By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
What are the secrets of successful Yoga studios? What will happen if you are a competent, talented, and compassionate Yoga teacher, without enough dedicated students? Here is a simple answer: Don’t quit your “day job” and don’t open a studio of your own. Sorry to be so blunt, but you need time to grow your following.
When, or if, you develop a following as an independent contractor, then and only then, think about opening a Yoga center. This is not meant to be harsh, but there are enough Yoga centers with poor business skills to go around, and you don’t need to lose every penny you saved without developing sound business plans. Observe successful Yoga studios and learn how they became what they are.
Therefore, please take time to develop a business plan with goals and estimated time frames. Unfortunately, I have seen too many studios open with a “one month plan.” Can you imagine opening an ashram without a telephone, getting caught up in zoning board complications, or just hoping for the best? One poorly organized studio makes all Yoga teachers look bad, and leaves the public thinking every Yoga studio is like that.
How do you feel when you go to a deli for the 20th time and the counter help tries to avoid you? Do you feel like going back again, when, half the time, they get your order wrong? Where am I going with this?
Every studio should have an appointed person for customer service and public relations. Yoga instructors should know all of their students’ names “by heart.” If you ignore your students, there is no reason for them to stay. They will feel unwelcome and unworthy. One of the worst ways to handle a student / teacher relationship is to ignore a student.
Be careful of perceptions that make you feel like you are better than your students. Remember that your students pay you to teach Yoga. You should treat them like your best friends. How many of your friends are paying for your meals, car, mortgage, or your vacations? Your students are “number one.”
Doing the “little extras,” keeps students in your classes. When a student has a question, it is your job to give an informed answer; and if you do not have one, consult with a senior teacher or your mentor. If you are not a “people person,” do not become a Yoga instructor.
Make sure that the person who answers your phone loves people. You can’t keep a studio open with a grumpy receptionist. The receptionist is the initial “gate keeper” of a studio, and for students, that gate should be held open with a wide smile.
Successful Yoga studios should be havens for students to find what they seek, without putting up with inferior service. They face far too much of it, outside the Yoga class. You should know the needs of your students and promise only what you can deliver.
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