2 days. Even mention it’s only for the first 25 people who buy them.
Emails for these, as well as emails that contain multiple holiday specials, can go out every 4-5 days until Dec. 19th. Then every 2 days until Christmas. Finally, send out a couple of “New Years resolution” ones on the 29th and the 1st. Incidentally, if you’re organized, you can have all these promotions prepared and scheduled to be automatically sent out weeks before the holidays. You don’t even need to be in town to do this (I recommend icontact.com in the Studio Success Program, and have gotten nothing but positive feedback from folks about it). In any case, however you get the emails out, DO get them out.
3. Buy-one get one free. You can do this with merchandise and certain classes. For example: Buy a 6 month unlimited package and get a free 10 class gift card. Or, Buy a 50 class card and get a free 5 class gift card. The “gift card” is a class card that comes with a holiday card (like the gift certificates). Not only does it give an incentive to the purchaser, but it encourages them to give it to someone who may not have considered your studio on their own, but who may become a student after they do.
4. Gift certificates. People often don’t know what to buy. If you offer them, people will buy them. Make them flexible so they can be used on classes, workshops, merchandise, etc. When they are redeemed, you will accept them just like cash. Consider a discount on them (like 5-10% off face value), since they can bring in new business. Make sure you have a sign by your check-in area promoting them. Offer them on the main page of your web site (so everyone checking the schedule sees them).
5. Take phone orders on gift certificates , mail them to the recipient with a “personalized” holiday card. If you do media advertising, you can advertise this. Ideal for someone who doesn’t want to go out and buy a gift. It’s like sending flowers. Someone calls, tells you the amount of the gift certificate, what they want the card to say and who to send it to. They pay via credit card over the phone.
Offer special holiday workshops. These are one-time yoga classes that give people something help them relax after they’ve been at the mall fighting to get last minute gifts or at aunt Edith’s for Thanksgiving and Uncle Harry is arguing politics with everyone one and it feels like being in a zoo. Give people some tools for going to a place of peace and centeredness amidst the chaos. Advertise workshops with names like:
“Finding peace and balance amidst holiday chaos”
“Escape from the holiday rush”
“Getting centered for the holidays”
7. Discount for auto-renew memberships. This one is very effective – it keeps people from letting yoga slip out of their busy lives, and it allows more consistent income for your studio. You automatically charge someone’s credit card at the end of the term for unlimited packages. It can even be applied to class cards (when the card is used up, you charge them for another one and have it waiting at the front desk when they finish the class). Give a 10-20% holiday discount on the first purchase that they apply auto-renew to.
8. New Years resolution program. Create special classes or workshops to help support people with New Years resolutions. After all, most of us can use all the help we can get. Consider things like:
• Fitness – “Did you make a resolution to get in shape for the new year? Have fun and reduce stress while you’re doing it.”
• Stress reduction – “Make this year one that’s relaxing and free from stress.”
• Pain reduction – “Bad back? Make this year free from back pain.”
9. Offer “private classes” for parties and celebrations that holistically-oriented organizations or people might give. Make them very low cost. They are intended to introduce you to new potential students. Then, give away coupons for a free class at the event.
10. Advertise holiday specials on your web site. Many people these days use the internet like they used to use the yellow pages. Make sure yours looks good and has your holiday specials on the main page so people see them even if just looking for the schedule.
11. Donate on-site yoga classes to charity events. At the event, you give away the promotional “postcards” or fliers. Attached to each one should be a coupon for a free yoga class (yes, even if you already offer the first class for free for everyone).
12. Offer one-time free holiday classes for people who are totally new to yoga. Specifically advertise them as being for people who “don’t know one end of the mat from the other.” Make it clear that it is for total beginners who are just curious. Have them call to reserve a spot, or just show up. Mention that space is limited, so they reserve a spot to be sure. People are more likely to value something that they think is in high demand or “limited.”
13. If you do retreats, offer an “after the holidays” retreat or “Vitality for the new year” retreat.
14. Donate 10-25% of proceeds from a certain type of sale or purchase (e.g. all class cards) to a charity that yoga-oriented people are likely to support. Local charities are best.
15. Holiday discounts on longer-term packages . Perhaps a yearly unlimited for $899 or $999. Often, these are the kind of people you want in your studio – they make your studio look good and promote you to others. For most studios (depending on pricing and how you pay teachers), this will earn as much or more than if the same person just got short-term class cards.
