a management revolution for yoga studio owners
There’s no question that yoga has established itself as much more than a passing fitness fad in the United States and, in fact, all over the world. Yoga’s proliferation from its Indian roots has spawned a multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry in this country alone that shows no signs of waning. One byproduct of the yoga industry’s growth has been an explosion of peripheral industries that have emerged to support the needs of a growing community of yoga entrepreneurs. We now see things like yoga business coaches, yoga retreat planners, and, perhaps most notably, yoga studio management software.
Fewer than ten years ago, there was no such thing as a software package specifically designed for the needs of yoga studios. But the meteoric rise in the number of yoga studios across the U.S. with a constantly growing clientele, coupled with equally rapid advances in computer and internet technology, have resulted in a new breed of management support that is tailor made for a yoga studio’s needs while staying in step with the latest technological opportunities available to the yoga entrepreneur.
A perusal of some of the leading companies that offer this new breed of software solutions yields a rather unusual assortment of names, including Wellworks, Mindbodyonlne, Dharma Tribe, Pranastudio, Yogasoft, and Yogareg. But these names, though perhaps mystifying to the layperson, represent more than the use of yogic catch phrases to identify a trendy product. They represent a desire on the part of these companies not only to make money but to infuse the industry they serve with the essence of the yogic principles for which they are named.
The majority of these companies were inspired and founded by individuals who were seeking solutions to the difficulties they themselves faced as yoga studio owners and managers.Stuart Hanna, the developer and owner of Dharma Tribe, one of the leading management software solutions, is also the owner of Mission Street Yoga in South Pasadena, California. His experience as a studio owner informs the ongoing development of Dharma Tribe’s products.
“We own and operate a studio enterprise that offers classes, workshops, courses and private sessions,” said Hanna. “Because we want to manage our own enterprises in the best and most efficient way, we are constantly updating our product from the studio owner’s perspective. When a student walks through the door and presents us with a scenario we had not previously encountered, our programmers immediately go to work to create processes in the software to address it.” This ability to be dialed in to the ever changing and developing needs of yoga studios allows Hanna and his other industry peers to serve their clients with unprecedented speed and insight.
The personal industry experience of the people behind these companies allows them to create an unusual bond with their customers and provide a level of service that is uncommon in the often oversized and impersonal world of computer software. John Meyer, director of marketing for Wellworks, another leader in studio management software, explains how their employees’ personal experiences on both sides of the industry allow them to better serve their clients. “Customer service and our employees’ experience set Wellworks apart from others in the marketplace”¦The Wellworks training team has over 20 combined years of hands-on experience using Wellworks and all of our trainers have used Wellworks in a studio they have owned or managed.” Individualized experience of this type provides these software companies with a working knowledge of the challenges faced by their clients and greatly increases the potential benefits of each client interaction.
In essence, the art of teaching yoga centers on interaction between people. What many studio owners are finding beneficial about these software solutions is the time they afford them to better focus on their clients. As Rick Stollmeyer points out, “With the administrative details handled before clients walk in the door, studio owners, managers, staff and teachers can all focus their complete attention on them, not on a computer screen or paper accounting system.” The way yoga practitioners feel in a studio plays a huge part in keeping their loyalty and their business. The level of professionalism they encounter and the amount of attention they receive in a given studio will often have a great impact on their desire to practice there. This is perhaps the greatest benefit these software solutions have to offer.
Interestingly, in some areas, the word has yet to spread and many studio owners are still unaware of the potential benefits of these systems. Whether because of outdated perceptions of prohibitive costs or simple ignorance, there are still many studio owners who are struggling to get by with antiquated and inefficient systems. According to John Meyer, “After more than three years on the market with Wellworks, our biggest competitor is still pen and paper.”
When company leaders were asked why they took it upon themselves to fill the need for this type of software in the marketplace, there was a strong consensus that a great source of inspiration behind their work is to support the continued availability of yoga’s powerful benefits to everyone. As Rick Stollmeyer, CEO and founder of MindBody Online, a pioneer in the studio management software industry and producer of Om Soft, points out, “Yoga studios foster close, ongoing relationships with their clients. They need to track myriad information streams to manage those relationships and the transactional aspects of their business at the same time. This can become a huge distraction for studio owners, overwhelming them with”¯repetitive tasks and preventing them from moving their businesses”¯forward. Studio management software frees studio owners and allows them to focus more energy on their practice and their”¯students.”
John Meyer of Wellworks echoes this sentiment. “The main obstacle Wellworks can help overcome is having to close the doors of a studio. Many people love teaching yoga, pilates, and other wellness practices. So they open a studio but then get overwhelmed with the business end of things. A successful studio needs to understand how the business is doing on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis”¦When you have all of this information it can mean the difference between a thriving studio and a closed business.”
By supporting the success of their clients, the producers of these software solutions are maintaining a symbiotic relationship, with the main benefit being the accessibility of yoga and its powerful transformative tools to millions of people across the country and around the world.
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