Improving Yoga Studio Ownership

three friends laughing
We have been teachers, managers and studio owners since 2008 and in our time running studios we have identified  20 reasons that could cause a yoga studio to fail. We have also identified solutions to these troubling situations so that studios and studio owners can avoid unnecessary stress or loss, and focus on improving yoga studio ownership. We have done this because Thrive Yoga Studios is more than just a yoga brand, it is a studio collective that focuses on fostering conscious and informed studio leaders. We provide owner training programs and a yoga studio collective for existing owners AND a franchise system for aspiring owners. We hope the list below can serve studio owners across the world.
  • Not hiring help and/or lack of delegation. At first you need to manage most parts of the business, but if you are unable to replace yourself you are setting yourself up for a long, slow and painful failure. Owner and teacher burnout is a serious issue. You must learn to budget for and hire people that are better than you to work in your business. There are creative ways to hire the right people!
  • Not proactively managing competition. Yoga continues to gain popularity which means that our client base is growing but client loyalty is not being reported at the same rate. If you operate in a studio with numerous competitors or if your town is ripe for a second competitor, you must be proactive about managing your competition. We do this by building brand value, building community, building long-term relationships and targeting the yoga-enthusiast. This allows us to always know how to find and retain customers and allows us to continue to build value.
  • Not giving enough energy to gaining new students. You will learn that your number one priority is recruiting new students. This is essential from the moment you open your studio until the day it is sold! A regular stream of clients (drop-ins, pass holders and members) is critical to your survival. In order to get more clients you must maintain a presence and gain authority in select channels such as google search rankings, community events, local advertising, social media and referral programs.
  • Difficulty retaining students & customers Thriving Yoga Studios build thriving communities. This means that we are responsible for building a loyal and awakened customer base. Existing customers are more likely to try new products and support your higher ticket items. It costs more to acquire new members and students therefore it is easier to retain customers than it is to acquire them.
  • Being inconsistent. Not being consistent is a major issue in yoga studios because a dedicated yogi requires consistent practice! Consider your favorite restaurant; it is probably your favorite because every time you go there, it is exactly as you hoped it would be! Some areas where we can be consistent are our class styles, class schedules, and communication styles.
  • Lacking fresh and challenging classes Once you have a loyal customer base, you will need to keep them happy! Students want fresh and energized classes. Your students are more likely to return when you have classes that are always worth attending. Each and every student must be engaged. This doesn’t mean that every class must be wildly different but it should be mindfully varied.
  • Not being able to attract and retain good teachers. Our yoga teachers are the lifeblood of our studios. You must want to care for your teaching staff! Hiring good teachers is a top priority and it is very difficult. Great teachers means more than being good at teaching asana, they must also be great at marketing themselves. It also helps if see the studio as a means to growing their own teaching business. Good teachers are likely more experienced but not always, you must also love cultivating younger teachers, especially those that live for the practice.
  • Losing your passion for the Business of Yoga. As the owner, you will eat, sleep and breathe your studio for a while. This means you will be constantly immersed in the practices as well as the operations. If you are not wholeheartedly dedicated to bringing yoga to the world, eventually you will lose interest in making your studio successful. If you aren’t leading the charge, then who else will?
  • Treating your yoga studio as a hobby and not as a business. Yoga studios are open 80-100hours week, 7 days a week and nearly 365/year. Yoga studios also have the potential to generate millions of dollars throughout their lifetime. In summary, they are not hobbies, they are REAL businesses and really demanding businesses. If you hope to run it part-time or as a side-hustle, then opening a brick and mortar is not likely for you! As a studio owner you end up with large amount of responsibility to other people and entities, it is a big job and requires a true professional.
  • Not being able to manage cash flow. We can teach you how to understand and best manage cash flow in a few of our many financial training sessions but in summary, if you aren’t sure of how cash works in your business then you might be quick to run out of money at all the wrong times. When you are a part of Thrive Yoga Studios, we won’t let that happen, but know that it is an area where you could run into trouble if you are financially unorganized and unaware.
