As we collectively peek through our fingers at the world beyond a pandemic, you might be starting to think about long-term growth for your business, and what that could look like as the world shifts back to in-person connection.
The world has changed, and if you read our recent article on emerging trends in yoga and wellness, you’ll know that your business can evolve with those changes too.
If you are a yoga teacher who has worked hard to connect with your clients and build your own business when studios were forced to close, you might be wondering if a return to teaching for a studio is right for you. Or perhaps you might be ready to invest in a studio space that could serve your local yoga community.
As we BETA test our studio software with members in our OfferingTree community, we’ve been hearing about studio alternatives more and more, so we wanted to take a deeper look at ways that the yoga studio model might evolve.
Why the Traditional Yoga Studio Model is Problematic
When we think about a yoga or fitness studio, generally we think of a business that is owned by a single owner or a larger chain that hires instructors to lead classes and pays a flat rate for teaching. The flat rate could be per class, or per participant, but nonetheless, it favours the profits of the studio because the studio needs revenue to survive.
Instructors might be incentivized to market and grow their classes but ultimately the studio generally has control over the client’s contact details and the instructor might even be contractually prohibited from collecting contact information. Contracts are generally set up to protect the studio’s interests and business, sometimes including a non-compete clause to restrict teachers from working for another studio within a certain radius.
The reasons this model of a studio is problematic are multiple:
- Competition with other studios creates a need for cheaper, flexible (drop-in) classes and passes means studios generally need to charge less per class – and pay less to teachers.
- Studios need to maximize capacity in their rooms to make the most revenue.
- Studios need to cover all the operating and staffing overhead costs.
- Merchandise, workshops and teacher trainings are necessary to supplement income.
- Studios often also rent their space for extra income.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many yoga studios had to close in-person classes and shift to an online model. YogaWorks was one of the biggest names to succumb to the pandemic, closing all of their brick and mortar spaces permanently. In their statement to members at the time, they said:
“This pandemic has brought the yoga and fitness industry to its knees—a practice that thrives on community, togetherness, and, ultimately, revenue to survive.” YogaWorks
And now as we move toward in-person classes again, there is an opportunity to look at different types of studio models. Models that are perhaps more sustainable, equitable, and that better support the income of yoga teachers. Let’s take a look.
Collective Studio Model
A collective studio model is a great concept and one we first heard about in detail on this episode of The Connected Yoga Teacher podcast. This model, as the name suggests, relies on forming a collective of like-minded professionals to work together as a management team, in your own space. There is a lot of importance placed on communication, and co-working to support the business, so a collective needs some advanced leg work to decide upon workload distribution.
However, as a multiple-owner yoga studio model, it can be a wonderful solution to reduce the financial burden of the business and to spread out the work, as well as draw in a wider audience with each different member of the collective working to promote it to their own community. Here is how this model could work:
- Bring together a group of like-minded people to collectively lease or sub-lease a space a space
- Agree on a division of responsibilities, how to make decisions, set up a bank account to run finances through, choose and design the space.
- Find the right space – this could be sublet from another business or a dedicated space for the collective.
- Depending on the agreement of the collective, each person could either run their own business from the collective space or the collective is one business and each member pitches in to help with the tasks.
- Each member of the collective has allocated timeslots to teach and run their programs.
- Timeslots, when the space is not in use, can be subleased to other instructors.
- Everyone keeps their own profits after overheads are covered.
The benefits of the collective model are multiple:
- Splitting the management tasks – admin, marketing, finances – reduces the burden on one person and distributes the workload.
- This also means that members can gravitate to the tasks that they are better at.
- Each member of the collective earns their own income after overheads are paid out – better income for the instructor, and more input from them to earn it.
- Members have an incentive to keep classes busy and to nurture their own clients.
- The members of the collective bring in their own communities to form one larger community, so the studio has a strong client base from the start.
- It’s a win for the clients, who can continue to practice with their favourite instructor and with like-minded instructors in the collective.
The risks of a collective are mostly around the member’s interactions and goal setting. To be successful, the collective needs to have open lines of communication, a business plan, an agreed growth plan and an exit strategy both for individual members and the collective as a whole. Each member may be required to commit some finances to the project in the beginning, and it’s wise to draw up some legal agreement on how the collective will work, and how the profits will be distributed.
Rental Studio Model
Another alternative is a rental studio model and we have seen more of this type of business pop up in the last few years. This might be a multi-purpose studio space that is available to rent hourly or daily to various practitioners, such as a large studio room that is used for dance, martial arts, photography, movement modalities and more.
With more teachers looking for their own spaces to teach in-person sessions, this type of space will likely grow in popularity over the next couple of years. The idea of short-term rental means lower risk for the instructors, who can lease the space for their classes and grow their business, at a time when things might still seem a little uncertain.
Let’s imagine you wanted to open a space like this. Here is an outline of how it might look:
- Rent a space – either in its entirety or sublease space from another business, such as a dance studio or martial arts business that uses the space only at certain times of the week.
- Sub-let the space to other users during times you are not using it, with contracts in place. The legalities and contracts would need some research – likely each subleaser will need their own liability insurance, pay a damage deposit and have flexible access requirements as well as bear responsibility for cleaning up after use.
- Rent it out as much as possible to other users to maximize revenue.
- Renters do their part to set up, take down and clean after use which saves you from having to manage every single use of the space.
The benefits of this type of model are that there is less of a burden to the owner of the business to market every offering, hire staff, build the entire community, as well as manage the space. The costs are shared and with the right renters, you can maximize the use of the space and the income.
Have you worked as part of a collective? Perhaps you have seen another studio model succeed? We would love to hear about it, drop us a comment below this blog post to let us know.
OfferingTree is a yoga software that can service independent yoga teachers, as well as yoga studios. With features such as multi-teacher login, email marketing, scheduling, memberships, on-demand library and more, we can help you keep your yoga business running online, in-person, or a mixture of both. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at OfferingTree to connect with us and learn more.