In keeping with the title of “insanely easy” I want to keep this information short and sweet. And not overwhelm you with too much all at once.Now let’s get to it.There’s one goal every business has in common: to make a profit. A Pilates studio is no different. After all, money keeps the business afloat, pays the bills, allows you to take home a paycheck, and most importantly allows you to keep doing what you love — teaching Pilates.Whether you own a studio or work for one, it’s critical you do what you can to increase your class numbers.
A starting goal would be to try to fill at least 65% of available class spots. Finding your ideal utilization rate is important for setting growth goals and managing budgets. Some days and weeks there will be a higher attendance rate, others lower. However, a good place to start is with 65% of the entire studio's available spots utilized. The 65% average utilized might not work for your studio so it's important to figure out what will work for your business (or ask your manager).To figure out where you stand, take a sample size of 4 or more classes in one week. Total the number of available spots, total the number of utilized spots. Divide the utilized spots by total available, multiply by 10 to get your percentage.If you are only at about 30% utilization, you have some work to do.
Here are some insanely easy strategies to achieve your growth goal.
There’s one variable that you need to determine: your audience.You’re an individual with a unique teaching style. You may attract more older people, or more young people, people that want to move fast, people that want to be pushed. There's nothing wrong with you if only one audience group wants to take your class. You just need to embrace it and target that group (over time you can learn to broaden your appeal to other audience groups).By identifying and understanding your ideal audience you begin to create a niche for your teaching and your class.Begin by looking at your regular clientele. The regulars will give you some indication as to the kind of person you will most likely appeal too. As much as possible use data not guesswork. If your scheduling software offers reports and class stats, start there. Then ask a trusted mentor or fellow teacher to attend your class and help narrow down your target audience.Once you have a better idea of the kind of person most likely to attend your class, you can better target them with appropriate messaging. It goes without saying that if you discover your audience is mostly Millennials, your messaging would be different than if it were Baby Boomers. By messaging I mean everything from the kinds of cues you use to the marketing materials to the naming of exercises and classes.
First you need to know what the client wants from Pilates class. How do you find out? Simple, just ask them (check out this recent post for more on the benefits of Just Asking Questions). At the beginning of every class ask, “Do you have any specific areas you want to focus on today?”Now, give the people what they want: specifically what they want. People will come back if they perceive that you’re giving them what they want. So, give it to them.And, you’ll need to make sure they know you’re doing it. I’ve coached many excellent teachers that do an amazing job programming for individual client goal. But the teacher simply neglects to tell the client how they’re addressing each of their goals. You must tell them. It’s really that simple.
During every exercise mention how you are giving them exactly what they asked for. If I’m working with a bride that is working on her arms, upper back and shoulder, I direct my cues towards those areas. For example, the Hundred is an abdominal exercise but I would be sure to cue the arms, big time. “Strong pump of the arms,” “Use your lats like Michael Phelps,” and so forth. They need to feel like you both heard their goal and are targeting it with every exercise.
Making genuine connections with people will make a huge difference with your class numbers. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you be fake or pretend. I mean make a real human to human connection.
I don’t know about you, but I partly got into teaching Pilates because I enjoyed helping people and connecting with them.
Try to relate to and understand each client. Learn something about their lives — know the names of their grandkids or that they’re an artist that works with their hands. Whatever you do to understand them, the more you connect and the better you will be able to teach them. On days when they think about not exercising the human bond you have created will hopefully get their butts in class.
Show up to class early so you can get to know some of your student’s names, goals, and connect outside of the class. Call them by name, remember what they’re working on, and so forth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken class at a studio for weeks in a row and no one bothers to speak to me or even know my name. After a few weeks of being anonymous I just stop going. After all if I wanted to be anonymous I wouldn’t choose such a personal form of exercise, I’d just run on a treadmill or something.
Getting to know your students will also encouraging them to know one another. When class regulars become friendly with one another it really can create a strong connection that everyone looks forward to from your class. Most people come to Pilates in part for the social aspect of group fitness. Working out with others make us more accountable for attending and is just plain fun.
And finally, make an effort to connect with them outside of class through social media or social events. Personally, I feel more comfortable encouraging clients to find me through social media then by saying something like, “Like us on facebook so you can hear about [fill in with your upcoming event, or promotion, or new class offering]. But giving them a reason to check you out on social media typically is more successful. Additionally, you could host an open house or happy hour class to get a chance to socialize with them.
I think as teachers we often forget that new clients may be nervous or self conscious about trying something new. They worry about fitting in and think everyone will be stronger, skinnier, or more coordinated. Welcome them into your class and help them to feel a little more comfortable. Think of them like your flock that you need to nurture and support. With new clients you need to take them under your wing so they can eventually fly.
After class, be available at the front desk for Q&A, scheduling, and saying “goodbye”. Instead of putting away props and wiping down equipment, standing by the front desk computer. As people are leaving ask, “How was class?” “Do you have any questions about our classes or packages?” “Do you want me to sign you up for next week?” “Can I help you purchase a package?” “Anything you want to work on next week?”
I bet you’ll be surprised how many more people do ask you to schedule them for next week. If clients are left to do it later, life gets busy, they forget, and quickly weeks have gone by.
Above were the first 5 out of 9 tips. Check out next weeks post for number 6-9.
Teaching is more than just sharing your knowledge of Pilates. It’s also about designing engaging learning experiences. Think of every class as an opportunity to actively engaging students.
Challenge them to make connections in their daily life.
As always, leave me a comment and let me know if you find this helpful.
Wish you lot’s of love and success!