16. Give out promotional “postcards” to business that serve the same clientele. These look like postcards, but aren’t – they have a picture of someone in a nice, beginner pose along with some info on what benefits people get from yoga. These should have some type of “holiday special” on them. Be sure to have your phone number, address, web site and email clearly printed. Businesses that sell products to similar types of customers (health food stores, natural medicine centers, etc.) will often let you leave a stack of cards.
17. Have “Special” free holiday yoga classes for people with particular problems. The idea is to introduce yoga to people who will benefit from it, but don’t realize it yet. You can target groups like new moms, people with bad backs, etc. Make it clear that they are intended for people with little or no yoga experience.
I’m back! I’ve been out of touch for a while, but for a good reason (I’ll explain it in the video).
So, one of the biggest issues studio owners ask for advice on is getting potential students to come in for a class, as well as getting new students to come back. There are certain reasons most students come to your studio in the first place (no, it’s not really to do yoga) and understanding this will help you to get them to become regular students and come back.
In today’s video, I’ll share an experience I recently had where the front desk staff totally blew it by turning me from someone who was ready to write a check into someone who will probably never return. So many studios do just this without realizing it (Does yours?). I’ll take you through the steps of doing it right so that you get those students to come back again and again.
My name is Carla, I’m a yoga teacher in Prince George BC. I just
recently purchased your homestudy Yoga Studio Success course and am enjoying it very much.
I have a question that I was hoping would be answered during class 2,
but no one seemed to ask! When you have multiple renters come to the
studio (we do a bit of that already), is the normal protocol to give
everyone a key, which essentially means access anytime – or is
offering your space for rentals only really feasible if you have
someone on staff throughout the day to let people in. In the past we
have been very trusting (and continue to be) with giving people keys,
but if we plan to increase the number of renters, I am hesitant about
having all sorts of keys out there. I know our landlord would also not
be thrilled with this.
Good question. Your goal is to let renters enter and exit on their own. But…you don’t want them to get into your private space. Many studios put a lock on the door of any space renters shouldn’t enter.
However, recognize that if you screen someone decently, it’s pretty rare to have problems. I mean sure, they can steal straps and blocks and stuff like that, but if they are renting with a legitimate purpose, this kind of thing is unlikely. Also, remember, they have left you a deposit, so if anything is missing, they know they are going to pay for it. Basically, the rule is, for things like private files, money, and such, make sure they are locked up. Computers should either be locked up or password-protected (and don’t leave critical data on them if they are in a public area). Big stuff like furniture and props are generally not a concern.
Remember, your renter is responsible for leaving the space as they find it. If you’re not confident about leaving them there alone, you can always have someone hang out during the first couple of times to make sure they’re responsible.
Overall, it works smoothly for most studios who rent space – it’s relatively rare to have theft or damage problems.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve noticed that people make the decision to come to your studio in different ways than they used to. In the United States during 2009 it is estimated that approximately 80% of all buying decisions began online (even if they were completed over the phone or in person). If you’re not making good use of the internet to get new students, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity.
And, I don’t just mean that you should have a website. That’s a given.
Today I’m going to talk about email marketing. I’ll show you how you can easily and cheaply use email to get more students into your studio without irritating people AND without a whole lot of extra work once you have it set up. Check out the video below for details.
Capture emails from EVERYONE
Put them into an email management system like icontact.com
Set up an autoresponder to send regular informative emails to new prospects every 1-2 weeks.
Every 3rd email, provide some incentive for them to try your studio
Don’t be afraid of emailing too often. Once a week is better than once a month.
Once you’ve got it set up, it will take next to no time to manage and will send students your way.
I was wondering if you could give me some feedback in regards to my mission statement.
A place of community, peace, and practice.
A place to continually grow and expand, internally and externally.
“an ongoing growth”
I look forward to hearing from you!
Great to hear you’re creating a mission statement. There are two type of mission statements we commonly use in business – an internal one and an external one.
External mission statements are for your students and clients. Something like “Our mission is to provide you with a place of peace and renewal where you can connect with who you truly are.”
Internal missions are more like “We strive to help people find themselves, have fun and make money.”
A mission has to be simple, clear and emotionally motivating. Totally avoid trying to capture all the nuances of what you want to do in your mission. Better to simplistically motivate than to all-inclusively bore.
For example, Disney’s external mission is “To make people happy.”
Mary Kay’s is “To provide unlimited opportunity for women.”
Finally, remember that you can (and will) change it as time goes by.
