Josh Biro is the founder of The Yogapreneur Collective, an ethical business coaching program for purpose driven yoga studios.
In this episode Josh talks about focusing on the core vision of your studio, why value is the key to your pricing and the simple secret to making your sales pitch successful.
Connect with Josh here.
Find The Yogaprenuer Collective here.
This episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere you get your podcasts.
Kevin: How is it going, everyone? Welcome to the Fitness Founders Podcast. I’m Kevin Mannion, VP Marketing here at Glofox. Josh Biro is the founder of Yogapreneur Collective, an ethical business coaching program for purpose-driven yoga studios. In this episode, Josh talks about focusing on the core vision of your studio, why value is the key to your pricing and the simple secret to making your sales pitch better. Let’s have a listen.
Josh Biro, welcome to the show.
Josh: Hey, thanks for having me, Kevin. Excited to be here.
Kevin: Yeah, really looking forward to talking to you today about building profitable yoga businesses. It’s definitely a topic I’m really interested in and we haven’t covered it here on the podcast, so I’m really looking forward to talking today.
Josh: Cool. Yeah, I think we got a lot of fun stuff we can cover.
Kevin: Sounds good. Let’s start with a little bit about you. Tell me about yourself and tell me about your own business.
Josh: Well, I’m Aries and I like Moonlight Walks. No, I’m just joking.
Kevin: Keep going.
Josh: You’re like, I like where this is going. You know, even though I grew up in a yoga family myself, I hated yoga. I was the yogi who hated yoga because it was awkward and weird and my dad was super into it, but often, I was one of the only males in the class. Years later, my wife dragged me back into a class, and I just went through a very profound experience over a very short period of time and how powerful a yoga practice can be for you physically, mentally, emotionally. That time of my life, it really flipped things around for me. The result was I was extremely passionate about it and wanted to help other people have a similar experience, so I became a yoga teacher. My wife and I started managing yoga studios, helping friends build studios, culminating in our own large studio which we eventually sold, and started traveling full-time. We’ve been on the road as nomads now for about 7 years, and during that time, we’ve been lucky enough obviously not so much recently to be able to work with studios all over the world online but actually physically travel to studios all over North America. We started traveling in an RV with our 3 kids. I think we stopped counting studios like at 125 or something.
We got this very unique perspective of being able to participate in the industry as a practitioner, a teacher, a manager, a builder, and owner, someone who sold a studio. And then now on the grounds with studio owners and talking to them about the challenges that they’re facing and seeing what’s working and what’s not. I’ve been really kind of obsessed trying to figure that equation up. The result is for the last 5 years within full-time business coaching for yoga studio owners and now yoga businesses beyond just the physical studio owners. Because, you know what, business leadership is the most important leadership of our time. And the yoga studio is the perfect example of how when you have a sound business, the impact you have on your local community is amazing because you have a really great product. If you don’t have a sound business, you can’t make that impact. You’re hindered in doing so. I think that the separation between business and yoga, that’s something I personally fight against and want to disprove. They’re not separate. It’s the same thing.
Kevin: Got it. Now, before we dig into the business of yoga when you said first you were a nomad, I just imagined you going around with a backpack on your back. But, tell us a little bit more about that life as you’ve got the full family on board.
Josh: Yeah. You know what, one of the questions we get is how do you make that decision and it’s you just do it. There is no preparatory thing you can do. We basically sold everything we own, we sold our house, our cars and our business, and moved into an overland RV, so like a 4×4 RV. Started driving around. That was it. The plan was to sort of see where we landed. But living that way I was really thankful to be able to lean into having a yoga practice already developed because it helps keep your sanity when you are in a 120 sq. ft. with 3 kids on the floor younger than 10 years old as well.
Kevin: How does education work with the kids? How does life work?
Josh: There’s nothing really different in how you live except that there’s like these amplified elements. For example, for me, because I work online with people all over the world now. Finding the internet is of absolute prime importance. And then #2, from the family side, education is a huge element as well. We did home school for the first few years. But now we are in Mexico most of the time during the school year and our kids go to an international school.
Kevin: Okay. You found a home base for some of the year.
Josh: Yeah, so to speak. I would say that.
Kevin: Cool. Okay. Moving into the topic for today, I’m really looking for the formula for making a successful yoga business. I think from my perspective, yoga probably seems the hardest type of business to build. A lot of competition, a lot of price competition, driving down the money you can make. Like we know ourselves that yoga is one of the businesses that have really adapted to online and there’s pros and cons with that as well because essentially it’s an even more competitive market. Yeah. Where do you want to start in terms of talking us through to create a successful yoga business?
