By Shannon Brasovan, Two-Brain Yoga Business Mentor
The secret to making more money in your studio isn’t raising your rates or getting more clients.
It’s discipline, otherwise known in yoga as “tapas.”
While tapas is often defined as discipline, it means something deeper: “austerity” or “to burn something down to its purest form.” Discipline seems to be a dirty word in the yoga world—unless we are guiding clients to do one more boat pose. But it’s actually a prescription for how to live our lives and run our businesses.
When I hired my first teacher at Practice Indie in 2013, I was super worried about having the “money talk” with her. I was currently teaching 20 hours a week and barely paying myself. She was already teaching all around town, making bank—I projected—at every other studio. I was worried that she wouldn’t make enough with us and would tell all the other studios how pathetic our pay structure was.
But I told her, “I’ll start you off at $20 an hour no matter how many clients you get in the room. I’ll pay a separate hourly rate for checking students in and studio clean-up, and for every teacher training you lead or private client you teach, you’ll get 44 percent of the profit.”
“Deal,” she said without hesitation.
Only later did I realize that my rules had solved some huge problems for her:
- She hated asking people for money, so she often wound up “volunteering” her time.
- Her privates tended to be for trade and were very rarely paid for.
- She had to aggressively “recruit” her own students for teacher trainings but did not benefit when larger numbers of students joined.
- She did a lot of free labor at other studios. Her time before and after class—checking students in, cleaning up, etc.—was never paid. And it was always expected, even if it added an hour or more to her time there.
- At other studios she had to fight for time slots. She knew if she taught at 5 p.m. she was much more likely to make more because more students showed up. In less popular time slots, she sometimes wasn’t paid at all if no one showed up.
- She no longer had to guess at what she was making each month. With a base hourly rate for classes, she could commit consistently to classes (and was eager to take on more) because she could confidently project her monthly pay.
Under my rules—my imposed discipline—she’d make way more money with much less stress and frustration.
6 Reasons You Aren’t Making Bank
Studio owners don’t make more money for six reasons. When you fix these issues with discipline, your studio will be more successful.
They don’t pay themselves first. Have the discipline to write yourself a check. You can hack this process by using a system like Profit First. Just think of this like putting your oxygen mask on first!
They don’t make enough money per client. Have the discipline to set your rates appropriately and stick to them. Everyone knows that discounts don’t attract clients. But most of us have offered discounts (new-member special, anyone?) because we don’t have the discipline to stick to our rates. Usually, this is a mental problem, not a demographic one.
They don’t keep clients long enough. Have the discipline to maintain an excellent experience. You build excellence on a foundation of consistency. The rules must apply to everyone equally.
For example, we used to call every class “yoga,” but students wanted to know what to expect in a class. My ego responded: “When you’re here, you get yoga.” I was too naive and young to realize that different people need different styles, and they have expectations about what’s offered. Luckily, my clients provided enough feedback and I changed my ways. I instantly saw more consistency in practice and fewer frustrated students.
I also see often that many studios allow their teachers to instruct classes according to their personal interpretation of a certain style of yoga. They ignore what the business has promised and what the clients expect.
Repeat after me “met expectations equal happiness.” Set clear expectations for what clients can expect every time, whether it’s style, punctuality, etc. Consistency is key in both our yoga practice and in our business. Have the discipline to be consistent.
Their expenses are too high. Have the discipline to rent only the space you need and buy only the props you need. Have the discipline to do the math and make a plan instead of buying the biggest toy box and trying to fill it.
They don’t have enough clients. Have the discipline to make a marketing plan, track your marketing metrics and determine what’s actually working instead of just firing random shots at your market. Videos of you doing handstands are not a marketing plan.
They wear the wrong hats. Have the discipline to learn how to grow your business instead of just punching the clock and hoping for the best.
The Fix: Discipline
It isn’t easy to fix any of these problems—but everything gets easier with practice. We’re in the habit-formation game, right? We teach tapas and habits and consistent practice for a living. Maybe it’s time to take our own advice.
Enforcing discipline in yourself is hard. Having a coach or mentor makes it easier.
Enforcing discipline in your staff is really hard. But you usually only have to do it once. When others see that you’re going to stick by your published rules instead of running your business on your fluctuating emotions, they’ll come in line—and you’ll have the freedom to help them instead of just cleaning up their messes.
Remember: Tapas really means to burn something down to its purest form. If you want to offer the best yoga you possibly can, get rid of all the things that hold you back from your best. Discipline is not a dirty word, it’s a mindful way to structure your practice, your life and your business so you can make a difference in the world.