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Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in Business & Education, Featured | 0 comments

The Business Side of Teaching Pilates

The Business Side of Teaching Pilates

Choosing where to study Pilates as an apprentice can be tough. Many consider location, costs, equipment, exercises and Teacher Trainer. What about business skills taught? Did you know what to do to build your business after your apprenticeship?

As you read in our previous article “The Pilates Apprentice Story” each apprentice chose their programs based on the best mentors and learning the technique. All of them are well on their way towards rocking their Pilates teaching dreams. But, what happens after the apprentice hours are completed? Where do they find their clients? How do they fill a schedule and build their own Pilates business? Most programs still do not teach the business side of Pilates. Focusing mostly on teaching students the exercises and history of Pilates. Of course, this is important. In fact, teachers will never stop learning the in’s and out’s of Pilates. But, what about the business side? Can we do more for apprentices, so they come off the ground running? Gina and I believe so!

This follow-up is geared to help teachers, teacher trainers, and apprentices focus on five areas to take with them and hit the Pilates reformer, Cadillac and mat running! Aside from a website try these tips and make the business side of Pilates, your friend:

1. Focus on what’s in front of you: To be successful as a Pilates instructor you do not have to advertise to everyone. You just need to connect to those in your area, and specifically with those that want the depth and breadth of the method. You only need to speak to 20 – 30 people. Plan to use simple, local marketing programs; e.g., pin specially designed postcards for group mat classes on the bulletin boards in nail salons and coffee shops.  Set up a FREE Google Local business page to your location. Build a local community mat class that meets regularly; collaborate with another small business to co-promote a community health & fitness workshop; write a article or two for a local paper or community business journal. Before buying Google AdWords or even Facebook ads take some stock. You don’t need a national audience to see you! Buy targeted space in your local area and minimize your cost and maximize the effectiveness. Then focus on teaching the one or two clients in front of you. Make their bodies feel and show the benefits of Pilates by training with YOU! They will soon become be the walking billboards you need in your community and more friends, and friends of friends will seek you out. Do not hesitate to ask for their feedback as a testimonial to their experience. Word of mouth stories will go a long way in helping others find the path to you.

2. Knowing when to say Yes and when to say No: In the beginning,it is easy to say “yes” to everyone who asks for a session and at any time. Why? Because saying “no” often means saying no to money. The money you want and need. You are the instructor. You have all the power. First, know when you are available to work. You may think you have plenty of time to teach. You are new and building your business, but you are not available anytime. What would a full schedule for you look like? Ask yourself, when do I feel at my best? When am I taking my Pilates sessions? Build a work schedule and then only offer those times. Stick to it! There is an attraction to the “busy restaurant.” People will wait hours to get into the restaurant with a line out the door even if the one next door is empty. If someone asks for a time, you are not available say “I am not available then. I have this time or this time, which works best for you?” If none work then you’ll have to say no but I bet the next time they’ll work Pilates with you into their schedule first!

Angela Paul-Gaito, who runs a studio in Newburgh, NY, commented in our “The Pilates Apprentice Story” interview, that she learned the hard way, that saying “yes” too often, perhaps being too lenient, too timid with goal of “wooing” clients and building relationships actually made it harder in the long run. She realised that she needed to keep a focus on my own limits in the relationship and transaction. She needed to stop trying to be a friend and work toward being their teacher.

3.  Know what the clients ‘Why’ is? Why is the client coming to Pilates? What brought them to you and Pilates? They are not going to learn all there is to know about Pilates in that first session. Take the pressure off yourself and spend your time showing them how Pilates with YOU will help them hit their WHY. I know their body has more needs than that why but if you don’t get them to come back in you’ll never get to help them with their bodies needs. Allow them to feel what Pilates with you is. Their first package with you is them buying time with you. They felt enough trust with you to help them attain their Why.

4. Choose the best option for you: As a Pilates instructor, you have multiple options to choose from when it comes to where you teach. You can rent space, work for a studio or fitness facility, work for yourself and go to clients homes. You may feel the urge to choose one or a few of these options at once. We recommend you choose the option that works best for you and your work style. In a Profitable Pilates post “To Own or To Rent,” I suggest you ask fellow teachers what the positives and negatives are. What work best for them and why? If you dream of having a studio of your OWN one day, find a space that allows you to build your own business and following. Prefer to show up, teach and leave? Perhaps working in a studio is a better option for you. There is an advantage to being your own boss and calling your own shots and wearing all the hats. Do you know yourself enough to know which option works best for you?

