Keeping your studio offerings appealing to your students is essential to earning and retaining their business. Without a substantial list of class options that interest your students, before long your clients will find something else that catches their attention, so it is important that you are regularly evaluating your offerings and adjusting them to fit the wants and needs of your student population.
Adding a new class to your schedule may seem like a daunting task at first, but I’ve created a list of elements to take into consideration when deciding what type of class to offer, who should teach it, and when it should be offered to your students.
Deciding on a Class Type
Assess Demand – In the health and fitness world there are always new practices developing, as well as others fading into the background. Keep an eye out for new and interesting types of classes, but be sure to stay true to your studio’s strengths and mission. Does the class type jive with your studio’s culture? For example, foam rolling classes may have become popular in neighboring studios, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be of interest to the students who come to your studio. It is also important to ask yourself whether this practice is a fad or a more sustainable trend within the yoga community as a whole. A studio may add an interesting new class to their schedule, but this does not guarantee that it will have long-term viability at that studio, or yours for that matter.
Student Input – Because a class needs to have a lot of students to make it worthwhile to add to the schedule, I recommend using caution when utilizing student input for programming purposes. Taking suggestions from students and listening to their input is a valuable aspect of improving your business in many ways, but I suggest testing the waters with an idea for a new class before adding it to your schedule. You can do this by offering a series or workshop on the type of class, which allows you to get feedback from the students before making a permanent change to your drop-in offerings. A series can be especially helpful, as you can offer a six-week session during a time slot similar to what you have in mind for the drop in schedule. With the information gleaned from student feedback and attendance numbers, you’ll be able to gauge whether the class will be a good fit.
Cross-Over Classes – Blending styles of yoga can offer interesting new options for your students while also attracting devotees of one or both of the individual styles. For example, Barre classes are popular in many cities, so it is possible that a yoga and Barre fusion class would interest your current clientele as well as draw students from Barre studios who are interested in trying yoga. If you need inspiration, try a web search of what is offered at studios similar to yours. Again, look to see if the class has been on their schedule for at least a year to assess whether this is a new addition the studio is trying out or a class that has been successful enough to stay on the schedule.
Target Populations – There are many possibilities for classes geared toward a particular population, such as Yoga for Men, Chair Yoga, Mommy/Baby Yoga, and Teen Yoga, to name a few. The question you must ask yourself is whether you have a large enough population to fill these classes on a regular basis. Chances are that if you don’t live in a large city, the class won’t fill often enough to make it a worthwhile offering. However, if you find a niche for your studio that no one else offers, that just might be the ticket. For example, Adaptive Yoga classes are often offered at Senior Centers, but they could be a great option if your city does not already offer them.
Choosing an Instructor
Your choice of instructor is critical to the success of a new class on your schedule. One of the best ways to ensure a new class’s success is to start with a popular teacher who has limited offerings on your schedule—again, it is all about demand. However, one caveat is that you must schedule wisely; you do not want the new class to detract from the attendance of other classes also taught by that teacher. Another key to success for a new class is the instructor’s passion for teaching it. It is essential that the instructor is committed to sticking with the class for a full term—if the teacher cannot commit to teaching 90 percent of the classes for the first six months, you risk losing the momentum that is essential to establishing a new class.
When Should You Hold the Class?
The day and time you choose for your new class is another consideration. Trying to establish your new class at a less popular time might be slow going, but not ultimately a deal breaker. For instance, our studios offer classes at 4 pm on Saturdays, which works because no other studio in town has this option. Also, think about the logistics of subs when scheduling your new class. If you’re scheduling a class on the weekend or early mornings, will you have subs willing to show up for that class? In line with this thought, make sure you have enough teachers who are able to fill for the style of class offered. For instance, prenatal yoga is a specialized class that not all instructors feel comfortable subbing.
Set the stage for success by introducing the new class in every marketing avenue you have. Create an eye-catching flyer to post in your studio, announce the new class on Facebook, give the instructor free passes to hand out to interested students, and make the first class free. Offering a free introductory class separate from what is on the schedule can also pique interest. Lastly, ask other instructors, staff, and friends to help build interest by checking out the class and spreading the word if it’s something they enjoy.
As with any relevant decision you make within your studio, following up is the all-important final step. If you don’t follow up, you have no idea whether your efforts have been fruitful and if you should continue with the class. Keep your fingers on the pulse of the class by regularly reviewing attendance, asking for student feedback, and checking in with your instructors about how the class has been going. And the other instructors and staff you asked to try out the class? Ask them for feedback. They may be willing to provide critiques that can guide you to where improvements are needed.