My name is Sarah Highfield, I am the founder of Yogagise Yoga and based in London. I have only been teaching yoga for three and a half years, but in this very short space of time, I have taught at London’s top studios (Bodyism, Form Studios, Edge); at Om Yoga Festival & World Yoga Festival; on exclusive retreats in Spain (City2Sand) & Greece (Helios Retreats); on a yoga teacher training course (Inspira Yoga UK & Spain); to students at a school in Dubai, and at pop up classes in my hometown of Hong Kong (Yogabambam & Hebe Haven Yacht Club) & on the beautiful island of Antigua (Catherine’s). Additionally, I have achieved extensive press coverage in Om Yoga Magazine, The Times, The Financial Times, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, The Daily Mail & The Evening Standard to name a few, I have collaborated with high profile brands & events (London Fashion Week, Lululemon, Nike), I have launched my own series of special pop-up yoga classes which have taken place at The Detox Kitchen, The Allbright Club, Mortimer House & L’oscar London, I have started giving motivational talks (Shell conference in Barcelona), I have a wonderful group of private yoga students and am currently in the process of expanding my own Yogagise brand to include Food & Lifestyle. So, I guess I have a lot on my plate at any one time!
8 Tips To Retain Private Yoga Students
What I would like to focus on today is the topic of teaching yoga privately, and more specifically, how to retain private yoga students. How do you keep private students engaged? How do keep private students from turning to teachers who charge less? How do you keep private students from booking classes with other yoga teachers who are more experienced, or more flexible, or younger, etc? Well, the good news is that it isn’t rocket science! I feel fortunate to have a loyal group of private students and here are some tips on how I have maintained our relationships:
1) Build a strong relationship with your students
I have a really strong relationship with each of my private students because I feel that we understand and respect one another. I also take the time to get to know them if they are keen to talk about themselves. Some students prefer not to share too much personal information with you, while others offer themselves up like an open book. If a student wants to have a cup of tea with me after a class, and if I have time, I will always happily join them and get to know them a little better. I also treat them as I would like to be treated. There have been times, when I am running ten-minutes late for a class and I message my students to let them know as soon as I realise. In return, I don’t mind if they are running ten-minutes late at their end either and they message me to let me know. I am now at a stage with many of my students where I will often meet them for coffee or lunch, as well as introduce them to each other, since I know they will get along. One of the reasons I really enjoy teaching privately is the amount of flexibility which comes with it. When you teach in a studio, you don’t have the luxury of everything being okay if you arrive five minutes late, if anything, you need to arrive at a studio a lot sooner as you will need to set up for the class and be available when students arrive in case they have anything they would like to talk to you about prior to the class.
2) Make them feel important
I really try to make my students feel special and important, simply because they are. They are the ones who are on a yoga journey, they are the ones who enable me to do what I do and they are the ones who come to me to explore their passion for yoga. I do this by being as ‘available’ and flexible with them as possible. I make sure I respond to any messages that they send me as quickly as possible and always keep them up-to-date on their class schedule. I make a big effort to be reliable, I’m very time conscious and I’m always happy to chat with them.
3) Recognise loyalty
I try to find ways in which I can recognise loyalty without going over the top. Recently I was in St Tropez, France, so I bought all of my longstanding, regular students a small souvenir. I made sure that it wasn’t anything too big, which could make them feel uncomfortable or that they have to reciprocate, and it was something to simply show a token of my appreciation for them, which was light-hearted and thoughtful. I also recently organised a special yoga & lunch for my private yoga students at L’oscar London. It was a really luxurious event with ‘Yogagise’ branded gift bags (which contained treats totalling over £160 per bag – see photos below) and a Michelin-star lunch. All of my students loved it and are already asking when the next private event will be.
4) Understand their style of yoga and offer different styles of yoga to suit your student
I am lucky to have a really special group of private students. I honestly feel blessed that I have a fantastic cross-section of students in terms of age, yoga ability, preferred yoga style and personalities. It keeps my job interesting and every yoga class that I teach is tailored exactly for whoever I am teaching. So, some classes are more dynamic, while others are much more restorative. Some classes use music, others are done in silence. I really enjoy offering a class which suits my students in terms of energy level and atmosphere.
5) Stay in touch
When my students go on holiday, I always ask them when they will be back and make an effort to text them when they return. It sounds like such an obvious thing to do, but I know of some other yoga teachers who actually feel a little awkward messaging a student if they haven’t seen them for a few weeks.
6) Put all costs and dates in writing
I am always upfront with yoga class costs and make sure that I send all of my students any costs in writing. I also put appointments in my diary as soon as they are made, that way, I can lock down their appointment and make sure I don’t double book. I then message my students with a list of their upcoming classes with costs and ask them to put it in their diary too. There is absolutely no ambiguity or assumptions when it comes to this type of information.
7) Be organised
I have a big excel spreadsheet that I call my ‘Yoga Tracker’ where I log everything yoga-related that I do, which includes tracking my private yoga students. I keep note of every single class they have ever had and how much they paid. I also make any important notes such as their yoga goals or if they are going to be way on holiday. This is not only for my own organisation and filing, but if a student wants to know how many classes they have had so far, or how much they have spent, I can simply copy and paste that information from my yoga tracker and send it to them instantly. I think my students feel reassured that everything is being tracked at my end, especially if they have busy lives (which they generally do), and that this information is available to them whenever they need it.
8) Tell students about the other yoga work you do
I always tell my students about my other yoga jobs & projects, so that they can see that I work in many different ways. I let them know that I also work in studios, on yoga teacher trainings, on retreats, on pop-ups, that I collaborate with big brands and when I get press coverage. I like to reassure them that I’m not a one-trick pony and that I’m certainly not out of touch with what is happening in the world of yoga. I invite my students to follow me on my social media channels and see the other work that I’m doing.