5.  Online options: A website is important. It’s a crucial calling card in the digital marketplace. For more on why websites are important, take a look these tips from web developers. If you cannot afford one, in the beginning, don’t worry. You can purchase the domain today so that when you are ready, your ideal website URL is available. Start a Facebook page or Instagram page. These do not replace a website, but they do help people find you and see who you are, what you do and what you stand for as a Pilates Instructor. Yelp and Citysearch as well as other review sites are great options as profiles on these sites are often free. A website is an assistant that works for you 24/7 so get one sooner than later! In the meantime use the free options you have and then don’t be afraid to ditch the world wide web in exchange for good old fashion in person connection. Hang out at the cafe by your studio and introduce yourself to people. Your future clients are all around!

We cannot express how important it is that you do not avoid the business side of teaching. You got into teaching Pilates because of your passion for the method. For you to share that passion for Pilates, you will have to master the business. Start with these five tips and see how they help you fill your dream schedule with dream clients!

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Co-Authors & Collaborators Gina and Lesley found each other via social media and their common love of connection, Pilates and blogging.

Lesley Logan, a PMA Certifed Master Pilates Instructor and has been studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively. She has also been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and recently was admitted into “The Work,” a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates elders, Jay Grimes. Maintaining that

Pilates is a unique practice that is good for every body, Lesley tailors the method for each individual client. Connect with Lesley via http://www.proftablepilates.com.

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Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Business & Education, Dana Auriemma, Media | 0 comments

How To Make Great Client Recommendations

How To Make Great Client Recommendations

Published on 18 Mar 2015

Visit www.danaauriemma.com for more articles, advice, and training.
Sign-up for email-exclusive articles (1-2x month) that will help you and your studio grow: bit.ly/danasignup.

“Dana I love your articles! The topics you address are always completely relevant to where I am in my business development. Your insight and suggestions are really helpful. Thank you for giving so much back!!!” – Kim B. (St. Louis, MO)

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Posted by on Oct 29, 2013 in Business & Education, Dana Auriemma, Freelance, Owning a Studio | 0 comments

An Instructor Guide To Social Media Marketing

An Instructor Guide To Social Media Marketing

Madonna once told us we’re living in a material world. Now almost 30 years later, I have to say I think we’re living in a social-media world! And thanks to businesses, social media sites now offer much more than status updates from friends. Businesses everywhere offer the public a daily dose of education, inspiration and information through social media – and fitness studios are no exception.

But what’s most interesting about fitness studios when it comes to social media is this:

In the fitness industry, instructors become the product that clients purchase. It is the instructors’ expertise, skills and service that clients come to love. And as a result, clients develop great relationships with their instructors. These instructors are on the “front line” at the studio, inspiring and helping clients on a daily basis. Therefore, they should do the same online!

Instructors can help build interest and attendance for their classes and their studio by actively contributing to a studio’s social media presence. With the right kind of social media posts, instructors can:

Entice potential clients to come try out the studio (showing a fun environment with great workouts).

Help more clients get to know them and want to take class from them.

Encourage current clients to stay consistent with their workouts and/or increase their attendance, try more classes or attend special events.

What exactly can instructors do on their social media sites to help market themselves and their studio? Here is a guide that will help:

On An Instructor’s Personal Page:

Share personal updates on their teaching or education 

EXAMPLE: “Looking forward to a full schedule of teaching tonight at [studio name/link]. Hope my students are ready for a killer class!”

EXAMPLE: “Anatomy workshop in the city this weekend with [teacher name]. Can’t wait…she/he’s supposed to be amazing.”

Share studio news, events and offers

EXAMPLE: “For anyone interested, my studio [name/link] is offering a beginner workshop next Saturday, no experience required! [link to website flyer]”

EXAMPLE: “My studio [name/link] is having a fundraiser next month for [organization name]. Here is the information, hope you can join us for this great cause!”

Share a little fitness education, inspiration or personal reflection

EXAMPLE: “I’m always talking to my clients about good posture! [link to article] Just had to share.”

EXAMPLE: “Found an old manual from my first teacher-training workshop 3 years ago. Wow, time flies. Still can’t believe how lucky I am that this is my job [photo of studio, manual, etc.].”

And update their profile with work information (studio name and position)

Personal page posts can be casual, occasional and simply driven by the instructor’s genuine passion for their teaching. Instructors are role models and a gateway to fitness for their friends, family and community. By sharing a little bit about their work on personal social media pages, instructors are promoting their classes and studio…but also showing they are an accessible resource to anyone who has questions about fitness or looking to start a new workout.

On The Studio’s Business Page:

Instructors can and should post on their studio’s business page (as themselves) to communicate with their clients. In seeing these posts, clients will begin to more actively visit the studio page to read and respond to messages from instructors. This will not only help class attendance grow, but also build a stronger and more loyal client community.

Compliment students after class (be specific)

EXAMPLE: “My 9AM students were amazing this morning! I can’t believe how much progress you’re all making on the [exercise example].”

