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When was the last time you walked into a brand new situation and had no idea what to expect or do? It might have been a restaurant where the customs were unexpected, getting your car registered in a new state or even opening a bank account.
It’s awkward, right? Now imagine you’re doing that new thing in a group where everyone watching knows exactly how to do the thing.
You don’t have to experience intense social anxiety to imagine how hard it can be to do the right things the first time with everyone watching.
Now imagine someone off the streets walking into your yoga studio for the first time: what’s going to convert them into a regular student?
True story, my mom attended yoga classes at a senior center during a time when she was between jobs on the days when she didn’t have quilting class. Once, the instructor spent 10 minutes on a lecture about recycling and the Planet Earth before they moved into a single pose. She rolled up her mat and walked out thinking they’d never get to the, you know, yoga.
When you’re working with clients who may come and go week to week but who you’d like to be repeat customers, then teaching them “this is how we do things” is critical to fostering a sense of belonging.
These can be simple things such as “here’s where we put our shoes” with a sign or “you’re welcome to use a mat! Pick one out here and please use this spray to wipe down at the end of class.”
Some of the instructions might be a little more hands on, such as assisting with a pose, adapting to the skill level of a new practitioner, or even suggesting the best classes for beginners vs. advanced students. These systems simply make your yoga students feel welcome.
Systems for Client Support
It’s much easier to think of the client support systems in a physical place like your yoga studio, but you can go beyond the room as well. Emails suggesting clothing appropriate for class can help the newbie who is nervous about what to wear. If you will burn incense or prefer students not wear any strong perfumes, include that in the class notes. You may even make recommendations for yoga tracking apps, music for daily practices or the best water bottles you’ve found.
If you run a yoga retreat or event, then you’ll want client support systems that answer ALL the questions that might come up from “what are the rooms like?” to “what’s the schedule?”
The result of writing down these systems for your business is powerful: you’ll lower the anxiety and uncertainty of your clients, making it easier for them to make the commitment and arrive in the right frame of mind.
It’s easy to say, ‘well you should just trust and be and be in the moment’ and that’s definitely something to work on. But when you understand that when someone knows what to expect, they *can* relax it’s easier to provide these details.
Imagine showing up for a class and you don’t know if it’s an hour or 5 hours. You might spend the whole class worrying about the parking meter or picking up the kids from the sitter on time and completely miss the value of the class. Simply knowing “this class will wrap up in an hour” will take away that worry and allow the client to refocus on the moment, not the pending ticket on her car.
Systems for social media and media
One of the benefits of a business in yoga is that there’s a nearly endless supply of inspiration and opportunities to reach the masses. I’m sure you have photos of your studio space, clients enjoying the class, quotes and more that can be shared regularly on social media.
It’s worth the time to consider what you WON’T share as well as some easy to follow guidelines (such as: always get the client’s permission before sharing a photo). Also consider what profile and hashtags you’ll use to promote your business so you can encourage clients to “check in” online and tag you in their posts.
The media is great for you as well, health and wellness is a huge topic and you can tie in yoga practices of mindfulness and rest with the physical elements of taking a class, attending a retreat or practicing at home.
Write down some of the local TV and radio stations where you should be sharing about your yoga business, as well as any local and national magazines or newspapers you’d like to reach out to over time. Remember that editors and producers always need new content, so whether that’s sharing great gifts for yoga lovers at the holidays or your tips on reducing stress any time of year, be prepared to share with some fun pitch ideas and resources you can share with a new audience.
Next time we’ll talk about managing teachers in your practice and taking time off!