Josh: Well, I think for most yogis out there, but this would be true for any wellness entrepreneur or boutique fitness owner too, you have to realize where you come from. That’s the first place. Because there’s a lot of ‘Why’ factor and bigger vision that’s involved in a successful business. It’s realizing that I have yet to meet a yoga studio owner that says, “You know what, the reason I got into the yoga business is that I love business.” That’s not what we are doing. So, as a sort of passion-preneur, keeping that perspective over time becomes difficult. Because the biggest difficulty that I’ve experienced working with owners everywhere is that they enter the game extremely enthusiastic but they end up exhausting that enthusiasm and it wanes over time. Sometimes very quickly. In my opinion, part of that is the result of missing some vision.
I can relate to myself. One of the first studios we have to build and even our studio, I remember thinking like the vision was we’re going to find the finance, build a physical space, open up and teach every class and people do yoga classes and life will be great. Like that was the actual end of the vision but the truth is that was the starting line. And after a couple of years, you realize, “Holy cow! Like we’ve got to get smart about this or it’s not going to be fun, and we’re not going to really make the impact that we’re trying to make.” The vision had to then expand beyond that.
It starts with a vision, which I think would be the biggest thing. I know that that’s not a sexy subject right now because it’s hard to envision where we’re going in our business at this particular moment in time. But it’s also a good time to re-envision your business because as an industry we have just gone through some obvious major changes, so we have to reevaluate what we’re doing.
Kevin: What would be an example to make things… What would be an example of a vision that is something more than, “Hey, we’re going to get a place and we’re going to fill the classes.”? Everyone’s vision is going to be different but what’s an example of one that’s good enough to get you successful?
Josh: I think that there are 2 ways that we could use the word vision in this context. The first is like the bigger ‘Why’ factor to what you’re doing and why you’re even teaching yoga or why you’ve even opened a yoga business at all. That one just becomes your core fire, your bigger motivation. I honestly believe that teaching a really quality yoga class to people over time has the potential to save somebody’s life because I’ve gone through experiences that I think that’s exactly what’s happened to me. To me, that then filters and dictates how I will behave in my business because if I really believe that, I now have a moral obligation to serve it to people to the best of my ability. And that supersedes all other decisions, which makes your general feeling in how you kind of sleep at night about your business cleaner.
The other element of vision that’s more tangible for this conversation is actually setting a target that you’re moving towards. In 5 years from now, what does your business look like? If everything goes according to the plan, what are you actually creating? And being really specific about that. I’m going to personally bring in x number of dollars, my business is going to gross this, I’m going to have so many employees, this is how many classes I’m going to teach, this is how happy my students are, we’re going to have this rating on Google. Really getting that target defined and making it very big as well. Because the other thing that’s very common, and this is for any entrepreneur out there will relate to this, is once you start going on the path of your business, there’s a lot of distraction. If we start by looking at my vision of what we’re creating, you can start reverse-engineering the path to get there and that becomes your guiding principle. Because then you can say, does this thing that has just come into my mind or that someone’s offering me or this opportunity that’s presenting itself. It might be great but is it going to get me to this target? Yes or no? And if it’s not directly in front of you on that path then you can say no to it which is one of the most powerful things you can do in business actually. I say yes to things and will say no to a lot of stuff. Without that vision, it’s very easy for you to tangent, and start working on too many things at the same time and not really actually getting things fully launched and completely.
Kevin: How long does it take for your average clients or person that you talk to I guess make that shift in how they’re thinking about the business? And what are some of the common barriers that may trip off that journey along the way?
Josh: Well, the first major barrier for sure in the yoga world is disconnecting yoga from business. We think that these are 2 separate things. The truth is, everything that you’ve learned in your yoga has prepared you to be a good business owner as well. You just have to view them as the same thing. As an extension of that more specifically what might resonate with some of the listeners is the idea of sales and money. It’s interesting that there’s this weird dynamic where the yoga teacher wants to get paid well for teaching yoga but is fearful of being in a sales position or asking for a fair price for what they are offering. And that’s a common sort of battle that I experienced in conversations. Those are some of the paradigms that we have to shift right away. That really if you look at it and we relate it to a yoga practice, money, and sales, that’s the breath of your business. You have to have a yoga posture and be breathing for you to be producing the postures’ maximum benefits. You have to be producing money and sales in your business for it to be breathing properly. It’s the same thing.
Kevin: I can see that’s a barrier. How much of it is maybe that mentality versus I guess people skills at sales and marketing.
