Running a yoga studio can be an extremely rewarding journey, but just like any business, you’re bound to experience some challenges along the way. Today yoga classes are more popular than ever before, with a recent study in America revealing that 64% want to practice more in 2019 than they did last year.
Whether you’re a yoga teacher ready to take the plunge and open a studio of your own, or already have a business, it’s essential to understand how to build and maintain your yoga studio income.
Don’t forget that when you have your own studio; you are running a business. It’s different from teaching, where you can book yourself up for the week, charge an hourly rate, and know what your-take home will be. There’s no staff to pay, no overheads; the money you earn is for paying rent, bills, and living your life. But when you have a business, the money you make goes straight back into it.
The yoga market is becoming more competitive each day and clients are getting used to bouncing from studio to studio. What can you do to ensure your clients stick? There is a range of product and service ideas you can implement as additional revenue streams to boost your income. But these should run alongside your underlying business plan. It’s time to craft a strategy that will help your studio stand out from competitors and increase retention.
In this article, we’ll highlight 7 key areas that you need to focus on to maintain and increase your yoga studio income.
1. Entice With Value
It’s always a great idea to have a special promotion for new customers. Offering free trials can seem like an obvious money-saving option for prospects. But there are better techniques for enticing new members who are more likely to stick with you, which is what you want for your business in the long-run.
This part of your acquisition strategy needs to focus on creating value for potential members; without devaluing your service. Value, of course, relates to money, but what does offering your services for free really achieve?
We spoke to yoga entrepreneurs and brothers Christopher and John Yax; founders of Hot House Yoga in the most recent episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast. Based on their 15 years in business, Christopher and John share some excellent guidance with ideas from their experience in valuing your services correctly.
“Free literally has zero value. And so it doesn’t compel people to stay. It doesn’t compel people to perceive what they’re getting and the value of it. They don’t increase that perceived value at all,” says John.
If a prospective member really wants to sign up for your yoga classes, they will be attracted by an incentivized offer. If they are only interested in getting something free, offering them a free session won’t really work. The reason is that they don’t get any real value and will hop from trial to trial. Give offers that still add value to the client, but also involve some sort of engagement from them. Instead of offering a free trial class, think about providing something that requires commitment:
Say you charge $20 per class.
Instead of a free session, offer the first two classes for $20. They still get a free class this way, so they feel like they’re getting value, but you’re getting them to commit to something as well. This means they’re more likely to come back to your studio again. For more inspiration on offering value, check out this article on why the free gym trial is dead.
2. Keep Pricing Simple
It’s no coincidence that the most successful studios have the most straightforward pricing models. Nobody wants to walk into a studio and see more price plans than types of classes on offer! Keep the packages you offer easy for clients to understand and track their usage.
Having multiple memberships or packages to cater to a small number of people leads to inefficiencies; this is not a good way to run a business.
You’d be surprised at how many studios have a pricing model with between six and ten different purchase options, and ultimately, this can be overwhelming for members.
This is a prime example of an off-putting pricing plan:
1 class $20
3 classes $55
5 classes $80
10 classes $150
20 classes $290
Unlimited auto-renew monthly: $110
If your pricing is displayed anything like this, you need to change it! While the structure might work, and you are offering exceptional value, it’s too much for a potential member to break down. They’re less likely to buy any classes from you. Keep it simple:
1 class $20
10 classes $150
Unlimited monthly: $110
In terms of your business, the most efficient option is to sell the recurring membership program. Your ‘unlimited monthly’ customers mean you have a steady income from your studio.
So while it’s good to keep options simple, your main objective should be to sell members up to this plan! Keep the payment processing side as quick and straightforward as possible. It will make your life easier, and your customer experience more convenient. A good yoga studio software will help you achieve peace of mind with this side of things.
3. Always Have an Upsell
Upselling should always be in your mind when it comes to growing your business. As mentioned in the previous point; it’s even applicable even when it comes to basic purchasing options! You should always be looking for the next step to create more value for your clients and bring additional revenue to your business. Never be afraid to cater to members who see the value in your offering and are willing to pay more for this value. The challenge for you, however, is developing an upsell progression that is simple and accessible.
