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Becoming The “Best Yoga Studio in Town”

coach_al2010-07-04 23:04:52 +0000 #1
Becoming the “Best Studio In Town”

With summer in full swing, things change in our communities. Some people leave on vacation, 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 www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm: 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 www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm: 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.

Namasté,

Coach Al Lipper

P.S. Please let me know what other studio business topics would you like to learn more about in the future? Most of my articles come from reader and client questions. You may email me at: coach@CenteredBusiness.com

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/ .


InnerAthlete2010-07-04 23:19:00 +0000 #2
Quote:

There are two things every business must do in order to be successful:

1. You must provide products and services in line with the company’s vision or mission.

2. You must make money (or you will not be able to do #1 for very long)

...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:

1. Find out what people want

2. Get it (or create it)

3. Let them know you have it

4. Give it to them

If a yoga teacher is providing a service in line with their vision it is possible that finding out what people want would be a moot issue. It may be better, in that scenario, to find business location where the market already wants what it is you have to offer.

Altering what you have to offer, thus catering to the whims of the market, may work very well in a standard business model. It does not, however, allow much room to honor yoga - unless of course we're not talking about Yoga yoga.

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