Workshops give students the chance to learn more in depth on a particular topic. However, the struggle in executing them smoothly lies with the owner or the manager in charge of planning the event. Often, it can be a struggle to balance marketing, profitability and scheduling.
A good way to plan out your workshop schedule is to determine what topics your students could benefit from or what they would like to see. Becky Nickerson, the owner of Infinity Yoga in Atlanta, Georgia, said the staff at their studio are consistently listening to what their students’ interests are.
“We always have our ear to the pavement at our studio,” said Nickerson. “We look at our students and see what they need, and communicate and listen to their feedback as well.”
Usually people are going to be interested in the yoga styles trending in their area. Dana Smith, the owner of Spiritual Essence Yoga in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, said her studio plans workshops around what their students are talking about, but also in accordance with what is becoming popular in surrounding cities.
“There are different things here in Maryland that aren’t going to be relatable to people in California, and vice versa,” said Smith. “See where the balance can be made. People need to see that it’s not just about the mat, it’s how they can take it off the mat and see that it’s something lasting.”
Smith tries to fit these trending topics into her monthly themes centered around a yoga philosophy, pranayama or asana. Each month, the workshop covers that topic in hopes of giving students an extended practice in that certain area.
For each of these workshops, Smith offers pre-sale discounts for students who sign up early. It’s a good way for her to gauge how many students she should be expecting.
“Early bird discounts are great because people always love discounts,” said Smith. “We make sure we have researched the topic and it’s something people are really interested in. We won’t offer something unless we know there’s a true interest for it.”
Nickerson also attested to early bird discounts working for her studio. With some workshops being challenging and stressful to manage, she explained her most profitable workshops come from the studio’s in-house teachers. It’s difficult to make profits when hiring an outside or traveling teacher.
“Our most profitable workshops are with our home teachers because we don’t have to pay for travel and airfare,” explained Nickerson. “I had to stop looking at profits as [just] monetary. It’s also about the value [workshops] add to your community. By cultivating a community and giving students unique offerings they are wanting, you are hopefully ensuring their longevity with your studio.”
A successful and profitable workshop for Smith and Nickerson can be attested to early planning. Smith plans her workshops out twice a year, scheduling each workshop at least six months in advance.
“We will go with the season and use our community along with research,” explained Smith. “For anyone wanting to use workshops as a great revenue stream, you have to get out there and do research and plan in advance.”
Another benefit of offering workshops is they have the potential to bring in new clients. Motivating your staff to have a follow-up conversation with each new student on if they would like to try out a beginner package, will end up making you more successful in the long run.
“We use workshops to market to new students,” said Smith. “We do classes like ‘Yoga with Props’ and ‘How to Make Yoga More Accessible.’ Typically, what happens is after the workshop we get people signing up for classes because they love it and want more of it.”
Infinity Yoga has a similar strategy in follow-ups with workshop participants. However, they also host mini-workshops completely free for new students as a way to get them exposed to yoga, without the intimidation factor.
“Our members could also attend the mini-workshops if they brought a friend who had never been to the studio before,” said Nickerson. “After the mini-workshop we pitch them the new student specials, which a lot of people take advantage of.”
Finally, prioritize marketing the workshops. If no one knows about them, no one will come.
“Make sure you have all of your email blasts and flyers posted and scheduled out,” said Nickerson. “Get the word out by the minimum of a month in advance. Everything needs to be squared away and ready to go.”