You’re teaching a fraction of the students you were reaching few weeks ago. Your income has been decimated. You’ve tried taking your classes online but it’s not paying the bills. What can you do to fix things? Plenty.
There are two things you need to do right now:
- Build your classes right away to earn some income
- Get ready for the future - business as usual is not coming back and you need to prepare for the new opportunities waiting for you.
Here are four proven ways to get your classes humming and your future looking bright.1. Look after your current students
Even if you’ve only got one or two students left, now is the time to figure out how to look after them so they’ll never, ever want to do yoga with anybody else.
I ran a boutique yoga studio for 16yrs and our success was based on what we called ‘extreme customer service’. Looking after our students like they were the most precious things in the world ensured they kept coming back to class (and brought all their friends, too). From personalised communications to exclusive offers were constantly finding new ways to make our students feel special - and it paid off big time.
Want to learn 8 ways to delight YOUR students and keep them coming back? Download our inspiring cheat sheet here.
What can you do to amaze and delight your students? Figure that out now and, as you start bringing new students on board, you’ll know how to use extreme customer service to make sure every new student stays super loyal too (BTW, it’s much easier and cost effective to keep a student than find a new one).
2. Contact the students who ‘faded away’
This is a winning strategy! Every time I mine my database for ‘lost’ students, I not only get to reconnect with old friends but always end up with new bookings. And NOW is the time to do it. I have spoken to dozens of teachers who have reconnected with students they haven’t seen for years because they moved away. With online classes, they’re now teaching old students from all over the country and beyond.
Contacting your lost students needs to be done effectively - don’t just send out a generic email saying ‘hey, where’ve you been? Come and do my classes!’ Send a thoughtful, personalised email that is more about reconnection than selling. Something along the lines of:
‘It’s been a while since we did yoga together and I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy in these challenging times. How’s your yoga practice going? I wanted to let you know that I’m offering yoga online for my students right now - it’s really helping us to stay balanced right now. Can you join us?’
Then add your class times and a link to join in. Perhaps even offer the first class for free.
The only problem with this top strategy is if you don’t have a database of past and present students. So now’s the time to build one. That’s a whole other blog post. Right now, just start a Google Sheet with the name and email of each of your current students and add to it every time you get an enquiry. You’ll have a healthy database in no time.
3. Ask for referrals
Sounds terrifying? It's time to face your fears. Referrals are a powerful way of building your classes. But you have to ask for them! If you’re offering great classes and your students are experiencing fantastic results, they’ll be delighted to give referrals. But your current students are not the only place to look for referrals.
You already have a powerful referral network - you’re just not using it. Think about all your friends and family members - have you asked them to refer people they know to your classes? If you haven’t explicitly asked for referrals, do it.
What about your hobbies and social activities? Have you asked the people in your choir, church, running club, art class, mothers group etc. to refer their friends and family to you if they’re looking for a yoga class?
Just to be clear, I’m not advocating you pester friends and family to DO your classes. If they’re not into yoga, that’s fine. I’m encouraging you to ask them to refer their yoga loving friends to you. Recently a friend (who isn't into yoga) texted me: ‘My uncle has an old sport injury that’s playing up. He wants to give yoga a try but he doesn’t know where to start - can you help?’ Bingo.
Asking for referrals is not 'hard selling'. It's serving. If you are offering high quality yoga classes that enhance people's lives, you have a duty to share that. And those closest to you want to support you. Service and support - that's yoga, not 'hard selling.'
4. Grow your network
The more people you engage with, the easier it is to get referrals and find new opportunities. From Facebook groups to business groups, there are lots of people out there looking to connect with you to share information and build opportunities.
When I ran my boutique yoga studio, I hosted a ‘creative business mastermind’ group. I gathered together a group of like-minded women who ran their own businesses, including a fashion designer, naturopath, horticulturalist, chef, freelance writer and a meditation teacher.
We met once a quarter in a Sydney restaurant to share our wins, our challenges and our inspirations. In between meetups, we set ourselves business challenges, like starting (or completing) a project or developing a marketing plan. We supported each other, kept each other accountable, bought each other's products and services and shared referrals. And I can’t tell you how valuable it is to get out of the yoga bubble and share ideas with people facing similar challenges in other industries!
These four strategies are tried, tested and proven to work. If you’re down to just one or two students (or starting from scratch), it may take a little longer to get things off the ground. But the work you do now will determine how your teaching schedule looks in three months time. Your future is there in your hands right now.
Looking for more yoga teacher resources? Visit the Adore Yoga Therapy Resource Page.
Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.