Josh: All of the above. And that’s actually a really good point, Kevin, because one of the things I feel like especially the yoga world, but I’ve experienced this in the gym, or barre, or pilates, or whatever else to, you’ll spend thousands of dollars to go to a yoga teacher training and weeks of time and a year of mentorship. How many minutes or hours of that were spent on how to do a simple thing like check someone in at the front desk, give them good customer service, sell them an intro pass. Like little to none. Very, very small amount. Yet the same group of people who have spent that time, money, and effort towards that don’t feel comfortable in a sales situation and are unwilling to spend $500 on the sales force.
Now, obviously, I’m stereotyping here. Not everyone fits that mold. But it’s the realization that you as a yoga professional have to expand your view beyond just your yoga class. And here’s the reason why. If we look at what a consumer is doing right now, especially right now, now more than ever. If I get my butt off my couch and I find my mat under my dog, and I drive across town and I find a parking spot, and I arrive in your physical studio on time for a class that you scheduled, that an insanely large action. Same thing, if I go online, find you, purchase, figure out my login situation through your system, get my 3 kids all situated and happy, make sure my wife’s okay, find a quiet spot, find my plugin that my son steals all the time from my computer, and push play on a Zoom for me to do a live class with you. That’s an insanely huge action. Because if I just want to do some stretching postures, I’ll just grab YouTube and do it for free right now. I don’t need to do any of that effort.
We have to realize that what a consumer is saying in their actions, not in their words, is that I’m looking for something more. What I want is a yoga experience, not just some stretching postures. And that yoga experience has to be bigger than just the moment and the end of the class begins. Because it’s so much more than that. How was my checkout flow to get into your online class? How was I greeted and treated and invited into the community as part of that? What was the follow-up after class? That stuff really matters.
Kevin: Yeah, no, I agree 100%. Maybe fill out that picture for me. What is that end-to-end experience in the broadest terms?
Josh: When we’re looking at the structure of a yoga business, I would say that the spirit of the business is the community, the students, and actual classes themselves. That all is experiential. So, the broader how do we actually curate this experience, let’s waddle it down to one moment in time, I’m a brand-new student coming to your studio to take an online class. Everything that I do to interact with you is something that you have control over to some extent, so what is your website look like and what is the messaging. How easy is it for me to go through a checkout flow to make a purchase or to get into a class? How easy is it for me to actually create the environment and to sign on and to get into that class? Once I go through the effort to make that happen, am I actually acknowledged that a human taking this effort and paying you my hard-earned money to take your yoga class? Am I invited back afterwards? Do I feel like I’m part of something bigger? And then also, especially up front as a new student, the number one thing that I purchase is transformation. I want to get from point A to point B. Are you offering a real transformation to me? Is your product actually good? But are you also highlighting the fact that this transformation is taking place and positively supporting my efforts.
Kevin: Yeah, that make a ton of sense. I guess what are some tangible examples of maybe transformations that people, what are the different types of transformations that I could potentially offer?
Josh: I mean, if we’re talking about your average yoga class, the truth is, you’re going to be the best yoga teacher on the planet. I’m not going to get all the value from you that I can in one single class. The reason I’m going to come to you in terms of what I say is I want to gain flexibility, lose weight, feel good, distress, whatever. But, I’m not going to accomplish solving that problem in a single class. You gotta start to break it down into little smaller pieces that show that you’re on the path for that to take place. So, let’s say I’m coming in because I primarily want to distress because we’re living in a stressful moment in time. How I can offer that transformation is part of the formula of even the class that I offer always ends with some sort of meditative moment where lets people really get into a lower, calmer vibration level after they’ve done sort of the hard work of the class. And then you point that out.
The second thing is then the follow-up afterwards is part of that transformation. If I’ve taken a class from you and I feel really, really good, I have a lot of distractions in my life. I don’t really want you to spam me but within a very short period of time, you should try to have another interaction point. It should be as customized to me as possible. So, if the actual teacher that I took a class from sends me a quick note like a text message and it’s just a one fuzzy and it’s nothing to do with sales and it’s just saying, “Hey, how are you feeling today?” which is putting me in a headspace to think about, “Hey, you know what, I’m actually good after this class”, or “I’m a little tender because I stretched really deep”, or whatever. Now that communication is bringing that to mind for me so I’m connecting to the brand, to the teacher, to the class, to the results. That’s all part of the transformation.
Kevin: Yeah, and I guess I suppose as a par example of being fit in this maybe people are clearer on the transformation. Maybe the consumer is triggered in January whenever they want to lose some weight. But maybe with yoga, you’ve got this thing where you need to educate the customer a little bit more on the journey that they are going to go on and the reason for it rather than just the benefits of a single class.
