Written by: Gordon Carpenter, Onboarding Coach at Zen Planner
Gordon Carpenter is a yoga teacher, former yoga business owner and Director of Education for trüFORMAT.
When making decisions around the beginning or future of your studio, relevant data is the key component to better planning for action and predicting outcome. Zen Planner’s third Annual Yoga Studio Benchmark Report is a great place to measure where you fit in the current landscape and uncover your path to growth and success.
The first step is to break each aspect of the business into its fundamental parts:
– Facility Size
– Teacher Training
These categories are fairly standard for any yoga business and attention to each is required for a healthy, profitable business. What may be a surprise as you read through this data is that the most successful studios tend to charge the most for their services. This is counter to the old logic that lower prices and higher volume drive profits. From the Average Monthly Financials section, we can see that a strong membership base, followed by diverse offerings such as retail and teacher training, fuels longevity. Also, optimizing your business to move from a large studio to a maximum capacity, sustainable operation is the most challenging stage of growth.
Community + Quality = Centered Studio
Since the first classes started springing up decades ago, yoga has been promoted as an inclusive practice open to all who want to be part of a larger community. Connection and community are at the heart of most conversations around yoga, yet there are relatively few studios that truly cultivate a sense of belonging and shared experience. This is an interesting development when compared to other modalities such as Affiliate Gym and Boot Camp programs. Both are less overt about inclusion, yet continue to increase membership retention and grow stable, active communities. They are walking the walk that yoga talks. The assumption that a yoga studio will create community by virtue of being a yoga studio is a critical misstep when diving into business. By considering what drives a prospect’s decision making, identifying your ideal student, maximizing the space they have to move, and diversifying your offerings, you maximize the potential success of your studio.
Too often, new owners disregard what brought them to the practice in the first place; that is, the experience of practicing under the guidance of a quality instructor with the support of others doing their best. When opening the doors to your yoga business, you assume responsibility for providing both quality instruction and a supportive community. Essentially, the cultural health of your studio is dictated by your demeanor and attention to detail. Dedicated, accountable students are attracted to dedicated and accountable owners and studios. The numbers reflect that those who provide superior instruction and a safe, welcoming space retain the majority of market share.
Why Students Choose Your Studio
As illustrated in the Factors for Choosing a Gym section of the bonus Annual Member Trends Benchmark Report, people are happy to pay for value. What do they value? High quality instruction tops the list. This is probably no surprise, but it is often overshadowed by a focus on décor and amenities. A staff of quality teachers relates directly to how most people find their gym or studio of choice, referrals! Word of mouth is the fundamental building block of a thriving studio and students find connection with teachers, not spaces. If you find superior teachers and give them a venue to thrive, your membership numbers will take care of themselves.
Even if a space is dedicated and decorated for a premium experience, it won’t match the vibe of a crew of dedicated friends pushing each other to do better in someone’s living room. The Preferred Fitness Activities section of the bonus Annual Member Trends Benchmark Report indicates that most people prefer independent exercise over anything. This shows that a cohesive group of knowledgeable, encouraging and like-minded people can take a simple space and transform it in to a place of refuge, personal development and connection. How do we bring them out of the living room and into the studio? Offer instruction that will develop people beyond what they can achieve independently. Offer a space that accommodates the work you’re asking them to do. Give them a service that they refuse to live without.
Yoga is More Than Exercise
The Reasons to Participate section of the bonus Annual Member Trends Benchmark Report reflects that yoga, in particular, is in a unique position to provide a solution to the top two reasons people join a studio or gym:
1. Staying Fit and Healthy
2. Relieving Stress
Yoga is the only practice that specifically and actively addresses physical fitness and mental wellness.
There is no specific formula for a successful studio. But, with the use of relevant data and a commitment to providing quality solutions for student wants and needs, success is only a matter of time.
Dive into the data on your own by downloading the Annual Yoga Studio Benchmark Report today!
Gordon Carpenter is Director of Education at trüFORMAT, an Onboarding Coach at Zen Planner and a yoga teacher. He was formerly Owner/Operator of Niravadhi Yoga in Charlotte, NC and has studied extensively with well-known Masters of the practice as well teachers who remain out of the spotlight yet continue to influence the community. Climbing, reading, composing music, skateboarding and baseball are just a few things he enjoys besides writing.