Embracing the Slump
What to do when your yoga or fitness studio slows down in the Summer?
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s sunny. It’s gorgeous. Your clients have taken their beach bodies to the water and your classes are feeling scarily spacious. Spaces once full of committed members and regulars are now peppered with confused tourists, one-off drop ins, and the much reviled, empty space.
It’s All About Attitude
Before you get panicked, take a moment and reset: This can be fantastic!
You may not immediately and emphatically agree, as you look down at your electric bill and try to reconcile the cost of trying to cool your studio for those three-person midday classes, but it is. You can make use of the down time to catch up on all the things that inevitably get pushed aside once things ramp up again, and to improve on everything you’ve done so far this year. If you’re not quite ready to get to sanding the hardwood, we also have some tips to get bodies on mats and in class during the slow season.
Don’t get caught up in the numbers, we can’t all be booked to the gills 365 days a year. If you allow yourself to look at the summer as time to catch up, freshen up, and set the slate clean for fall, it can be a lot of fun — seriously.
Focus on the Physical — The Studio
This is basic. But when was the last time you went through all your equipment and props? Have you been putting off re-grouting the locker rooms because you couldn’t find two days that wouldn’t eat into the monthly profits? Well, now’s the time. Chipping paint? Fix it. Weird smell in the back corner of the studio? Find it. If there is any work that means shutting your doors for a day, do it now. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”
- Bring in a contractor – Seize the opportunity to fix crumbling ceiling tiles, strumpy showers, or any other miscellaneous in–studio chores that might require a power tool.
- Move your fixtures – Grease those wheels on your retail fixtures and see how many dustball offerings are hiding under the shrine in the studio.
- Sale, Sale, Sale! – It’s time to clear out all the last hangaround items. Mark them down, clear them out and make space to replenish your retail with fresh new product.
Time For a Tune Up — Maintenance
No one wants to deal with discovering the ins and outs of a new machine peak season, or filling the studio with the ‘new mat smell’ in January when no one can crack a window. Now is the time, chickens. Here’s a list of items around the studio that should get a quick check up, and if necessary, update, during the summer:
- Props and Equipment – Switching out props during the summer lets your clients and staff get used to them outside of a sold–out class, and allows everyone a little more time to get used to the differences between old and new equipment.
- Water Filtration Systems – These should be checked regularly, not just when it’s slow, but absolutely make sure these get serviced during the summer.
- Mat Cleaners – If your studio has one of these machines, you know they can be finicky. Pick a slow morning and make sure it’s cleaned, oiled, and ready to tackle a thousand more rentals.
- Electronics – No one wants the speakers to blow in the middle of a sold out, late September DJ class. Make sure everything is in good working order, replace loose wires, and remind your staff how to use the power switch.
- Fixtures – Retail fixtures, even if they don’t move, still need an occasional check up. Make sure the wheels aren’t loose and the nails aren’t wiggling their way out the back.
- Fire Alarms – Press the angry button, change the batteries and it’s over.
Lights, Camera, Plank!
The sun is shining, the trees are lush and green, the studio is spacious — now is the time to book your shoot! Get your creative collateral in a row, book on a slow day, and make it mandatory. This way you can get everything you need, including:
- Teacher Headshots – By scheduling a shoot, you can make sure all of your teachers have similar shots, rather than having some in color, some in black and white, some hi-res, and some from their sister’s boyfriend’s old phone.
- Freshen Up Your Website – Get new banner images, new in-content shots, and pics to go alongside class and workshops descriptions.
- Social Media – Ideally, you are already constantly snapping away, getting shots in class, around the studio, and of the space. But it never hurts to restock your backlog of photos for social media with sleek, professional photos. Trust me, you can never have enough photos for your social media marketing.
Invest in Your Money-Makers — Staff Enrichment
While teachers may come and go, they are still an essential part of the fabric of your studio.
Unless you’re teaching every class yourself or you are operating under a script-based model that doesn’t allow for an nfusion of personality and individual expertise, your teachers are a huge part of what makes your studio what it is. By investing in staff education and enrichment, you’re not only showing them that you care and that you want them to succeed, but you’re ensuring that you have a knowledgeable, expert team.
- Workshops! – We’ve lauded the benefits of Summer workshops in our previous blogs, but bringing in guest presenters is also great for your teachers. Is there someone you’d like your staff to learn from? Get them in. Encourage your teachers to join. Give a couple spots away to them gratis if you need to.
- Staff Meetings! – Get everyone on the same page. Meetings with the whole team can be difficult to organize, but they are a must, even if you can only squeeze them in every 6 months. Slow days are the easiest to sacrifice. If you’ve had a hard time getting everyone in for staff meeting or team training, and the only way to get everyone in at the same time is cancel an early morning class on the weekend, or midweek, do it now while it’s slow. Make it mandatory. Just make sure you give students more than a week’s notice on the schedule for the one time cancellation.
- Certifications! – It’s time to start gearing up for Back-To-School rush, you want to do it with everyone on the same page. Does everyone need a CPR or or CE credits to stay current? Get it done and out of the way.
Revamp the Schedule
Look at what, or sometimes who, can be let go, added, and shifted around.
It can take weeks — sometime months — to really build up a new class. Making tweaks to the schedule during the summer will be less devastating to regulars, who will probably be attending class less often. By taking care of schedule shifts and experiments now, you can work out the kinks and set your Fall up for success as your regulars return full force.
Re-evaluate Your Classes
Most studios change their schedules seasonally, but are you really making changes, or just shifting things around? Really look at what you have. Summer can be a great time to let your teachers step outside the box, and to see what people might not miss.
- Test Out New Class Styles – Have your students been yearning for Yin? Budokon? Now is the time to see what your students react to! Experiment with ‘Summer Series’ on the schedule — if they do well, they can earn that slot permanently.
- Trial New Time Slots – Is there room for growth in your schedule? Let your staff know that you’re looking to add to the schedule, see who has ideas for new classes, and who you think your students want to see more of.
- Check Out the Competition – Investigate what classes are all over other area schedules, and what aren’t. Maybe there's an opening in the market that one of your teachers could fill?
Because it does take time to build a new class, you won’t be able to rely on numbers right away. Instead, you’ll need to ask for feedback from students and your teachers. No one wants to try and convince people to come to a new class during peak season, but teachers willing to promote the hell out of a new class and get students in during the summer are worth their weight in chia seeds.
Assess Your Staff
Sadly, this isn’t really a task you can delegate. Staffing is everything, and now is the time to look at what works, who doesn’t, and make the necessary changes to keep everyone afloat.
Now might be the time to look back to the subs. If someone hasn’t been pulling their weight, the slow season is a gentler place to take someone off the schedule. It can also be a good time to get through the hiring process, which can be a serious investment in time.
- Time for Fresh Blood! – Unless you’ve bagged a local celebrity teacher with Instagram worshippers in the tens of thousands, it will take a while to build a following in your studio. Give them the summer to warm up, get cozy, and win over a few students who can sing their praises once the rest of the regulars are back on their mats.
- The Sub List – Is there someone on there who is ready for a regular class? Or are there teachers who’ve been taking advantage, and subbing out their classes too much?
- Hourly Staffing Changeover – Front desk, work studies, cleaners, if you need to make a change or fill a slot, do it now. Scheduling those awkward first few training shifts while it’s slightly slower is actually a luxury, and will give newbies an opportunity to ease into the madness.
We hope this has given you some ideas for using the slowdown to your advantage! We’ll have a few more blogs with more tips, tricks, and ideas up our sleeves so you can stay busy and make the most of your slow season. Stay tuned!