I remember the moment when the whole connection thing clicked for me. As part of my yoga teacher training, my instructor offered each of us a private session to focus where we wanted to in our practice. At the time, I was struggling a lot with migraine headaches and spending a whole lot of time focusing on the obviously tense areas of my body - my neck, my shoulders. My teacher (who is as brainy as she is intuitive and magical) had one look at me and said, “I’m not surprised your head hurts, look at your feet!” I was flabbergasted - I’d spent so many years in the western medical community - treating symptoms, not causes - that I’d never even considered that my head pain may be coming from anywhere other than my head or neck. Long story short, a whole lot of (really challenging) alignment work later, I kissed my headaches goodbye.
As yoga and wellness practitioners, we’re taught to look at the big picture - to treat the causes of dis-ease, not necessarily the symptoms. If a student comes to us and says their back hurts, we’re probably going to look everywhere: the feet, knees, hips. We’re going to consider their lifestyle, their working habits, their stress levels, their movement patterns. We’re going to approach the WHOLE individual. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have bought into the concept that you just can’t separate one body part from the other, and you really can’t separate the physical body from the mind. You have to address it all.
Yet, when it comes to business, I see so many yogis treating micro-symptoms, not causes. They’re focused on the proverbial head when the problem is foundational: it’s the feet! Let’s look at a few examples: A class is underperforming. It’s bringing in two, maybe three students - sometimes none at all. The studio owner knows it isn’t viable so they consider their options and decide to institute a no-show rate for their teachers. In other words, when there are no students in class, the teacher receives a reduced rate for showing up for that class. The studio owner assumes that the problem is solved and goes on their way.
The thing is, in this scenario, pay structure is NOT the problem. Neither is the class with poor attendance. These are both just symptoms of a systemic issue. As a business consultant, I couldn’t care less about the one sad class on your schedule. I’d be asking questions about revenue. Is it possible that the studio isn’t generating enough cash to cover its payroll? Does it need to reduce expenses or change its overall compensation strategy? Did the studio make its pricing decisions based on its actual needs? Is enough of the studio’s revenue recurring so that cashflow is consistent even when studio attendance isn’t quite there? I’d be asking questions about marketing and retention: Are enough new students arriving each month so that the studio is hitting its membership goals? Is the class schedule optimized for the studio’s ideal client? Does the studio even have an ideal client?! Are new memberships being sold each month to make up for any that might be canceled? And the most important questions I’d be asking would be about mindset: When a class isn’t working, what keeps you from making change? The answers probably come down to one of two things: fear or an underlying sense of inadequacy or overwhelm — not knowing where to start.
Let’s look at another common studio woe: customer acquisition. If I had a dollar for every time a studio owner told me that they just needed more students coming through the doors or “more butts on mats”, suffice it to say: I’d have a LOT of dollars. It seems obvious that a business needs a constant, steady stream of new customers and it does. But 9 times out of 10, when it comes down to brass tacks, most studios with a decent marketing strategy (and some without one) have plenty of new clients showing up and trying a class. The problem isn’t volume, it’s that they just don’t stick around.
Retention is nearly always the foundational issue that needs to be addressed when a studio isn’t hitting its goals. Instead of throwing money at advertising and dishing out free trials, I’d be thinking about the studio experience itself: are the classes on-brand? What’s the welcome experience like? Are there plenty of touchpoints built into the trial experience so that clients have all the information they need to take full advantage of your services? Are you reminding them to come to class, speaking to their needs, and solving a real and costly problem? How’s your sales process? Do you have a structured system in place that converts prospects to customers on a predictable basis, or are you still relying on good ol’ ‘hope marketing’ - hoping your clients love your classes so much they just decide to come back. This is all SO much more interesting to me than whether or not you’re selling a whole bunch of intro offers. Sounds painfully obvious but I’ll say it: selling 10 intros and gaining 6 memberships is a LOT more valuable than giving away 60 free trials in a month.
One of the things I’m most proud of is that I approach my work as a coach from the perspective of someone who actually has studio. Now. In 2021. I get it. There are so many circumstances that are out of our control that it feels good when we check ANY task off of the to-do list or take any sort of action. It’s easy to manage the little things, and totally overwhelming to think big-picture - especially when you’re in survival mode. That’s why it’s so valuable to ask for help from someone who can take an objective look at your business, help you better, barter or bag all of the nagging items on your to-do list, and help you free up some bandwidth so you can think big picture. Sometimes that means a total foundational overhaul, and often it’s a little scary to take a hard look at it all, but I promise. It’s so, so worth it.
Ready to stop thinking small? Let’s have a free 60 minute Studio Strategy Session and explore how I can help you thrive.