Aug 30, 2018

GoYoga Owner Alissa Rodgers Recounts her Journey to Owning a Thriving Family of 5 Studios

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Recently we spoke with Alissa Rodgers, owner of GoYoga studio in Columbus, OH about her business’s spectacular growth. What started off as a small project has turned into a thriving family of 5, soon to be 7, studios that generate more than a million dollars a year in revenue, all in just  8 years. Keep reading to learn Alissa's story and her advice for running a successful studio.

How did you get started with GoYoga?

I was previously a hospital consultant and used to travel and practice yoga all over the country in some really great studios. However, when I settled back into my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, I couldn’t find a place that had the welcoming and empowering experience I was looking for and I also noticed most studio memberships were very costly. From my travels, I knew there were better and more affordable ways to offer yoga. So one day I decided rather than complain or stay at studios I didn’t love, to be courageous and start my own yoga studio that provided the experience I felt was missing in the local market and at prices that the average person could afford.

GoYoga started off small and classes were taught in studio spaces rented by the hour. This allowed us to test ideas and keep overhead low. About six months into it, the business became big enough to open our own dedicated studio. From there we opened one studio a year for the next four years and this year we plan to open two more studios!

What is your average annual growth rate for revenue?

We began at under $100K a year and currently generate more than million dollars a year in revenue. We strive for 50% annual growth in the first two years at newer locations and 10-15% at older locations. Our oldest location of almost eight years has maintained its revenue target each year which is awesome and in large part due to the commitment, passion and longevity of our team there.

What do you think has enabled you to open more locations than most studio owners?

I had a clear vision for GoYoga from the beginning. I wanted to create a yoga experience that was accessible so that everyone who walks through our doors felt welcomed and at ease, whether they were completely new to yoga or an experienced practitioner.  My passion for giving people this experience, who might not otherwise have access to it, and ultimately to inspire people to be their best selves has opened doors and brought forth opportunities that have allowed us to continue to expand and grow. One other key to our growth is our membership base.  Through our monthly membership option we have created a way for people to affordably practice regularly and therefore enjoy the many amazing benefits of yoga. This in turn has created an incredible group of over 1000 loyal students who have the opportunity with their membership to practice as much as they’d like at any of our studios.  

How does the studio make yoga more accessible to others?

There are a few ways we create accessibility:

  • We hire first and foremost for friendliness: our team members immediately greet clients with a smile, they try to get to know things about clients in order to make personal connections, and we take extra time with new clients to help them feel at home with a full tour of the studio and a quick run through of anything they might need to know to help them have a wonderful first experience

  • We keep our class instruction simple and straight forward so that anyone taking class can easily follow along.  We opt for basic names for body parts and movements instead of anatomical or technical language and shy away from teaching what may be considered advanced postures in most of our group classes.

  • We  have over 150 classes every week in a variety of styles. Whatever someone’s yoga needs are for that day, there’s usually something on the schedule for them.

  • Our membership cost is $75 per month. From the get go, we’ve done all we can behind the scenes to keep our overhead costs down so that we can continue to provide our high quality services at a price point that allows for people to affordably practice.

Accessibility is at the foundation of GoYoga and I believe what set us apart, especially during our early years.

What are some successful marketing strategies that you’ve used?

I don’t have a secret sauce for marketing, but I find it’s important to be where your core demographic is as opposed to trying to get in front of every possible demographic. This was a key lesson I learned from the book Scaling Up.  We’ve used strategies from this book both for our marketing and for growing our business.  One of our key groups of clients at GoYoga are 40-50 year old professionals, who are beginning to place more value on taking care of themselves, but who are also not always on all of the digital platforms.  Therefore, we do some social media marketing on Facebook and Instagram, but also invest in smart print marketing and articles that this demographic will see and read. We also get involved in community events that are related to health and wellness as well as partner with other local business for fun co-branded events. This kind of targeted marketing gives us the best ROI on our limited budget and resources.  

How do you use Perkville at the business and how has it added value?

We’re using Perkville in a way that aligns with our business goals and objectives. We launched the program last December to show appreciation for our loyal members and also to re-engage members who were at risk for falling off. We host a member appreciation month, but that’s only one month out of the year. Now with Perkville, we can thank people year around for continuing to support the business and be a part of our community. We’ve been really pleased with the program and our clients are loving it. For instance, they often ask when our most popular reward, a branded tank top, will get restocked. They also get excited about our monthly bonus promotions such as double points for referrals and triple points for retail purchases.

What other software do you use at the business?

We use MINDBODY and their branded app. We’re keeping it simple for now to make sure we fully understand and are best utilizing the software we already have before introducing new software to the business.

What are your goals as a business owner?

I’m working towards getting our business concept and processes down so that we can build something solid and easily replicable. My business partner and I both have extensive experience in the franchising world, so we are strongly considering franchising as our next big step.  I get excited about the possibility of empowering others to own their own studio and providing them with a proven process for doing that. I believe that’s important because the average profit margin in our industry is 1-2%, which indicates there’s more work to be done when it comes to solidifying how to run a profitable and impactful yoga studio. Hopefully one day others can use GoYoga’s processes to have a business that is fruitful while providing people with this amazing service.

Any keywords of advice for other studio owners?

Know that you don’t have go at it alone. There’s useful information out there about how to run a successful business so definitely network and even join online groups such as Facebook groups for yoga studio owners. I’ve found that people are very willing to share information on what they have found does and doesn’t work when it comes to pricing, marketing, software and more.

Keep in mind that this business is cyclical: you may be busy in January and February when everyone makes their New Year resolution to get in shape and slower during the summer when people are on vacation or don’t want to be inside when it’s warmer. Therefore, you have to be smart and plan for these changes. For example, use Perkville to award double points in the slow months and put more money aside in anticipation of those months to help get you through any shortfalls.

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Being a business owner is a seven day a week commitment and requires tenacity and determination. You have to learn how to deal with stress so you can continue to love what you do and schedule regular time to fill up your cup so you can be at your best.  

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