Josh: Yeah, I would agree to that. That’s true. In the yoga world, there are a few different ways that yoga business owners will communicate the value of the product. Some of them it lean much more towards the fitness side of things and others that lean much more towards maybe the spirituality involved and the energetics involved in it. I think what’s unique in the yoga world is that it’s positioned as something that can bridge the gap between these two places. It’s not church and full on spirituality in its core essence. It’s not full-on fitness but it does both of those things in some weird way. That’s what’s unique about it. So, the most powerful studios that we’re seeing a lot of success with, they’re able to embody both of those things and sort of explain it. And to your point, Kevin too, actually educate people on to this as well. Because the more I understand something, the easier it is for me to become enthusiastic about it. Clarity counts for a lot. And so a simple way to do that is just to educate them on what’s actually taking place.
Kevin: I guess maybe the step before that is to determine yourself what that journey is that you’re bringing people on. Educate yourself and maybe create your own version of it and then sit about making sure people go on that journey.
Josh: Completely. I mean messaging is kind of where we’re really talking about what we’re talking about. I feel like we’re at a moment in time where messaging is more powerful than it’s ever been because there’s so much noise out there. Not only do you have to have a high-frequency message to really get it in front of people. It has to be a cutting message. It’s got to be a good hook. It’s got really good quality in it. So, if you’re trying to sell your yoga classes on destress, feel great, live your best life. That’s boring. It’s really difficult for me as a consumer to cut through that because I saw that same message across 6 other products 14x today just walking past your studio. It’s really figuring out what your special sauce is. What’s the niche thing that you got to be known for? What’s the niche thing that you’re going to be known for the most? Even to the point that, and this is where it becomes controversial for studio owners because the most common marketing phrase in yoga is “Yoga for everybody.” I have the controversial opinion that that is the worst possible thing you could say. I’m not saying you don’t accept anyone who comes in. But yoga for everybody means it’s also yoga for nobody. I’m not coming to you because I want yoga for everybody. I’m coming to you because I want my back to feel better, for example. So if you say yoga that makes your back feel better, that’s a terrible example, but for the simplicity of it, and I’m looking to fix my back, I’m immediately attached to it. If I’m coming because I want to learn how to do a handstand and you say yoga to make your back feel better, I’m not interested in it. That’s okay though. It just helps people really have clarity in what they’re going to get with you and how you can solve a problem so that you then become the only option. If your competitor says yoga for everybody and you say yoga for backs, and I want yoga to fix my back, which one I’m going to.
Kevin: Now, I know the answer to this is in getting your messaging right. But, I guess, let’s talk about pricing for a minute because I think this is probably the biggest enemy of a lot of businesses is getting dragged out on price. I know if you really nailed your messaging and your niche you can charge what you want. But somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is everybody’s reality of figuring how they get a better price in a competitive market. What do you think about that?
Josh: Pricing is a really big conversation. One that I find myself in a lot right now, studio owners, everywhere. It doesn’t matter what market we’re talking about. When we look at what’s like the body of the business basically. The body of the business is the team and the organizational structure, and your pricing fits under your organizational structure because it’s how you’re actually communicating to people and funneling them towards an action. So, the first major thing I would say with your pricing is really easy for you to look at the rational detailed element of this price versus this. And I’m going to have these 50 options so that I’m appeasing all of these people. But realize that nobody makes any buying decisions whether they think so or not rationally first. Every buying decision is an emotional decision first, and then we use rationale to back it up. Secondarily, your pricing is a direct communication to your students on what you think they should do to succeed. And success is transformation, getting what they actually want. I want to gain flexibility. So if your pricing strategy is too complicated or has too many options, or it doesn’t make sense, two prices internally are actually competing with each other, you’re not giving me a clear path of action. What we’re seeing right now with pricing is ultra-simplified, crystal clear pricing tends to perform like not just a little bit better, like 5,000 percent better. It’s just so much simpler.
In terms of the specific price, we’re concerned about the dollar amount being too high, too low, whatever else. But it’s never been a dollar amount. I don’t think it matters who you are, where you’re from if you really think for yourself on how you’ve made purchasing decisions. You will purchase something at any price if you perceive the value of that thing to be at least as much or more than what their charges. It’s really about perceived value, not about specific price. That comes back to the… It’s really the communication that ties into it as well. If you price anything, the only way to price versus competitors is as the highest or the lowest. If you’re the lowest price you are the cheapest, but no one cares about the second lowest. If you’re the highest price you are the premium, but no one really cares about the second highest as it seems expensive. Unless that’s your strategy is to be the highest price whatever or the lowest price whatever, it’s just a stupid game to be in. Don’t even look at the price in the industry. Look at what’s the value I’m offering and then you’re going to sell that value so that the price just needs to make rational sense at that point. Basically, it’s either within the means of the person purchasing or not.
