Five Ways to Make a Student Friendly Studio
Being a studio owner or manager comes with countless daily duties, but regardless if you have a yoga studio, dance studio, pilates studio, gym or aerial arts studio, client happiness is the end goal. Everything can be run textbook correct, but a friendly environment and the relationships formed between instructors and students can be the deal breaker. Clients are already looking for the classes you offer, but they can choose from all the studios in your area offering the same classes. Setting yourself apart and retaining clients can come down to how welcome a new client feels in your studio. People want to find a place where they belong, they want a tribe that is like-minded and a studio where they can be their true self.
Train Instructors to Greet and Talk to Each Student.
New students want to feel welcome and want to be in an environment where they will not be judged. Train your instructors to greet and chat with each student. It could be asking her name, about her job, or how she found out about class. Spending thirty seconds getting a small amount of personal info makes the student feel welcome to the tribe and can also help the instructor remember the student in the future. This small conversation allows the students to ask questions, and express fears or excitement. This openness can also make long-time students talk to new students. Suddenly, you have a room of ambassadors who want to share experiences and assure a new student that everything will go well during her first class. I have had students help new students so quickly when they walked into class, I didn't have a chance to greet them first. Also don't forget about long-time students, keep learning about their lives too.
Train Instructors to be Role Models.
Obviously, avoid negative attitudes when hiring instructors. Choose personable leaders that understand that teaching is not about the instructor. So many instructors miss the boat, teaching a class is not your workout, teaching a class is about giving your knowledge and helping someone else with their workout. Great instructors understand they are the expert in a class and will explain new movement and encourage students on all levels. Students will feel accomplished and will want to come back to the class where they had success. A student should leave a class feeling better than when they arrived.
Break Up Cliques
Any studio or gym becomes a smaller community within a community and friendships form, but so do cliques. Long-time students all know each other and often look forward to hanging with their studio friends. If new students walk into a class and the other students are whispering in the corner or giggling about an insider joke, that new student immediately feel isolated. I can't tell you the number of studios in my travels where I have experienced this clique situation. Train instructors to spot this activity, and give them a few tools to help.
Breaking up Cliques
Move students to new locations for class. Say, “Just for today we are going to try a new place in class”
In Zumba, dance or step classes, rows can switch places between songs, cycling everyone through the room.
Try a partner exercise and select the partners, place new students with long-time students.
Think About Your Studio’s Interior Design and Feeling
Does your concept, design and portrayal of you studio fit with the local demographic. Having a gigantic half naked woman on the wall in a more conservative community may not fly well. Many people are still afraid of yoga, pole, weightlifting, aerial arts and even pilates. Kitschy hand painted trees or cutesy art, may end up looking more crafty then artistic. Keep design in alignment with your target demographic. Text on the walls, no matter how inspiring, will annoy a fair amount of people. I used to teach a senior fitness class at a large gym and during the yearly refresh, text of member's accomplishments and goals was painted on the back wall of the main fitness studio. The text faced straight into the front mirrors and was inverted. At my first class back after the refresh, several of the older students felt sick from moving and seeing the new text inverted and moving in the mirror. They stopped coming to class. Be conscience of interfering with your client’s workout. Think about smells, colors, temperature and lighting. All of these things can make students feel great or horrible.
Understand the Psychology of New Students
It takes guts to walk into a new class of any kind. Generally, a new student has been thinking about attending for weeks and even months. They have been to your website, talked to people who go and they finally worked themselves up to coming. This student may have fear, self doubt and feel insecure about attending your classes. Assure students that they have made the right choice to be at class. Make it clear that students can go at their own pace. Also make sure students know they will not be judged for their fitness level, lack of knowledge or new movement awkwardness. We all have been there. Listen to what your student has to say about their apprehensions. Listen to what students say after class, be open to feedback.