August 2, 2014

What This Yoga Teacher Wants from a Yoga Studio Owner. ~ Jolie Carey


I have been to numerous studios over the years and have taught at a few places.

I admit I do not own a studio, but have reflected on whether studio ownership is in my future.  As a non-owner, these are a few things I have seen studio owners do well.

1. Involve and treat your teachers well. 

A lot of conversations between yoga teachers is similar to the water cooler conversations in an office: “can you believe he/she [boss/owner] didn’t inform us, ask us, include us, tell us about [insert topic]?”

Most teachers are not making a ton of cash from teaching.  As a teacher, I like to teach, I love the changes I see in students, I have an affinity for the studio and typically some loyalty to the owner.  However, this is easily eroded and called into question when the owner/boss (often unintentionally) does not sufficiently include me as one of the main investors of the studio in terms of decision-making.

The teachers are ultimately drawing in students and really have a “share” (think corporate stock) in whether the studio is working well.  To have this relationship undermined or not distinctly considered is wearing.  Usually it is over time, via unconscious choices.  It also results in feeling disrespected, which erodes a teacher’s commitment and loyalty to the studio, ultimately the owner and then the students.

Suggestion: meet with your teachers regularly as you would in any office job to gauge what makes them feel invested, committed and loyal to the business as a whole. 

2. Be an involved owner.

A well run business of any kind takes massive investment.  It is not easy.  I would like to personally celebrate all yoga studio owners who have embarked on this journey and commend their leap of faith and courage—it has allowed me to take note and learn more.

In my opinion, an absent studio owner means he/she is rarely around, unable to answer the hard questions, does not attend their teachers’ classes, does not properly advertise or promote their services, their teachers, or the studio sufficiently.  A lack of investment in anything shows.  It is seen in how students show up, how serious the schedule is adhered to and general commitment.

Not all yoga studios want to “create community”, but I have found the ones with greater owner investment have helped to create community, which builds on greater investment in the studio and creates more revenue.

Suggestion: Be present (when possible), greet students, attend classes and be appreciative/constructive to your largest asset—your teachers.

3. Release Ego, Be Collaborative.

Ego is not a sustainable approach or attitude for any kind of business owner—the emperor with no clothes will soon be discovered.  Additionally, no one does anything on their own.  Life is a collaborative effort, a meeting of minds, a support system that is grown.

A lack of collaboration can take many forms—one of the ways is how studios differentiate themselves and then try to ensure loyalty and block collaboration with other studios is based on the idea of market competition.  This is more ego than logical.  The yoga pie is not finite.  Money in this market continues to grow and the pie needs to be grown.

Yes, there are free classes offered around town so it can be challenging for studios to compete with this.  However, the more studios support each other and owners support and attend each other’s workshops and are involved in the survival of all, there will be greater community and loyalty to the macro interest which will inevitably be improved individual businesses.

Suggestion:  Check yourself as an owner.  It also means, know and own your worth as an individual and as a business.  Operate from this knowingness.  Embrace the principles you are teaching – operate from abundance.  Hoarding student loyalty and a mindset of lack in financial abundance is not constructive. 

4. Be professional.

Yes, there will be complaints, the trying students who feel like he/she isn’t getting what is fair, the teachers who are unreliable or don’t adhere to policies, bills fluctuating with seasons, landlord issues, etc.

Many studios started from passion for the practice and business acumen is learned along the way.  It is important to run a business with professionalism that has yoga at the heart of services.

Student and teacher loyalty ultimately come from a business owning its worth, treating customers (internally and externally) fairly, and realizing what they have to offer is of value, along with playing fair/collaboratively with others in the community.

Suggestion: ensure there is a review of the studio’s strengths and weaknesses as a business entity/provider in the community as you would have quarterly meetings in any other business.  There are likely gaps that could be improved instead of focusing on the daily costs to keep it running.  Invest in strong managers with great customer service skills.  Many yogis are already emotional individuals. 

Their concerns need to be met with professional managers, not managers who engage with them at their same level of emotion.  

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Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: kiwinky, Flickr Creative Commons

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