Deciding to open a yoga studio was a big decision that paid off, but how do you know when or if you’re ready to open a second location?
Sarah Larson-Levey, the co-founder and CEO of Y7 Studio, with 13 locations in New York and California, expanded because her first location was a month-to-month space that was fully self-funded.
“The studio was pretty bare and had just the necessities of what a Y7 needed — basically just a hot, dark yoga room,” said Larson-Levey. “Now our studios are more thoughtfully built out — we take into account how many students are in class at a time to determine how many showers, lockers, etc. we need. The flow of the space is also greatly considered.”
For Kelly Merydith, the co-owner of Ahimsa Yoga Studios, with four locations in Illinois, she knew she wanted to make more people happy, so she expanded.
“Things were running smoothly within our business systems so that freed up our time, and we were making a profit,” said Merydith. “We were making so many people happy, we wanted to share that with more people.”
But, creating a new space doesn’t come without challenges.
Ahimsa Yoga Studio’s biggest hurdle was finding the right space. Merydith said they were so eager to open a second location they ended up choosing a smaller space than they would have liked. “I think this has impacted our growth in the second location,” she said. “We should have held out for a bigger space.”
Merydith said since they chose their new location three miles away, they weren’t competing with themselves, but there were other learning experiences. “We opened a location in a town that had no yoga studios, where the median income is less than half of that of our first location,” she said. “It’s important to treat each town and studio a little bit differently in terms of pricing, class levels and special events.”
Larson-Levey said if she could go back and do things differently, she would have done way more due diligence on real estate in the beginning. She explained she truly had no idea how complicated finding spaces, signing leases and getting contractors could be. “It’s all a learning process and it still is today,” she said. “You take what worked and didn’t work in the prior spaces and make it better.”
For Y7 Studio, what works well for them is sticking to creating the same atmosphere for every studio. “From Day One we have always kept our class experience the same and that is definitely the one thing we know works well time and time again,” said Larson-Levey.
Merydith gave a checklist of items to consider when opening another location: “Have great signage, visibility, high population, a big space — at least 1,500 square feet — high median income and great parking,” she said.
And if you’re purchasing an already existing studio, there are additional considerations. “Be careful when you purchase a studio,” said Merydith. “Students will either be very skeptical and hate change, or they will love you for improving things. If the previous owner continues to be involved in the business, it can cause huge problems if they are not completely ready to let it go and see it change. Don’t be afraid to change the business toward your vision of the business. They sold it for a reason. Make sure expectations and communications are very clear.”
If your business is in the right place and your studio feels confident it is ready to expand, Larson-Levey added it never hurts to proceed with caution when it comes to such an important decision. “Make sure you are opening at a sustainable rate,” she said. “It may seem exciting to grow really fast, but always keep in mind you need to be able to keep up with that growth.”
Opening a second location can not only grow your revenue, it can also grow the reach of lives you’re impacting. If you decide to open a second location, consider following the advice that Larson-Levey and Merydith offered. However, when it comes to deciding if you should open another location, that’s a decision only you can make.