You need to get new students into your studio, otherwise it will die.
The second most important piece of advice I can give to yoga studio owners, is to offer Irresistible pricing for new students. For example, run promotions advertising new students to have their first ten classes for $10, one week unlimited yoga membership for $20, or your first month for $50.
Do whatever it takes to get new students in the door.
The biggest problem with this type of campaign is the size of the studio. This promotion works best when your studio can take unlimited numbers of students in a single class. This is why I always recommend studio owners to open a yoga studio with one big room that can accommodate 40+ students, rather than several small rooms. (more on studio design in an upcoming blog).
If you have a limited size yoga space, you can still find a way to make this type of promotional campaign work. Add extra classes to the schedule for new students. Break down some wall!
Having too many yoga students is a problem you want to have!!
IMPORTANT: CONVERTING NEW STUDENT INTO FULL MEMBERS
The biggest challenge is how to convert introductory students into full members. Many studios offer promotions such as, buy your next membership before your introductory membership ends, and get an extra discount on your new membership.
New students need to feel loved.
It is important that new students feel loved, by everyone from the front desk to the teachers.
Some years ago when Grupon and similar discount websites first started offering heavily reduced prices, from meals in restaurants to yoga memberships, suddenly in one week we were selling hundreds of intro memberships.
The biggest complaint from these customers was they they didn’t feel wanted.
Our response to this criticism was to add extra beginner classes to the schedule, and try to communicate more efficiently with students in advance of them arriving for their first class. This relieved the pressure on the front desk. We emailed them to come to the first class early, which clothes to wear. What to expect.
The same holds true for all new members. They need to feel that they are wanted.
They should be given a tour of the studio.
Through Mind Body Online (MBO) you can create automatic emails, that send new students an email the first day they visit the studio, a week later, and a few days before their membership ends.
With MBO you can also set an alarm, that will show if new members only visited the studio once or twice. MBO will flag these students and create a list. Someone from the studio can then give them a call, and advise them which classes they might enjoy.
A small studio cannot offer a three month membership at the same price as a big studio that offers 20 classes in multiple locations, and expect students to choose your studio. Especially if your studio is new, and you don’t have a loyal following.
Small studios try to compete with big studios in terms of membership pricing. You don’t need to!
You are small, you are nimble, especially in the beginning of your studio.
If you own the studio, and you are the main teacher, and you are teaching lots of classes like I did, you can offer crazy promotions to get students to visit your studio.
The big studios can never compete with this. You can cut other studios’ membership prices by 50%. Why not? When you have more students you can increase the price again.
When studios are struggling, often the first thing they do is increase the prices. This is a huge mistake. You need to increase the number of students, not try and milk more from your existing students.
Sometimes I hear teachers and studio owners say to me “if I don’t charge enough the students won’t respect me”. But they will respect you if you are teaching good classes.
When I managed the studio I had a policy that nobody would ever be refused a membership, even if they had no money. Many students will attest to that. I gave free memberships, and I never asked for anything in return. I knew that later those students would come back, would bring friends, would speak well of the studio, and in the future might sign up for a teacher training program.
If you have a small studio, of course you can offer a brilliant service. But the best way you can compete is with price. Be creative.
Find a system that fits the size of your studio. If you have a small studio, add some extra classes for new students only, or run crazy promotions to get students to sign up for off peak classes when the studio would normally be empty.
Offer free introductory memberships to students, fill the studio with people. Make the studio feel that it is full of life.
BIKRAM YOGA’s IRRESISTABLE PRICING
The entire Bikram Yoga empire was built on a good product and irresistible pricing. You can go to almost any Bikram studio in the world and you will be able to sign up for the first 10 days of yoga for ten or twenty dollars.
HOW SMALL YOGA STUDIOS IN ENCINITAS ADVERTISED THEIR PROMOTIONS
During a visit to Encinitas in San Diego, the city with the highest number of yoga studios per head of population anywhere in the world, I observed how the small studios marketed themselves.
In all the cafes you could find yoga studio business cards. On one side was the studio’s name and a map, on the back was their introductory promotion. Most studios offered a free class if you brought the business card to the studio.
It really worked. For a long time I kept a bunch of studio cards in my wallet.