Kevin: Okay. I’ve got a couple of things from you there. I think you’re saying, number one, stop looking at your competitors for a moment, determine the value and how you want to price that. And the other big one is having a simple pricing model. And if we dig into the simple pricing model, again, is it like a membership, is it per class, is it a class pack? You know, there are a myriad of options there and what are you seeing that aligns best to what you’ve already said.
Josh: Yeah, I mean, most studios find that they’ll benefit from having one pricing option per primary avatar in their business. If I’m going to be a practitioner that’s 2, 3, 4, 5 days a week at your studio and I’m really trying to make a change in my life and that’s going to become a part of my habitual being – it’s the membership. We need to have a membership option. If I am someone who wants to practice regularly but I’m super busy and I maybe have another membership somewhere else and I’m going to do it once a week on average, I need a maintenance level pass. It might be a recurring class pack or a limited per month pass. And then there’s the doublers who are people who aren’t just going to buy a casual single class drop-in. They want to have a little more commitment to a practice than that but they need ultra-flexibility and that’s just like a straight-up 10 class pass or something like that a class pack. Most studios tend to be where we calibrate.
But I do have to say a couple of things on this is that, one, we look into why small businesses fail in western culture. Especially 2019, despite being the largest year on record for the yoga industry, we still had more yoga studios closing than brand new ones opening. The number one reason small businesses fail, especially yoga studios, is lack of cash flow. When the pandemic hit and the lockdowns came that’s what we saw was immediate, it was about an 8% just complete shutdown of studios who are closed forever at that specific moment in time. It wasn’t necessarily profitable. It was a lack of cash. We couldn’t float it for a second. You didn’t have anything to re-invest in the business to pivot it. If that’s true it means one of the primary things in your pricing strategy on the business side needs to be to continually produce cash flow. If I’m selling you a 10-class pass and that’s the primary offering I have, every time I sell it to you I have to wait for you to use it before I can sell you something again, and I have to convince you to buy something again every single time. Statistically, you’re going to just lose people on that equation. Your retention over the long run, over a course of a year or two, is going to be lower versus someone who is on a monthly autopay because that payment comes every month. Even if it’s a way lower price upfront in month one and two in terms of what ends up in my bank account from that monthly autopay, what we find is studios that optimize for that equation at the end of a year are way the heck ahead.
And, equally, the other piece of the puzzle here is this goes back to what is that vision element of what are you in this for. I want you as my student to succeed. And if I’m the professional in this equation because I’ve spent decades honing my craft, you would come to me and say, “Josh, I want to improve my life through yoga practice.” What I’m going to tell you to do. Well, the very first thing for you to succeed is consistency and frequency. So if I sell you 10 classes where you pay the same price per class with a limited amount of time to use them, I’m communicating to you, you should do 10 classes. And there is no incentive for you to increase your frequency per week because you pay the same per class. Whereas, if I sell you a monthly membership, you have every possible incentive to keep coming month after month and to do as many classes as possible because it gives you the best price. Now, I’m actually communicating something more in line with my personal philosophy on how I can help you as the authority in this situation.
Kevin: It’s definitely a different way of thinking about things. Option one is what will people buy and how you get them to buy as much as possible so that there’s somebody coming to the classes versus how can I structure this so that I’m building a sustainable business for myself? And how can I put that thought first when I’m coming up with my pricing?
Josh: Yeah, totally. But also these things aren’t so far apart. If you have people, hypothetically a student comes in, do you intro pass for one month which is normal in a yoga studio. And then you have a conversation with them and they are a little hemming and hawing but you sort of convince them to try the membership, they do it. They come in again next month. They have a couple of breakthrough classes. They increased their frequency. Now they just went from one month to five months of practice. Not only that. They now become a brand evangelist. Retention is where you make your money in a yoga studio. But if you have a retention issue, where we first look is not at your retention strategy. It is what your loyalty strategy is. You have a loyalty problem. That person we just described, if they practice for six months, and they suddenly feel better and they lose a little weight and they feel good in their body, in their mind, and whatever else, they are going to promote the heck out of you. That’s how you fill your classes. You amplify that by hundreds of people in the membership and all of a sudden your business does extremely well, but your students do extremely well and that impact that you set out to give to the world in the first place also happens.
