As Summer approaches, the weather becomes warm for most of us. Where I live in Southern California, the hills and mountains have been covered with flowers that are just now fading. The season is definitely changing.
For a yoga studio, Summer can be a hard time. A number of my private clients have asked me Al, how do I deal with business slowing down during the Summer? People are going on vacation, and even wanting to cancel auto-renew. What can I do? The good news is, with the right approach, Summer can actually be a moderately good season, and most importantly, one that leads to a very good Fall.
But, its important to know the hidden consequences of the Summer season in order to prevent them effectively. By understanding the big picture, we can make Summer a decent season. So, here’s the deal. Summer has the obvious problem where people go away or somehow change their regular routine. As a result, they stop coming to your studio during this time. Consequently, you lose revenue. But this isnt the worst part. The real concern is that even after many of these people come home and resume their regular lifestyle, they won’t come back! Youll be stuck in the Fall, needing to re-build part of your student base because people broke their routine.
Remember, each time someone has to decide again whether to come to your studio, there is an opportunity to lose them as a student. This doesn’t serve their yoga practice, and it doesnt serve you financially (or philosophically). If someone is on auto-renew (I hope you all have an auto-renew program by now!), they may cancel it with the genuine belief that they will resume in the Fall. But when September rolls around, they are so busy with other stuff, they just don’t get back to it. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?
So here is the solution. We have two main goals. First, we want to keep students during the Summer to generate at least some revenue. Second (and most importantly), we need to retain students through the Fall. The technique I find most effective for this is to offer a great 3-month deal to students that takes them through the Summer. For a monthly unlimited membership, what this might look like is, Three months for the price of two! or $200 for the whole Summer! The key is, it must carry them through to the beginning of Sepetember (and then revert to the regular price), usually, its June, July and August. Now, you might be thinking “Come on Al, I cant do a monthly unlimited for $66 a month.” The key is to remember that many of these students would otherwise have taken the time off and you wouldnt have made the money anyway. Plus, this way, they will be back in the Fall.
You won’t need to worry about them re-considering whether to practice yoga regularly, or even considering another studio. Another aspect of this approach is that while other studios may be struggling during the Summer with special discounts for one month or just a class card, you will in fact be attracting new students who cant resist such a great deal. And, guess what studio these new students will continue at when September rolls around? At regular price none the less. Next, let’s look at how to make things even better.
Remember the essential rule of being the boss. You make the rules AND, you reserve the right to make exceptions any time you see fit. And No, you dont need to let people know in advance that you sometimes make exceptions to any given rule. This means that if you have individual students with special circumstances, you can give them whatever offer you please to make it a win-win situation for both of you. Let’s look at an example.
A student walks into the studio and tells you shell be away for most of July and August, and she wants to cancel her monthly unlimited auto-renew. You tell her about your Three months for the price of two special, but she points out, she’ll only be around for one month. Now at this point, remember that from a business perspective, your goal with this student is not so much to make money during the Summer as it is to be sure she comes back in the Fall. So, you tell her you understand her situation, and you really want it to work for her so you are willing to give her three months for the price of one. This way, she can use the studio even if shes back in town for just a few days between her Summer trips. The bottom line is, we never want to lose a student just because they are away for a brief period. Remember, if you are paying teacher per head, it doesn’t cost you anything if a student doesnt show up.
Now, there is even more we can do during Summer. We’ve just talked about how to keep from losing students, and also maybe getting some new ones. But if you read my newsletters, Im hoping that you are someone who plays life to win, and not simply to avoid losing (think about this for a minute – they are very different). Summer is a time when many people try new things. New diets, new fitness programs, and yes, decide to try yoga. Its a time to hit promotions hard.
Here is a sample strategy. Give a free yoga day. Since it’s free, you can promote it for free in local papers, on the radio and even on local TV news. Contact each medias main phone number and tell them that you want them to do a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for a free community event. Also, two days prior to the event, notify their newsroom and ask them if they will send a news team out to cover the event (Yes, your studio is entirely worthy of being covered by the news – try it first, then tell me what you think). Now, here is the key. At the end of every free class, have the teacher spend five minutes thanking people for coming, and then giving them a special discount if they sign up before they leave. Offer them a HUGE discount, like one month of unlimited yoga for $40 (See the Yoga Works interview in the Super Studios Manual for details about this http://www.centeredbusiness.com/superstudios.htm).
The goal is to get them coming to your studio and liking it. After their first month, you transition them to a regular price program. Its not about what you can earn this month so much as what you can earn in the future, month after month after month. By the way, teachers will often volunteer their time for free yoga days, since if the studio gets more students they will make more (if they are paid per head).
There are many more strategies and techniques – this is a summary of just one. If you’re interested in more, the Home Study Studio Success Course (see www.centeredbusiness.com/homestudy.htm) has many of them. But for now your goal is to keep your students through Summer. Remember, youre the boss. Change and revise what we’ve talked about here to fit your situation. Just keep your outcome in mind. My best wishes to you for a happy and successful Summer.
Coach Al Lipper
P.S. Please let me know what you think of this article. What other studio business topics would you like to learn more about in the future? You may email me at: coach@CenteredBusiness.com
About Coach Al:
Al Lipper is a master business coach, business teacher and writer. For free resources on running a yoga studio as a successful and fun business, visit www.CenteredBusiness.com.