I am in the middle of building my studio business and am knee deep in my business plan. I originally tried to launch a jewelry and apparel line but realized the margins and finances did not make sense unless I outsources everything to china or India. I am going to continue with this venture and sell the items in the store front of the studio, but it will not be my main focus for business. My background is in marketing, branding, and media sales and I have recently completed a 200 hour teacher training. While I love yoga and want to continue to practice, being a teacher is not my main goal for opening the studio.
I have purchased your online class MP3 package and am interested to learn how your class compliments the things I have not learned yet. My biggest concern is projecting the amount of revenue the studio can bring in and how fast it can do that. I will need investors or an investor to finance the adventure so I need to make sure my pro-forma is as close to real as possible. I have found an incredible space, but it is pricey and this is why projecting future earnings is crucial . My idea is solid, and I have narrowed it down a bit so I can tackle the first year and then add on as I continue year after year…however, I struggle with being overzealous and would like to approach this with guts and intellect. I have tried to be coached by my yoga teacher, but I am not sure our personalities are compatible for this venture. She is very knowledgeable in starting a studio but I am fairly sure I have more business experience than she does.
Your class seems to be a good fit and your knowledge is right on course with what have been doing and teaching myself. Do you offer personal business coaching? What is your background? I know your classes will help me, but having someone like you on my advisory board may also make investors feel more confident since I am new to the yoga industry.
I look forward to hearing your feedback and hope to continue learning from you in the future.
Congrats on entering a studio venture. I’ll give you the summary of what I’ve found over the years of working with numerous studios:
1. Don’t sell merchandise, except what your teachers actually use in classes (unless you can afford a full-time retail manager). And definitely not to start with. However, every studio should sell the things teachers use in class: mats, music, props, etc. And sell them at high retail prices – don’t try to compete with online stores. People buy from your studio because it makes them feel good and they like you – not because of price.
2. If there is an existing studio you can buy, it will usually be way cheaper than starting from scratch. Plus, it gives you a great baseline to make financial projections from.
3. Your top 2 sources of students will be word of mouth and the internet. Number 3 will possibly be drive-by/walk-by if you have a good location. If you took the money you saved on rent for a prime location and invested it in internet marketing and a referral program, could you get more business than by just having a good location? Usually the answer is Yes.
4. If you question compatibility with your potential partner now, don’t be partners. 9 out of 10 partnerships fail. Most very painfully. If you can hire a someone with a skill for $30 per hour or less, and will not need it for more than the first couple of years, hire someone – don’t partner with them.
5. Don’t expect to make a consistent profit for the first two years. If you don’t have the capital, then wait until you do. There are certainly exceptions, but I can’t recommend that unless you’ve successfully launched multiple studios in the past. If you’ve ever seen a new business close down withing a few months of openneing, most of the time it’s because they didn’t have enough money to start with.
6. A yoga studio is a business that happens to provide yoga as it’s service. If you like business, it might be right for you. If you want to focus on your own yoga practice, then running a studio might not be the best choice. A business must do two things to be successful:
a. It must be true to it’s mission or purpose
b. It must make money (or it can’t do #1 for very long)
I’ve recently talked about why students really come to your studio (if you missed it, see this link . Today we’re going to dig a bit deeper. People who practice yoga come with very specific goals and needs.
If we understand what those are, we can serve them better and multiply the chances they’ll come to your studio many time.
If you know what your potential students lay awake at night thinking about, and you can show them how yoga will help them with that, you’ll have a new student.
Today’s video goes into detail about how you can use this to bring more students into your studio. By the way, I apologize for the wind noise – one of the hazards of taking videos out in nature (by the way, thanks for the great feedback on the videos).
For example, if you know a 40-year old woman with a bad back who finds it painful to sit for more than a couple of hours at a time, I might be worried that I’ll lose my job that requires most of the day at a desk. Talk to anyone who’s afraid of losing their job these days, and that is a motivated person. If you can show her that yoga may help her to sit for 5 or 6 hours at at time, and reduce or eliminate her pain while she’s sitting, do you think she’ll come to your studio?
It’s totally win-win. She gets the help she needs and you make more money.
If you’re like many studio owners, you have a lot on your to-do list. In fact, you probably spend plenty of time being overwhelmed, and often focusing on whatever demands your attention in any given moment. But sometimes, we neglect spending time on what will really be of most value to our studio as a business.
In today’s video, I’m going to share a simple strategy with you to help you push aside all the stuff on your to-do list and focus on the things that will really bring you short-term results (probably in the form of money).
Thanks for watching.
By the way, please do share your thoughts and ideas about your topic for others to benefit from. Just post a comment below.
Oh, one more thing. I like picking different spots in nature to do these videos. Let me know if you like this idea or it’s just distracting.