Going back to the Hot House Yoga episode of our podcast, co-founder John notes that upselling comes as a natural part of running a yoga business:
“What we’re doing is resolving a problem for them, and what happens when you solve one problem is that you make new problems. So if I come in to practice yoga, oh, that’s good because I have back pain, and I want to heal my back pain. So I’ll come into yoga, and in my mind, my back pain is already gone even before I’ve even taken a class. But the second problem that comes up is, ‘Wait a second, I need a yoga mat, and I need some water, and I’m going to sweat a lot, and so I’m going to need some clothes. They are going to help me’.”
As soon as a member is signed up to one of your classes, you’ll likely find that there is a problem to solve and a solution to sell. A simple example of this is a yoga mat; you can sell mats directly, or rent them to members on top of their classes.
Again, you can structure this in a way that adds value; free mat rental could be included in the monthly membership option. On top of simple upsells, think about offering separate beneficial sessions such as private yoga classes. You could even run a weekend yoga retreat.
4. Make Your Customers Your Brand Ambassadors
If your members are enjoying your service, they will likely tell their friends and family. Offering a referral program is a great way to attract new members and improve retention. 92% of people trust referrals from people they know, and people who are referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate.
Potential members are four times as likely to buy when referred by a friend, so encouraging referrals to your studio is essential. If you’re just getting started with your referral program, start simple. Send an email offer out to a group of your existing members. You can make the content more personal by narrowing down your selection, like choosing people who’ve attended a class that day.
Great moves in today’s class! Save 10% on your next one…
Got a friend who’d love our Flow session? Bring them along next time, and you’ll both save 10%.
5. Hire Great Teachers and Promote Them
A business is only as good as its staff, and this is equally true for yoga studios. Someone may be a qualified yoga instructor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their style of teaching yoga will be aligned with your brand.
This is something you need to be sure of during the hiring process, and when you decide on the structure of your yoga brand’s values. Christopher tells us that they learned this the hard way at Hot House Yoga, when they hired a teacher who’s yoga style did not match what the brothers had in mind for their brand:
“In the beginning, what we didn’t do was we didn’t have a structure. We didn’t hold to it and the relationship with her ended up breaking down and we had to let her go. And what we found was that there is a good portion of our students who left with her. And so the mistake was not holding a structure of what we knew to be true”.
If you get your teacher hiring process right, you won’t need to worry about instructors taking clients with them when they leave!
You’re likely a great yoga teacher yourself, and hopefully, you have some equally skilled instructors teaching your classes. So promote them! Social media is an excellent platform for this type of marketing.
Use it as an opportunity to create mini-profiles on your staff to add a personal touch to your social content and build communities. Share snippets of them teaching to inspire more potential yogis to try a class. Have your teachers link through to your studio’s profile on their accounts, as well.
People buy from and are attracted to other people. “Bikram with Andy,” which includes a nice image and bio of ‘Andy,’ is much more attractive than “Bikram Yoga Class,” which contains a generic description of the class and studio.
6. Rent Your Space
Using your studio’s free space is an excellent way to generate a passive income. You could rent advertising space to companies for advertising – checking out your local area and contacting companies that are also aligned with health is worthwhile. For instance, take health food shops. Both your client bases are likely to have comparable health interests, so advertising in your studio could lead to more revenue for both of you.
It’s also worth noting there are often groups looking for a place to host events. You can rent your space to people to do this, or better yet – host your own activities outside of class times. Perhaps you could hold a community yoga event once a month to promote brand awareness in your local area.
7. Sell products in your studio
We’ve previously discussed why you need to sell products in your studio, and that’s because it’s a great way to add an extra stream of income. Extending the business model of your studio to include retail will maximize your earnings and also help reinforce your yogi community and engage members.
Retail items can include health and beauty products, nutrition, equipment, and fitness clothing. Take this a step further by creating your own branded clothing. The best part of this is that it will naturally promote brand awareness as well as bringing in extra money!
If you’re a teacher; you already know how life-changing practicing yoga can be. Running a successful business is a whole new journey of self-discovery, and to succeed, you need passion, a strategy, and perseverance. Make a clear and concise plan and prepare yourself for the economic and emotional investment that comes from starting growing a studio today.
Put the business ideas we’ve covered into practice, and you’ll be on the way to establishing and growing your yoga studio income.