How to Survive the Downtime Blues

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You know it. You were taught it. You have experience in what correct Pilates posture is and how to keep yourself upright even in the most trying of times. This is the mark of a true Pilates instructor, but who trained you to know how to keep your business upright when it things start to slump? Like many other industries, the Pilates business has it’s peak and off seasons. The summer holiday hits and suddenly you find even your most loyal clients will have their eyes focused on vacation and their tan lines, rather than their powerhouses. So, what’s a dedicated instructor to do when her pocket book has tumbleweeds and she’s searching in the couch cushions for change? Plan baby, plan.

I’m a huge proponent of being in the moment, but if you only focus on your marketing and cash flow in the moment, you’ll be playing a nasty game of catch up during your busy times just to keep your business afloat. It’s time to be proactive and not reactive and turn your summer blues into summertime bliss…here’s how:

Get Analytical with it. Keeping track of how your business is doing- which month’s are the busiest or slowest, which packages sell better, etc. This is invaluable info. You’ll need to know as much as you can to make smart decisions on how to bump up your sales during the sluggish times. MindBody software has reports built in. If you use Quickbooks to keep track of your books, they have reports you can draw up as well, or maybe you’re just starting out and doing things the old school way. Either way- create a spreadsheet (either on your computer or paper). List the months, your sales, what you sold, and who to. This way you can see how things ebb and flow during the year and what offerings are selling and which aren’t.

Draw up a marketing blueprint. Once you have all the data it’s time to plan. We’re halfway through the year, so this downtime is a great to make your marketing blueprint for your second part of 2014. Take the data you collected and then figure out which months you need to up your regular marketing practices. The key here is to have a plan in place before it’s dead in the studio. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukah are  almost upon us and you don’t want to be singing the holiday blues too. Plan for the next slump now, waiting will be too late.

Get your juices flowing. Ok, creative time here. I encourage you to think outside of the box. Yes, giving a percentage off your packages is an idea, it’s just not a very good one. During the holidays everyone is offering sale prices and most likely your clients are becoming immune to the sight of them. Maybe it’s time to offer a “stay-in-shape” plan that’s 6 weeks of videos or lessons to help them from getting puffy from all those cookies. Or maybe you can offer a bonus if they buy a particular big package before  the end of the year which will boost your December bottom line. Do you have products? Maybe a holiday gift guide would be a nice reminder that you offer more than just sessions. I always come up with awesome ideas in the shower or on the reformer. Get moving and see what comes up. And one more thing- I highly recommend NOT reducing your prices or offering a big discount. This is the lazy way to market. How can you add more VALUE to your offerings and keep the dollars where they belong- with you.

Get Help. No woman is an island, especially not you. Hire out what you’re not good at. Maybe looking over numbers makes your eyes cross, or you aren’t very interested/skilled at creating killer graphics. Whatever the thing is that you hate, it’s most likely because you aren’t very good at it. Instead of wasting valuable teaching time trying to make your weakness your strength, why not just hire an expert to do it? In business, we call this outsourcing and it works. Yes, it will cost you a little cash on the front end but remember we’re making plans to boost your sales and you have to spend a little to make a little.

My challenge for you is to implement some of these techniques NOW, so don’t wait. Collect the numbers, pull out your calendar, do some daydreaming and leave your comments below. Maybe what you’ve done will inspire others. This is the time to make the most of 2015, the ball is in your hands.

Need a little more help getting yourself ready for the New Year? Sign up for Business Coaching with Pilates studio owner and Biznass Coach, Lindsay Lopez today!

If you’re a Pilates instructor in the NYC area and are looking to grow your business, come and join the first Pilates Cooperative, FORM Pilates. For more info click here!

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