Open Strong, Stay Open: How to Keep Your Yoga Studio Successful

Presented by Andrew Tanner, E-RYT 500 Published on: September 5, 2014

The life of a yoga studio owner doesn't end at being the fitness guru and “money-maker.” According to former Yoga Alliance® board member Andrew Tanner, E-RYT 500, "Owning a yoga studio is a lot like being a minister at a church, a psychotherapist, an aerobics instructor and an administrator, all rolled into one." Even if you can't do all of those jobs or focus effectively on every aspect of business, you may be able to find partners who can fill in those roles in addition to professional tools and programs to help streamline your business so it operates more efficiently. Beyond that, Andrew offers more tips for what you may want to consider before and after you open a studio so your business is profitable and work is fulfilling.

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Nine Things to Consider Before You Open a Yoga Studio

If you're running a yoga studio, Andrew says you have to love yoga, otherwise you're missing what makes a studio special. The culture you're able to create at your studio should be intrinsically reflective of both the building itself and the business owner. Andrew calls that your "special sauce." Before opening up shop, he recommends asking yourself the following:

  1. Is yoga studio ownership right for me?
  2. What is my mission, vision and brand?
  3. What is the right space/location for my studio?
  4. What kind of web presence do I need (website, mobile, social media, etc.)?
  5. Do I know the basics of pricing and marketing?
  6. How do I get the right systems in place?
  7. How do I build a great team of teachers?
  8. Do I know how to budget for my business?
  9. What legal considerations should I factor?

If you know owning a yoga studio is what you want to do and you have the right location for your studio, then it's time to turn your attention to your online presence. "I feel once you take care of the simple stuff, like your ‘special sauce,’ your product and finding the right space — all of which is your product — fleshing out your website and digital identity will come a bit more naturally," says Andrew.

Picking the Right Location: Space, Sense and Surroundings

Unless you're paying $300 or less per month in rent and don’t have a staff, your facility will need to accommodate at least 20 students, Andrew says. That means you'll need a minimum of 700 square feet of space.

The best way to keep costs down is to avoid setting up shop in a place that requires extra construction or repairs for plumbing or improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning. You should also consider how the little things might affect your practice, even things as seemingly inconsequential as the smell of the business next door. "If your students can't bliss out in savasana, your business is DOA," said Andrew. "So if they can't feel bliss at the end of class because of noise, smells or whatever, you're dead. Just move. Immediately."

Set Your Prices Intelligently Without Undervaluing Your Service

Drop-in prices are supposed to be "icky," says Andrew. The reason for that is because you want to encourage retention among your students by offering multi-class packages at lower rates. Every studio should highlight the class that is the best value for students and have enough reliable data to track cash flow. Andrew suggests offering students:

  • an introductory package so affordable "you can't refuse it"
  • a package of 10 classes discounted 20 percent lower than the drop-in value
  • rewards for membership
  • special offers with a 30 day expiration
  • automatic online payments with commitments

"People who sign up for classes should look at the monthly, auto-renew package as the most rewarding deal because you want to reward clients who are with you for the long haul. They will spend more money," says Andrew. Your returning students are the ones most likely to ask for private sessions, sign up for teacher trainings and attend workshops. Also, only offer annual memberships during your slow months when you need to add a quick infusion to your cash flow.

Inform Beginners and Make Scheduling Easy with Your Website

Potential clients who are new to yoga may not know what to expect from your studio, so tell them upfront. "It's really important that your website has a page that tells beginners what they're supposed to do," says Andrew. "Because a lot of people have heard of yoga and they're really scared. They need guidance."

For your returning clients, set up your website so it's easy to find the class schedule – ideally it should be located at the top of your page, leaving the middle of the page open for whatever you're promoting. Always make sure your class schedule is up-to-date and web users can make purchases in three clicks or less. Andrew recommends using MindBody software that doesn't open links externally so your clients stay on your website.

About Andrew Tanner

Andrew Tanner, E-RYT 500, is a yoga teacher and wellness entrepreneur. His experience includes consulting on hundreds of fitness-related business websites, licensing a yoga brand and running the Kripalu Schools of Yoga and Ayurveda. He is a former executive board member with the Yoga Alliance and the New York University School of Arts and Science. He is co-author of the book "So You Want to Open a Yoga Studio."

Eligibility for Continuing Education

This workshop counts for one Continuing Education Non-Contact Hour or one RYS Curriculum Non-Contact Hour under the Teaching Methodology category.

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