EXAMPLE: “So many laughs in class today. You guys were so much fun to teach!”

EXAMPLE: “Who loved the crazy leg series tonight? You’ll thank me tomorrow!”

Preview and promote upcoming classes

EXAMPLE: “So excited to teach tomorrow night! I’ve got a fun new ab series I can’t wait to show you.”

EXAMPLE: “My new Pilates 101 class starts next week. If you are new to the studio, this is a great way to start. I hope to meet you soon!”

Provide general encouragement and inspiration

EXAMPLE: “The holidays are just around the corner but I know that won’t deter my dedicated students from coming to class. You guys are inspiring! Keep it up.”

EXAMPLE: “A saw this article yesterday about using exercise to manage stress [link]. Come join me for class tomorrow morning and soothe whatever stressors you’ve got going on this week.”

Endorse studio events, classes or instructors

EXAMPLE: “Looking forward to the foam roller workshop next week. Hope to see you there…your hard-working muscles will thank you for the massage!”

EXAMPLE: “I hopped into Sarah’s yoga class last night and I’m feeling amazing today! What a treat. If you haven’t tried class with her yet, you definitely should. Thanks Sarah!”

Now that you have plenty of examples, go have fun with it! If you’re a studio owner, share this with your instructors. Get your clients connecting with you on social sites a little more when they’re away from the studio…and you’ll get them coming into the studio more for years to come!

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Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Becoming a Teacher, Business & Education, Dana Auriemma, Featured, Freelance, Owning a Studio, Pilates | 0 comments

Letting Clients Go With Grace

Letting Clients Go With Grace

Every so often it happens.  A client finishes their session and as they get ready to leave, you give a little reminder that it’s time to purchase or schedule their next package. But instead of their usual enthusiastic response, there is a quiet pause followed by an awkward mumble that they need to stop their sessions because [fill in the blank with a reason].

What do you say?
How you respond is important.

I’ve seen responses range from apathetic and dismissive to annoyed and judgmental. I’ve also seen studios give high-pressure sales pitches to stay or talk about consequences the client will experience by leaving!

These negative approaches are not only unprofessional and discourteous, they are damaging to the studio’s reputation.

But when you let clients go gracefully and graciously, they leave feeling positive about their experience with you and comfortable to return or recommend you to others. So what do you say and do to make sure this happens?

    • Listen and give a reassuring smile to put them at ease and show that you care. Telling you they need to stop is uncomfortable for them. They no doubt respect and enjoy your services and don’t want to offend or upset you. They are also probably anxious that you are going to pressure them to stay so if you show sympathy and understanding, they will really appreciate it.
    • Show interest in any feedback or comments

that pertain to you or your studio. Indicate that you will look into any negative issues (if relevant) or potentially make changes in the future to address their needs (i.e. more availability at their desired time, more lower-priced classes if their budget is tight, different workouts if they are looking for other benefits, workshops to help with special needs etc.)

  • Do not contest their reason for stopping or pressure them to stay.Simply put, it won’t work. First of all, keep in mind their reason for stopping may not be true. Why would they tell a white lie? Because the real reason is too personal or uncomfortable to tell you. Second, by the time they tell you they’re stopping, they’ve put a lot of thought into the decision and their mind is made up. So pressuring them to stay makes them uncomfortable and anxious to be done with you. They will not likely want to return and won’t speak highly of such a pushy place to their friends.
  • Show your appreciation for their business. Thank them, tell them how much you enjoyed having them at the studio and that they are welcome to return any time. Offer tips on exercises they can do at-home so they can stay healthy and fit whether they are your client or not!
  • Remind them to stay connected to the studio for news, updates or future incentives that they may be interested in (relevant to their reason for stopping). Confirm that they are receiving your newsletter, reading your blog and/or connected on social media.
  • Stay in touch! Depending on your studio size and relationship with your clients, develop a follow-up plan to keep in touch and make it easy for them to return. Check for lapsed clients once a month and add their names to a list along with the date of a “we miss you” card, email or phone call so you can keep track. (Always send at least one handwritten card.) First contact them 1-2 months after their last session and then decide how many more times and how frequently you want to reach out depending on the client’s personality, length of time at the studio and reason for leaving. And make sure it’s a no-pressure check-in. Just let them know that they are missed, you hope they are doing well and hope to see them again.
  • Bonus suggestion: Utilise an online survey program and email a request for anonymous feedback. It is a great opportunity to get truly honest feedback, find opportunities to improve and minimise losing clients in the future. Plus they will appreciate having a confidential way to communicate any problems or frustrations they didn’t want to tell you in person.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to make sure the client leaves feeling respected and appreciated. This in turn will keep them respecting and appreciating your studio! A positive conversation will make them more likely to return and keep them speaking highly of your studio to others.

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