There are plenty of reasons why clients walk through your doors: to lose weight, to sweat, to get stronger, to have fun, to reach a personal goal or to cultivate self-awareness. The reason a client comes regularly is because they are attracted to your company culture. The universal rule “like attracts like” is at play and in a western society marked by the abundance of choice, the key to clients committing to your studio is that they feel like they fit in.
As an owner and a manager, you set the tone for your company culture. Cultivating and maintaining a positive company culture is the highest priority – your clients will remember how your staff made them feel – not how many reps they did, if there was the perfect number of chaturangas nor how many kilos of sweat they shed.
To foster a staff that is welcoming, authentically kind, helpful and diligent, your company’s management must consciously shape the team culture. Managers need to lead by example, but also make thoughtful decisions about how to run the studio and develop healthy professional relationships with employees.
While the personality of your studio is unique, every studio can follow these four guidelines to build a positive company culture.
1. GOOD COMMUNICATION – NOT OVER-COMMUNICATION
Good communication is the best way to start off on the right foot with new employees. Tell them what is expected of them, be detailed and tell them how you will check-in with them over time.
Let the know how you prefer to communicate. Do you expect them to check their email regularly? What is the best way for them to contact you? Where do employees leave daily notes for the management? Organized and clear communication will improve your staff’s timeliness, accountability and confidence in performing their jobs.
Like everything, this can be taken too far. Here are some quick tips for effective communication:
- Avoid emails that are novel-length.
- Use bullet points and concise language.
- Don’t send too many emails (your staff will stop reading them if you do).
- Consolidate your staff notes and send out a weekly or monthly email.
- Deliver constructive individual feedback in person, not text or email.
- Whenever possible, give them advance notice regarding studio changes.
Be transparent when challenging situations arise. Anything that could become the subject of gossip should be discussed openly with your staff. Drama prevention is better than damage control.
2. NO HIERARCHY
Every person on your staff is important! Your unpaid interns are just as valuable as your highest paid instructor. Create an environment that your staff enjoys being a part of, and they will work harder as individuals and as a team. The success of your studio depends on your staff gelling with one another.
Valuing every team member equally will decrease your staff turnover, improve staff performance and encourage your employees to grow with the company. Your intern might be a teacher or studio manager in the future.
3. NIP NEGATIVITY IN THE BUD
Negative sentiments within the staff will bring your studio down. Your clients will notice negativity and start to feel uncomfortable at your studio. Moreover, a negative attitude will impede your growth – if your staff doesn’t believe in your studio, then no one will.
Usually, negativity derives from management mishandling an opportunity to improve. Making mistakes is part of running a business — how you recognize and respond to those mistakes will determine whether your team gets stronger or weaker.
Prevent negativity from brewing by encouraging your employees to come to you with feedback and routinely check-in with them one-on-one to ask how the studio could improve. Cultivate a safe working environment where your staff feels like they can be honest with you by being available, listening and following through with solutions. When your staff (or a client) gives you a critique, instead of meeting it with resistance or indifference, find gratitude for the chance to make your business better.
What to do if you have a “bad seed:”
- Address the situation promptly.
- Meet with the individual privately.
- Be candid about what you’re going to discuss without getting emotional.
- Recognize what they’re doing well.
- Discuss the problem behavior/incident and provide specific examples of how their behavior has a negative impact on the studio’s community.
- Observe how they respond to you (receptive/defensive or calm/angry), their reaction may determine your next step.
- If you believe this person can learn from their mistakes, give them a second chance and provide clear expectations of how they can correct their behavior.
- If you have a bad feeling or they become volatile during your discussion, dismiss them.
- Trust your gut.
Regularly thank your staff members and recognize their hard work. A staff that feels appreciated will be dedicated and devoted to your studio. Here are some nice ways to show your gratitude:
- Share positive customer reviews with them.
- Reward hard workers with raises, better shifts or promotions.
- Give them discounts on retail merchandise.
- Celebrate their professional prowess (a simple “Nice turnout today!” or “Amazing job explaining our price options to that customer!” goes a long way).
- Give out a monthly staff award.
- Share the love – build partnerships with other businesses and extend the discounts to your employees (massage therapy, spas, salons, fitness equipment, restaurants, etc.).
- Host fun events to celebrate your staff (happy hour, volunteer work, amusement parks, BBQ in the park, etc.).
- Say “Thank you” often 🙂
Caitlin Rose Kenney is a member of the Studio Happiness team at ClassPass in New York City. She’s a yoga teacher and former studio manager with a passion for professionalizing the fitness and wellness industry.