Kevin: Well, just two things I’m interested in. We’ll start with the first which is that conversation after 30 days because my guess is that a lot of people find it challenging to be able to have that conversation – the sales conversation. Tell me a little bit around getting good at that.
Josh: I think the first thing is confidence. If you want to be a good salesperson, and we don’t even like to define ourselves that way, but that is what it is. You’re trying to sell this person to commit a yoga practice basically. If you want to be a good salesperson the very first thing is you’ve got to be really confident in your product. If you think about any fitness/wellness business, it doesn’t matter what we are talking about – massage therapist, HIT gym, barre studio, pilates performer, yoga class, whatever – the one special thing we have versus some trinket is we can be pretty confident in our product like it works. If you’re going to have that conversation with me, if you’re waffling and you’re clearly uncomfortable it doesn’t mean that lack of confidence tells me that I should also not be confident in the purchase. That’s the very first thing is like you’ve got to just have the goal to have the conversation and just be able to sort of stand your ground in a positive confident way and just talk about it bluntly.
Some of the easiest sales techniques that we teach is just straight up telling someone, “Hey, Kevin, it’s the end of your 30 days. It’s time for us to get you on to the membership.” That’s it. That’s the whole delivery. I mean, there are other deliveries that we teach as well. But it doesn’t always need to be so technical and such a long drawn out whatever and taken to some other room or whatever else. Just make it simple. Direct and honest.
Kevin: Okay. Well, I think that’s definitely a good start. Talk to me a little bit more about loyalty. What do you need to put in in terms of your own effort to create that loyalty?
Josh: I think it’s a sort of preface of what I’m about to say. There are three things that people purchase – transformation, community, and status. Over time you want to make sure that you’re checking all of those three boxes. Because when they come to you first for transformation, I want to improve something, solve a problem, whatever. Community, even the most introverted of us, want to be part of something. I need to be invited into the community. Status comes it sounds egotistical but it is actually a safety mechanism we have wired into us. Status comes when I feel like I have some sort of a rank within the community.
Essentially over a longer period of time the question becomes, when someone comes to your business, ends up on your membership, how do we create real community with them? How do we give them some rank? How do we positively support them so that we are now part of their habitual life? Because the other is a little bit tangent but ties into this. The other thing to bring into the equation is there are four ways that you can get stuff done. This is both for you as a business owner but it’s also a realization that you need to have for your students as well. You can get stuff done based off of willpower but that requires a tremendous amount of mental energy. You can get stuff done based on motivation, a little bit less mental energy, but still a lot. You can get stuff done off of a routine, and because it’s routine it’s like a little bit easier. And then the best way to get stuff done is through habit. As much as we live in a time where motivation, culture, personal willpower culture, and just hustle, and go out there and get them is at an all-time high. The truth is over time the way to actually accomplish something is to build habits. As the owner of a wellness business, part of your unwritten job is to help your students have a path to create a habit in their own life. Your community is the support mechanism for them so that they feel connected so that they do that.
Kevin: Talk to me about that journey from routine to habit. How are you going to do that for your members?
Josh: Yeah, I mean, the first thing with your members if we look at right to the very first month of time when someone comes in is you got to engage them. Realize that right now if I, again, going back to the storyline of if I put this effort into showing up and participating with you, that was the hard part. Instead of us looking at it in the industry as, oh, I need to figure out a better retention strategy for the students I have coming in the doors, how do I convince them to stay, and how do I convince them to buy something. Flip that around completely. It’s a guarantee that they are staying and they are going to be part of our community. In fact, if they leave it’s because we fucked it up and dropped the ball somewhere. Flip it around the other way and start acting like they are part of the whole equation.
When someone is new then it becomes a little simpler. Someone is new, they are in their first month, what do they need to know? How do we help them succeed? If you have a unique breathing technique that they clearly don’t understand, send them a video on that. If they feel the class is too fast or something else, talk to them how to do the pacing. If you want to invite them into the community, the way that we feel part of a community is because there is interaction and engagement between myself and multiple other people. That’s how a community is formed. You are sending me emails, that’s a one-way communication. You want two-way communication. I need to actually respond in some way. I need to become friends with someone else in the yoga studio, or one of the teachers, or whatever else as well. Not like friends go have a beer necessarily but it’s bigger than that. What are we doing, how are we curating an environment or a situation that allows for that to happen. A really simple thing like do you have a private Facebook group that you can post recipes into. Because you sell food? No. But because your community would be interested in a post-workout smoothie. And then there can be interaction and I can share something and so can you and we can talk about it or whatever else. Flipping it around a little bit as you’ve already got them, how do you just support them in that success?
