Pilates 101: Class Scheduling
By Jean Munoz-Keese
From the 2008 Balanced Body catalog
From the beginning, I realized that along with quality programming, excellent staff, and a supportive environment, scheduling would be a critical element in the success of my studio. Efficient scheduling is at the core our business and when done properly, will help maximize your capacity and revenue. The bottom line? You want to schedule as much as you can. But, you need to have a strategy.
We all know what this is – it’s the time of day when your greatest traffic comes through your door. For many facilities, it’s before people start their day or as they are finishing it. During these times we offer the classes that meet the needs of the majority of our customers.
For our existing clientele, we offer most of our apparatus and mat classes. To attract new customers, we offer our beginning programs to hook prospects on what we have to offer.
These are the hours we book most of our private sessions and semi-private sessions. While we also schedule classes during these hours, most of this time is booked with people who want more private attention. In these non-peak hours, we schedule specialty classes, such as prenatal or kids classes.
Offering other types of fitness classes can cause a synergy to inspire your clients to increase the frequency of their visits – if it is convenient and cost-effective. When scheduling, think about what classes work well back-to-back. For example, offering a 30-minute jump board class after a mat Pilates class or before an apparatus class gives customers a easy way to extend their stay in your studio. (Note: Package pricing is an excellent way to encourage this.)
When to add a class
When you offer both apparatus and drop-in mat classes, you’ll hit a point where you need to add another class. For any appointment-based class, this is simple. When you add a group class, it can be a bit more complicated since you may dilute your current classes. When done at the right time, however, this added class gives you room to grow and gives your customers more opportunity to increase their classes within a high quality teaching environment.
When to drop a class
Well, this isn’t as fun. But the reality is that sometimes a class is not as successful as anticipated. We generally give a class three months to do prove itself. If it is still suffering after that time, we take it off the schedule and try something new! No reason to put energy and resources down the drain.
When to make changes
With any appointment-based class you will know when you need to make a change, and you can do it rather quickly. With drop-in classes, it isn’t as easy. I know some studios change their drop-in schedule monthly. For us, we’ve found that seasonal changes work best to allow our customers to establish a routine. So, we make a majority of our changes in January, June and September.
Get customer feedback
Customers are the experts on what you should do. Take surveys and find out what they want! Clearly, their purchases and attendance are a vote in themselves. However, there may be other opportunities you can learn about by listening to your customers.
Jean Munoz-Keese is the co-owner of Sattva Yoga, Pilates & Ayurveda in Rocklin, CA