By Jane Bahneman, FBA Special Contributor

Here in the (nearly) post-COVID era, it is noticeable just how many brick and mortar studios didn’t make it. For those that have survived, it’s possibly a long road ahead to full recovery. To be honest, it was some scary times to be a brick-and-mortar business owner. Just before the world shut down, I was positioned for another location expansion and life was grand!

But in the last year (plus), I’ve had to pivot, twirl, and dance to find my way back!

I feel like my tried-and-true client retention tactics were blown up during COVID. Nothing was predictable – not my programming, nor my client behaviors, nor my trusty marketing hacks. Heck, I could not even predict when I would re-open my doors because those decisions were literally out of my control (likely the same was true for you, too).

Nectar Yoga Studios has been re-opened for over one year, so I have a bit of data to support this new normal I’m operating in. What I can tell you is that nothing is by any means yet “normal”. In an effort to share what is working for me here in the new world, I offer three concepts I’ve lived by to survive, to restabilize, and now to scale once again.

And, quite candidly, my business survival was not a "pivot." I had excellent practices in place going into COVID which is what I believe ultimately saved my business. I simply leaned harder into my habits and my systems and tightened them up in every way I could. Then I continuously re-imagined and re-invented.

Here goes:

Practice #1: Simplify

Less staff, less money, which means more of other things (like work hours and stress levels for you). Look at every single process, and penny, in your business. Where can you simplify? If you are too close to it, connect with a savvy business person you trust to get their vantage point. I promise you, there are other simple solutions you just have not thought of yet. Fatigue and strain can make it hard to be ask for other credible eyes on your business.

Practice #2: Consistency

I’ve simplified in multiple ways, programming, marketing, staffing, and more. Consider looking at what gives you the most bang for your buck (and for your time) and then pursue only those things, with total consistency. Like you, I have different measures of ROI of time and money - and for fueling my “why?” because nce those are identified, pursue with determined focus.

Practice #3: Systems

This bears repeating...I had systems in place pre-COVID that I know allowed my business to sustain the massive COVID blow. And this is a new world, which means all my systems need regular tune-ups. Don’t get left behind just because it DID work before doesn’t mean it DOES work now. So as your business recovers, be sure to commit time to thoughtful reflection and evaluation of the validity and efficiency of your day-to-day systems. Adjust accordingly.

Long and short, if it isn’t a giving me a high return and a feeling of “heck yes!” in my business operations … then it is a hard “no” nowadays here in the post-COVID era. It is a daily practice not of “pivoting”, but of always innovating.

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Jane Bahneman, MS, is the owner of Nectar Yoga Studios outside of Washington DC.  Jane has been teaching fitness and yoga and speaking nationally for nearly two decades. She has held leadership roles in many fitness & wellness settings and owns Jane Bahneman Consulting for aspiring entrepreneurs. Jane is an Athleta Brand Ambassador and serves on the American Council on Exercise Industry Advisory Panel and the Advisory Council for the Association of Fitness Studios. Her certifications include: ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist; NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist; ACE Certified Group Exercise Instructor; Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 and Prenatal-RYT; Spinning Certified.

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