Kevin: Give me a couple of tips on creating the rank and the status because that sounds cool. Thoughts of like a cheat for just making that work.
Josh: Yeah, for sure. I mean, that one thing I would say is what’s unique about us as humans is that we have organized ourselves into societies. Although there are people who will be on the runs of the pack side of society and people on the alpha side of society. We don’t have to be. Like there is enough room so we have to just preface it like there is enough room for everyone to be in a good positive position. The very first practical thing to do to help someone have rank is celebrate their success. Now, it’s almost like getting to the point where it is cliché, “Hey, you’ve done a 100 classes with us. Way to go!” But it’s because that no longer has weight because everyone has done it. If someone has done classes with you in a 6 month timeframe, send them a gift that actually matters. Here’s a bad gift idea, “Thanks, Kevin for doing 100 classes. Here’s a 20% discount off of something in our boutique.” I’m basically saying, “Thank you for spending your money and time with us. Here’s an excuse for you to spend more money with us.”
Kevin: Give more money.
Josh: Right. So instead, in my mind, I’ve got some sort of relationship with you. You’ve done 100 classes. What do I know about you? Oh, I noticed that you drive a motorcycle. Maybe I find on Etsy some funky little thing that’s got to do the yoga posture on a motorcycle. Because you care about that? No. But it says something about me and how much I appreciate you. Now, maybe you can’t do that for every person that hits the 100 class mark but it’s getting a little more inventive about how we’re actually celebrating success and showing to people it actually matters.
Kevin: I think that’s really good. I think that the whole lifecycle of transformation through community to status is we’ll remember that. I think it’s applicable to more than yoga. Yeah, that’s a really good one. Before I let you go, there’s probably a couple of tactical things that I’m sure people are curious about. I’d love to pick your brains on. First thing is online classes. This is getting really big in the yoga industry. What’s your take on the impact and tell how business if they need to adjust? What’s your take?
Josh: I think the first off people view the pandemic as something that forced us to pivot. We’re using the word pivot. I even used it in this podcast. I said pivot. The truth is this wasn’t a pivot. This was an inevitability that the industry was moving towards. It was probably going to take another 10 years to get to the point that it is at now. It just compressed it into 1 year. So realize you are not pivoting your business because this wasn’t happening. You’re pivoting just because it sped it up. In 95+ percent cases you need to have some sort of online presence because we’re moving into the digital era which is just we’re literally everything is going to have some digitization of how it is offered.
Equally as important though and we are talking about building a robust business and this is not unique to the time frame we’re in. This has always been the case. Why wouldn’t you have an online offering to increase the value of your memberships? When we are talking about a membership price, if I am offering you two classes a week and only in my physical studio that caps out at 10 people or 15 people, there is a limit to what you can charge for that. Whereas, if you can get in-class classes, my Video on Demand library which has an education element and has classes for whenever you want, and you can live stream a portion of my classes so now my schedule effectively has doubled the size. That’s a higher value point. Is it because your students are all saying I really wish you have a VOD and a live stream or whatever? No, not necessarily. But it doesn’t mean it won’t hold value for them. It is almost such a no-brainer. I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it.
Kevin: What you are saying to me is it’s a package.
Josh: Yeah. Where I think the confusion comes right now with online is we start to look at the online as separate from a brick and mortar business. So if you are a brick and mortar business, there’s two routes you can take online. And this ties all the way back to our vision again that either you have a vision that you’re going to build an online platform and program and whatever else and it will be a sellable product in a larger geographical market than where your physicality is. There are a lot of people out there selling that concept but that’s actually it’s almost a whole separate business model. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Just throwing some yoga classes out is not going to do it. You could do that. Or the alternative vision is we’re not trying to build that. What we are trying to build is additional value for our existing clientele and the future clientele in our existing business. And that in most cases is going to be a better play.
Kevin: I agree. I think there’s maybe a small percentage of businesses that already have a really good brand that are able to maybe extend with online, and it can seem tempting to everybody. But I think for your average business I think what you’re saying is use it as a way to make service better for your existing customer base.
