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How To Deal with Yoga Studio Competition

coach_al2010-07-04 19:17:49 +0000 #1
How To Deal with Yoga Studio Competition

Recently, my wife and I celebrated our 9-year wedding anniversary. During the time we’ve been together, we’ve supported one another through numerous curve balls and blessings that life has shared with us. Everything from the birth of our first child to being “terminated” for reporting inappropriate behavior by a superior, from meeting incredibly inspiring people to being abandoned by seemingly close friends during a time of need. In each experience, I’ve found that I can ask “Why?” but I’ve discovered that a far better question is “What can I learn from this?”

From inspiring people, I learn more of what I wish to become. And, there are those who have become warnings to me for what NOT to be like. Both very important in life. So, what does this have to do with running a yoga studio? Most studios face competition of some type. Whether it’s a very similar studio down the street, or the YMCA that offers yoga for $3 per class, there is seemingly direct competition.

But what about the competition you don’t see? Did you ever think about a T’ai Chi studio being competition? How about a massage therapist? Or even a traditional gym? You’re probably saying something like “How in the world can a massage therapist be competition for a yoga studio that doesn’t offer anything even close to massage?” Here’s the deal.

Everyone has only 24 hours in a day, and many people have a limited amount of money to spend. Competition does not depend on how similar the service or product you offer looks from the outside, but rather, how it is perceived by a customer as a way to spend their time and money to reach a given goal.

Yoga is just one option for someone trying to reduce stress in their life. For example, they may also consider a weekly massage, taking T’ai Chi or any kind of meditative practice instead. For someone trying to get in shape, the competition may be a gym or some other athletic program. After all, they are likely going to choose one place to spend their money and time.

But don’t worry – this is both bad and good. Sure, there’s more competition than you may have realized, but it also means there are way more potential new students that you may have never targeted before. Most studios assume that people considering a yoga practice know what yoga can do for them. This is generally not true. We must educate new potential yogis about the benefits for them in their own life. For example, instead of promoting “10 days for $10” (or whatever intro special you like), we want to target specific needs that people have. Instead, try a 6-week intro workshop. Something like: “Yoga for Stress Relief”.

The idea is that when you target a need (i.e. “I want to be less stressed” or “I want to relieve my low back pain”) instead of trying to sell an activity (i.e. Yoga), you suddenly become an option for numerous people who would never have considered yoga before.

So, what about your more traditional competition, the studio down the street? By using the approach we’ve just discussed, you are no longer competing as much for the same people. You are casting your line in a different lake so to speak (at least some of the time). As far as the areas where you do directly compete, first, try to differentiate yourself from them. Lower prices are only one way to do this. People will pay a dollar or two extra if they feel like they truly “belong” at a studio.

More than anything, most people in western culture crave a sense of belonging and connectedness. Here are some techniques for doing this:

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Have front desk staff (or teachers) take a moment to greet new people and ask what brought them to your studio.

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Have teachers and staff remember student’s names (especially new ones) and use them.

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Have someone (staff, work-exchange students, teacher) talk to new students after class and ask them how it went, answer any questions and encourage them to decide when they will next come in.

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Have a comprehensive welcome packet (include a CD, imprinted water bottle, or other “valuable” gift with it).

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Ensure that from the moment a new student walks through the door that they never feel lost or embarrassed because they don’t know where to go or what to do next.

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Have teachers or staff introduce new students to at least two regulars (the kind of people who enjoy helping new folks).

These are just a few items that make up what I call “The Exceptional Experience” (You can get more details on how to implement this from session #4 of the “Home Study Studio Owner’s Success Program” See www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm: www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm for more info).

Would you pay an extra $2 to enjoy a meal at a restaurant that made you feel welcome, a place where “everybody knows your name”? Most people will. So remember, first promote the needs that you help with or problems that you solve for people (not the “product” you offer). Second, create the exceptional experience.

Incidentally, when you use these techniques, you’ll soon find that places like the YMCA no longer serve many of your potential students anymore – they are a different clientele. Your students are not just “customers,” but they feel like friends. They not only prefer your studio, but they will swear by it. AND they will tell everyone they know what an incredible place it is to belong. So this month, how can you make your studio an exceptional place?

Namasté,

Coach Al Lipper

About Coach Al:

Al Lipper is a master business coach, business teacher and writer. For free resources on running a yoga studio as a successful and fun business, visit www.CenteredBusiness.com: www.centeredbusiness.com/ .


louise molenkamp2010-07-04 19:31:49 +0000 #2
Hello coach all,

The things you say about how to welcome your students are very good things to do. I just want to add that it is most important that those things must come from your heart and not from the mind ( like the best things to do to beat the competition) And when real love for yoga is there and people are genuine the students will come and love you no matter what "the competition "does.

with great respect and love now the blessings of Yoga instruction are offered Yoga sutra's of Patanjali I : 1 ( as interpreted by Mukunda Stiles)

Namaste Louise

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