Known across the country as a “yoga instigator & community connector,” I've spent a decade getting involved in every nook and cranny of the yoga industry I’ve been able to find. From managing studios and programming for CorePower Yoga and Life Time Fitness and presenting at national conferences, to co-owning a studio with my wife and traveling as a program consultant, I noticed pretty quickly that no matter where in the world you are, the New Year brings a surge of new students. I’ve also noticed a lot of studios leaving the opportunity to be of greater service and capture greater revenue to chance each and every January. Let’s fix that!
I strongly recommend having a plan in place to engage and retain new students (aka customers!) in the New Year, and to reinvigorate the relationships you have with your existing ones – it may very well be the key to this being your yoga studio’s most successful year yet!
Below are 4 opportunities to help ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success when it comes to connecting with, and retaining students:
#1 Keep a Clean House
A 2012 survey conducted by the Cintas Corporation found that 88% of adults won’t exercise in a health or fitness facility if they find it to have cleanliness issues – can you say saucha!?
Consistent and proper cleaning of your yoga and fitness tiles not only helps protect the health of you and your students, it also extends the life and the look of your space and, possibly even more important, it can be the difference between a new student becoming a regular or becoming a memory!
Action Item: Keep a spray bottle of disinfectant and a dedicated microfiber floor mop available for each practice area in your studio so that your teachers can wipe down and reset the space after each class. The more accessible and routine cleaning activities are, the more likely they are to get done!
#2 Have an Intro Offer
While I’m not bold enough to publicly wander into the debate over whether or not new students should get a free class, a free week, or anything at all in regards to enticing them into your space for their first visit, I’m more than willing to go on record saying that once someone new has experienced your studio and gotten a glimpse of its offerings, you can help them overcome any hesitations they have regarding the greater commitment, financial or otherwise, of buying a full class pack or membership, by offering a special – something just for new students – an introductory package or trial.
Action Item: Create, and share on your studio’s social media, an offer for your new students AND one for existing students.
- For new students, you’ll want a rather aggressive introductory offer. The objective is to create an irresistibly low-risk opportunity for them to layer your studio into their weekly routine. Knowing that it takes time for habits to be adjusted, aim for an offer that allows people anywhere from 2-4 weeks of yoga classes before having to transition to a standard class package or product.
- For existing students look at your costs and determine an aggressive discount on a full year of membership in exchange for a one-time, upfront, lump sum payment. Recent surveys show that listing discounts of 35% or higher in the subject line of an email to existing students can dramatically increase open and click-through rates!
Extra Credit: Talk to your existing student body and ask them to share the posts as a way to help spread the benefits of yoga with their friends and family!
#3 Engage and Encourage
Through both experience and research I’m more than confident saying that studio owners and managers who actively plan to engage with new students are liable to see 12 month retention rates nearly 25-30% higher than those who don’t.
Yes, you read that right! I’m telling you that both anecdotal and research based evidence suggest that simply greeting your students by name, following-up after their initial visits, and keeping in-contact with them monthly, can convince an additional 25-30 out of every 100 new students that they should give you money every month for a year! Combine that with a clean facility that has a strong introductory offer to share with newer students and you’ve positioned yourself in the strongest possible way, from this space it’s all about the yoga and related programming.
Action Item: Review your current approach to student and attendance management. Are using software to manage and grow your business? If you’re not, you need to review your options. I’m personally a fan of Tula Software as it provides nearly all the features of Mind Body at a reduced cost – Tula charges a monthly subscription fee and uses the combined buying power of all its subscribers to reduce the fees associated with credit card transactions, not so with the other options. Some of the features to look for in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool are:
- Create and post class and program schedules
- Track package and membership sales and record attendances
- Easily accept payments online or in person
- Manage members and other recurring payments
- Record and analyze attendance data
- Capture electronic waivers
- Send customer emails
#4 Surprise and Delight
Whether a student has been with you for a week, a month, or more, they almost certainly love to be recognized, especially when the recognition comes with a special gift or unique access to a service. This not only increases their connection to your studio, it also subtly encourages them to tell their friends and family about your studio and how great it is – something they tend to do less and less frequently the longer they are with you.
A great way to acknowledge the students who have repeatedly invested in your studio is to celebrate them with a free birthday or studio anniversary class, a decent quality t-shirt, tank top, car decal, etc.
Action Item: Review your membership rolls, generate a list of everyone who has been with you longer than 6 months, and split the list into two – one will have the names of those students who have been to your studio within the last 90 days, and the other will be everyone else. From there, do a little research and for the group who has been coming regularly, build a budget based off of spending no more than 2-3% of your average monthly gross revenue per student on a cost effective promotional item. For the group that has not been to your facility in some time, you’ll want another rather aggressive offer intended to create an irresistible re-entry point (at arguably no cost). This is not intended to be posted on social media though. For this offer you’ll want a personalized email blast with a compelling title, you’re taking the conversation to them. Here’s to a possibility and prosperity filled 2018!