Tips for Successful Pilates Studio ownership

If you build it, they will come…well…not really. 
 Ada Wells, DPT, NCPT, and Polestar Educator in San Francisco Bay Area explains the finer points of business development and marketing in the Pilates industry.

You’ve got your Pilates teaching qualifications and certification. Check.
You’ve got a rockin’ studio to work in with amazing ambiance and apparatus. Check.
You’ve got a bit of a sporadic schedule that has you working from 6am to 8pm with 1-4 hour spaces strewn about the day…hmmm.  You’ve got monthly expenses to pay …uh-oh.

It takes more than a beautiful studio with matching décor and a hint of essential oils drifting in the background to attract clients. They need to know that you exist, but more importantly, you need to know who you want to attract. This not only matters to seasoned Pilates studio owners, but it also matters to new Pilates teachers or independent contractors trying to build a following.

The problem is that most businesses, Pilates studios included, go about it a bit backward. They talk all about how wonderful Pilates is, how wonderful their facility is, how it has the latest and greatest this or that, but, they miss out on what matters to their prospective clients…solving their problems. Talking about the history of Pilates on your home page may seem compelling because you find it interesting, but the average client didn’t click on your website or call up your studio for a history lesson…they clicked on your site to get a problem solved and they want to know if you’re the one to help them fix/solve it. You’ve got about a 3-5 second window to reach them before they’re off to the next site or if you’re talking to them on the phone or in person, to connect with what they’re looking for.

So…you may ask…how do you get their attention?

It starts by knowing exactly where you want to take your own business as your end goal. If you don’t know what that looks like, then how can you build it without going broke? That’s like me asking you where you want to travel, and you reply, “Africa.” Well, that’s a bit broad…it’s a pretty large and diverse continent. How can you properly and efficiently prepare to travel for that? You need to get specific on where you want to end up if you plan on getting to where you want to go, otherwise, it may end up being a long, drawn-out process that might be more stressful than rewarding. Your ultimate business goal will impact how you brand yourself and it is that branding that will attract the ideal customer for your business.

Speaking of that ideal customer, who IS your ideal customer?

If you try to talk to everybody and have a marketing message that pleases everybody, you’ll please no one. It’s better to get really clear here so that you can get to the bottom of what they want to be solved and you know that you’re attracting the type of person that you want to attract. People often comment on the amazing vibe I have in my studio…clients know each other and there’s positive energy. That’s on purpose. I don’t waste my energy on potential clients that will suck up mine. There is someone who will make that person happier, and I’m pleased to let them go and seek them out or even refer them out. That gives me the space to direct my energy on the people who I want to help the most and who I know I can make the greatest impact. People don’t care how many credentials you have on their own, but they do care that they have the tools and know-how to efficiently get their problem solved. Those credentials matter for that, but if you lead with your credentials and training and don’t communicate that you can help solve their problem, you may lose them before you started.

Is your business working from a place of service or survival?

There’s a huge difference between working from a state of service versus working from a state of survival. Ever try to buy a car at the end of the month when the salespeople need to make their quotas? How do you ultimately feel when you give in and buy a car? Is there that little feeling in your gut that the salesperson only cared about the sale instead of you. How good will you feel driving that car around with that in mind? You’ll probably never go there to buy a car again. The same goes for how you are showing up for your prospective (and existing clients) and employees for that matter. It’s a lot easier to attract and maintain those ideal clients when you’re in the right headspace so they can thrive. Knowing that you’re not desperate to get every client through your door will emit different energy, and you’ll find without more effort, you’ll be attracting exactly the tribe you want and they’ll be staying longer. It’s a lot less expensive to keep your fans happy than to find new ones.

So, what can you do RIGHT NOW to improve your own business?

1. Write out on a piece of paper what you want your dream business to look like.

Don’t worry about how you’ll get there, rather, focus on what it looks like. If you can nail that down, you’re going to get crystal clear. The how part is easy…that can be reverse engineered, but no one but yourself can articulate what will make you happy.

2. Who do you want to serve?

If you had the chance to dream up your ideal client, what does he/she look like? What does that person do for fun? What makes them happy? Where do they hang out? What do they spend their money on? What do they value? If you can get really clear on this part, you now have a greater ability to speak to them directly through your messaging in person, on your website, online, and even on the phone. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to attract that person, and the more effortless it will be to keep them as your client because everyone will be happy.

3. Do an audit of your own website, social media, print ads, etc to see if the messaging you’re putting out there is on the right track.

To do this, you’ve got to put yourself in the frame of mind of your ideal client. What would they think when they reached your website (or read your ad or heard your “elevator pitch”)? Would they be compelled to know more or would they just click on to the next thing? This will give you an immediate place to know where you can start making tweaks and start getting your ideal clients through the door.

These three little actions can be transformative for your business and enable you to live the life that you want. Remember, there is no such thing as a work-life balance…only life. Make your decisions accordingly.

Want to learn more? Check out these tips from the Pilates Method Alliance

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