For three years, I owned and managed Breathe Yoga & Cycle Studio, which had two different locations. Initially, I got into the business because I was passionate about yoga. However, once I took the leap, I needed my studio to create a positive income stream for my family. To grow my yoga business, I utilized different deal sites, promotions and drop-ins as a way to attract new students.
However, I soon realized it was imperative that I understood how my students make the decision to practice at one location versus the next. I found that was the only way I would be able to grow my business in a highly competitive market that was prone to offering deals.
So what can you do to grow a strong, committed and loyal student base? Here is what worked for me.
Lesson 1: Create a strong community
Develop relationships with your students and encourage each of your teachers and staff to do so as well. The biggest part in creating retention is developing a community that people identify with. I believe a key aspect of my studio’s success was an amazing, warm community that my students felt connected to. I expected my teachers to create strong, caring relationships with their students, and I hired to that expectation. It was important when any student walked through the door that they were greeted with warmth and acceptance. When we taught our classes, we taught to the individuals who showed up, not to the people we envisioned teaching. We knew our students’ names. We asked them questions about their physical health, and we modified our teachings so anyone could show up and take a class.
What do your students identify with? What do they want to be a part of? Understanding these questions will be the glue that holds your community together.
Lesson 2: Understand what class schedule works
Understand what daily class schedule best serves your community. To create a schedule that brings in students and keeps them requires an in-depth understanding of the demographic you are serving, or want to serve. At my yoga studio, I wanted to be known for intelligently instructed classes that also had soul and spirit. That soul and spirit was the other component I insisted on when hiring, and it also reflected the types of classes I offered. Aside from that, a couple other key drivers of my scheduling included:
- Create consistent times from day to day, so students know you offer 6am, 9am and 12pm classes for example.
- Don’t fill your schedule just to make it look full. Fill your classes in the time slots that work.
- Offer the right level at the right time. Your 6pm time slot is typically a great time to offer advanced level teachings.
- Find the right teachers for your community. You will know a gem when you find one. Don’t be afraid to part ways with teachers if they just don’t fit with your culture.
- Have variety in the class types: (Vinyasa, Alignment-based, Restorative).
- Offer workshops and trainings that foster community participation outside of the regular class schedule.Be willing to evaluate, analyze and revisit your schedule. Run reports. Know what works and change what doesn’t.
Lesson 3: Be strategic about the deals you offer
I just met with a yoga studio owner this week. We talked about the challenge of retaining Groupon or promotion students. She was specifically frustrated about her inability to easily track the purchasing patterns of Groupon students. If you are going to offer a promotion or use a deal site, establish a repeatable process for analysis and follow through. That’s the only way you will be able to convert these prospective students into members. Here are some basic steps that can improve retention:
- When a brand new or promotional student attends class, invite them into your community. Show them around the studio. Make sure they know where to go. Don’t treat them differently because they paid a bargain that you offered.
- Have the teacher introduce himself or herself to any new student to the studio or their class. That way the connection carries through to the classroom.
- Send an immediate email to the prospective or new student thanking them for trying out your studio. Ask for their feedback. Or even better yet, call them if you hadn’t already met them on their first visit.
- Prior to the completion of their promotion, send out a call to action email that invites them to sign-up at your studio. Create a transition package call to action in the email that will entice the prospect to join for a longer period of time.
- Analyze the conversion rates of your promotion students so you can determine the true return on investment of the promotion.
- Figure out a promotional strategy that truly supports your growth goals and does not devalue the services that you are offering.
Hopefully these tips will help you grow your business and manage the pressure to offer Groupons and other discounts.
Student retention is key to growing your yoga business. For strategies on how to better retain your students, get your free copy of our guide, 5 Simple Ways to Improve Student Retention.