  • Not valuing or paying for legal and professional support. Remember this is a real business, with real responsibilities. We encourage you to seek legal counsel and professional support to be sure that you fully understand the contracts and relationships that you are agreeing to as a business owner. Managing agreements at the forefront will prevent unnecessary ugliness when it comes time to “close” or terminate those relationships. Some other examples of professional support are Attorneys, CPA’s, Tax Preparers and Financial Advisors.
  • Choosing the wrong location & rent that is too high. We intentionally help owners select locations that we believe will be successful. A part of this is knowing how to profile communities and the other part of this is understanding what a yoga studio can realistically afford and sustain. “You make your money at the sale.” This applies to studio owners, if you sign a lease with rent that is too high, you will ruin your profitability for the foreseeable future. There are other factors some being sufficient parking and accessibility from residential neighborhoods that might also affect how successful you can be.
  • Not knowing how to work ON your business. At Thrive Yoga Studios we teach you how to become a skilled business owner. This includes knowing how and what to look for and work on as the business owner. We host goal-setting sessions, provide templates, systems and dashboards, as well as quarterly reviews to help you understand the direction of your business. This means that on any given day you will know how your studio is performing and what you need to focus on!
  • Not paying attention to the industry at large. One of our objectives at Thrive Yoga Studios is to steer and influence the yoga industry but in order to do that we must be aware of general industry trends. We don’t recommend that you follow them all, but be aware of them and do your best to get involved. Once we cultivate awareness around the industry then we can begin to understand where we fit in and how we can best influence the collective future of yoga in America.
  • Lack of business & community partnerships. Business partnerships can solve problems such as space underutilization and off-season lulls via establishing non-traditional contracts and teaching opportunities. Partnering with entities in your region is a wise revenue and marketing strategy.
  • Expanding too quickly. Many people believe that opening a second location won’t be double the work, and they are correct it is more like TRIPLE the work. You can’t simply copy and paste when it comes to expanding. Yes, it might drive more sales but it could also drive you to burnout. Second locations will require new staff, spaces, bills, relationships, obligations, marketing channels, and more. We do not encourage our owners open multiple units until their “bread and butter” location is both profitable and sustainable.
  • Failure to manage your reputation. A good reputation comes from when what we say the brand is, matches the customers experience. It is incredibly important that you always maintain the ability to manage the customers experience and therefore your reputation. Protect your reputation by being proactive; ask for customer feedback and stay on top of customer reviews. Be a good listener! It is important that you come to understand what your students expect from you space.
  • Lack of a community. If we are doing our jobs correctly, then we are always working to build community which includes your teacher community and your student community. Can you describe who is in your community and how you nurture it? If you are NOT seeing customer or staff loyalty it is probably because you do not have a strong yoga community. This can be remedied and we will help you to do so.
  • Failure to manage expectations and plan accordingly. From day one we work with you to help you manage your expectations. Our studios tend to break even and/or make a profit early on but we prepare studio owners to not breakeven until 16-18 months after opening. That means that you will need supplemental income to sustain you until you reach that point. Our forecasts can predict studio activity but they cannot predict unforeseen economic circumstances. As the owner you must manage your expectations and be prepared to support yourself until your studio is self-sustaining. This means, not drawing off of the business until the business can honestly afford to do so.
  • Not utilizing business debt when necessary. Most yoga studio owners prefer to bootstrap their studios, we love this idea and encourage owners to do so as long as they can be adequately funded. Studios are slower to grow which makes them higher risk than other businesses. If you do not have enough funds to launch your business then we encourage you to take advantage of commercial debt options. One major mistake that studio owners make is delaying expenditures because of a lack of cash flow, but that means you’re limiting your businesses functionality and growth. Not all debt is bad, unmanageable and unaffordable debt is bad. Business loans can help you built a sustainable future and ensure that you make it through the start up phase. If you want support identifying appropriate lending options, please contact us as we have spent many years finding excellent partners.
 Join us in improving yoga studio ownership one studio at a time. If there is anything we can do to support you, please reach out ASAP! Our team is here for you.