Josh: Sure. The one caveat to what we are saying that I would just throw into the mix here is there is a renewed and unique value in taking an in-person yoga class now because we just went through a huge consumer education moment in time on a few different levels. One of them being how to participate online and everything else. But the other being, people maybe took for granted that yoga was a readily available product that you just show up in and most of the yoga rooms out there are large. There is now limited space and you just get into class and it’s probably pretty inexpensive. It’s actually been pretty big in the industry because the price of everything has gone up over the last 10 years. The price of yoga has gone down. We are at a moment now where actually the price per class for an in-person yoga class for me as a professional with hundreds of hours and thousands of hours of training and experience at this point, I’m going to interact with you and teach you a class and maybe there is a limited capacity as well, you can’t get that for $10 anymore. One, it’s not a good business move. But, two, it is way more valuable than that. The caveat is there will be a unique niche of physical studios out there that aren’t online. They are just physical because that’s really what works for them. But I think it’s going to be a really, really small number because you almost have to lean into that as part of your whole ethos so much that you’re like a counterculture for it to really benefit you as a business. And as much as that might sound sexy to some studio owners out there. Practically launching on that is not so easy.
Kevin: Got it. And then my last question is, in terms of general marketing, given what are you seeing working in terms of the channels people are being successful on? And, again, just give me a refresher on some of the messaging mistakes people are making.
Josh: Sure. So messaging first, I mean, there are a lot of concepts in marketing messaging out there but it’s realizing that the beginning part is the feature that you’re selling. Hey, here’s this feature. But what’s better than selling a feature is selling a benefit. And a lot of us have already heard that. What is better than selling a benefit is selling a transformation. Look at everything that you do, even like one unique style of yoga in your yoga studio and say what’s the feature of this, what is the benefit of it, what is the transformation as a result of it as well. Those three things have to exist with each other to really be effective for the marketing messaging.
In terms of platforms, it’s a little specific to the market but less so like the market geographically and more the market in terms of who are your primary clients. Recently, Facebook has just been taking shit from every direction and rightly so, but the truth is there’s still billions of people on it using it every single day. You’ll hear a lot of funny things like Facebook is dead. It doesn’t work. Facebook Ads are too expensive now or whatever. Maybe comparatively to 10 years ago but it still definitely works. And if your primary avatar is females, 55-70, which is a huge upcoming market for the yoga world for sure, Facebook is a sensible place to be. It’s less about this one is better than that one and more about where are people’s eyeballs. Just simplify it.
The only other detail I would say is there are some very clearly underutilized platforms and gaps that have every reason for us to think if they’ll be successful. If you haven’t figured TikTok out yet, like go get on it. It’s just that there is barely anyone, especially in the yoga world, who is really killing it on TikTok so there is a real opportunity there. The other one and this is for all fitness and wellness is actually YouTube as well. There are some very big names who have had success on YouTube but your average smaller place hasn’t put any effort into it. The reason why that matters is that YouTube is owned by Google so it’s a search engine and the level of intent for someone who is going to end up watching a YouTube video is enormous. You have quality content that exists there if people locally run into that platform. It’s not about major volume. It’s about the level of intent really. And I feel like that’s a big gap that hasn’t been filled.
Kevin: Okay. I think those are two good pointers to finish on. Everyone is going to run away and start a TikTok if they haven’t already. Tell me then, my last question Josh, what is the biggest that you learned for the last 12 months?
Josh: The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last 12 months is that there is no point in panicking. I don’t mean just for my own personal business but just in general just getting to deal with different, very complicated, very stressful business situations in the industry over the last year. As much as we feel like everything is a panic of time, in a rush, and it’s got to be done today or it’s not going to happen. The truth is you make your best decisions when you are in a calm, creative space. And if you cannot panic really like practice your personal yoga practice and breathe, and meditate, and keep that together. That’s when you’re going to have the most success for sure. That’s been heavily highlighted.
Kevin: Yeah, good. No, I definitely agree. Okay, well Josh, I definitely think you are a real wealth of wisdom when it comes to this stuff. Before we wrap up, tell us how all the yoga-preneurs out there can find you and get their business on track.
Josh: Yeah. Thanks, Kevin. Well, you can go to joshbiro.com, and if you own a yoga business then you can do a free strategy session. It’s totally free. It’s an hour long. It’s directly with me. It’s not some weird recording or anything like that. We will actually have a conversation. I will ask you about things you’re dealing with and we will send you away with some actionable items. That’s a great starting point. I do run a membership group called the Yoga-preneur Collective and ultimately it gives you the training and resources to run what we call an insanely profitable yoga business that changes people’s lives. That’s kind of what we’re about. Otherwise, I’m on every social media channel. Go follow me on TikTok once you open that TikTok account – Josh Biro. Yeah, I love to chat with any of you.
Kevin: Okay, we’ll see you there. Thanks, Josh Biro, very much for coming on the show.
Josh: Thanks, Kevin, I appreciate it.
Kevin: Thank you.
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