2017 Pricing Updates: Lower Processing fees, more Retention Center emails!

To kick off 2017 the right way we're excited to announce two small changes to our pricing to help our customers:

  1. Lower Credit Card Processing Rates
  2. More emails with the Retention Center

Lower credit card processing rates

We've reached yet another volume milestone and I'm pleased to announce that our credit card processing rates are now 2.2% +$0.30/transaction. If you've been following Tula for a while you know they started at 2.9%, dropped to 2.5%, then to 2.3%, and now they're at 2.2%. 

So on a $140 ten pack, with us you pay a credit card processing fee of $3.38, whereas with mindbody you'd be paying $3.85. Over the course of a few months this quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars in savings. And of course with mindbody you have all the hidden fees such as PCI compliance fees, hidden monthly fees, etc. 

More emails with Retention Center

The other change we're making is that the Mala plan now comes with 25,000 retention center emails instead of 5,000. Our retention center is a very powerful tool that allows you to precisely target your students and communicate in a way that's most relevant to them. We want our customers to use the Retention Center to it's fullest potential as the new year starts off, and we're happy to make this change to empower you even further.

2016 was a fantastic year for Tula as a product, and for us as a company, thanks to the public support and kind words of our customers. We appreciate that you've been willing to share the kind of company we are with others in the yoga community, and we're grateful beyond words for your support.

We hope you have a wonderful 2017, and a very happy start to the new year!

Combo links, Waiver enhancements and more

I'm excited today to announce a few changes we've been working on that'll help you out in some small ways that'll have a big impact - with both our registrations system and our waivers system.

Combo links

One of the most powerful features of Tula is our payments & registrations system, and that it can allow people to sign up no matter whether they're logged in or whether they're a new customer. Sometimes though our payment forms can be confused as registration forms, which can sometimes lead to confusion because people will buy a pass, but not get registered for a class. On the payment form, once a purchase goes through people have the option of registering, but they aren't required to register.

To fix this problem we're introducing combo links, which will allow you to both take a payment for an event, and register the student for the event at the same time. Now, whenever you create a special event, you'll see a purchase link. When a student fills out this payment form they'll automatically be registered for the class when their payment goes through.

Use this link when you want to combine payment and force a registration

Use this link when you want to combine payment and force a registration

Waiver Enhancements

We've also made a nice little update to our waivers system. Our waivers system is fast and frictionless, but there was one problem with it: It wasn't super clear whether people had a waiver on file or not. We've fixed this and added a new bit of functionality for our customers that have been around since before the waiver system, or for new people who want to upload their own waivers.

Now, when you check someone in, you'll either see a grey waiver icon, or a green waiver icon. If they have a grey icon, you'll know they need to sign the waiver. If they have a green one, you'll know they have a waiver on file.

Quickly and easily see if someone is missing a waiver, and quickly click to view a signed waiver.

Quickly and easily see if someone is missing a waiver, and quickly click to view a signed waiver.

And a lot more...

In addition we've made a bunch of changes behind the scenes on the retention center, numerous bug fixes and other small enhancements you may or may not notice.

We're already working on our next set of updates and will have more for you in the near future!

The best support in the industry now even better

One of the things we pride ourselves on at Tula is our customer service and support. We're always happy to help our customers as often as they need, and with whatever it is they need help with. Whether that be with a general question about our system, getting some help putting the widgets in their website, or just wanting to chat about the business of yoga with someone.

As we do with our product, we're always looking to refine our business operations as well, and I'm thrilled to announce today a massive upgrade to our already amazing customer support. We've changed support systems on the back end to deliver the optimal customer support experience as often as possible.

Previously, we had a support widget embedded into our product that would allow you to communicate with us. It was nice and it worked well, and our customers always appreciated being able to easily get ahold of us. So we've of course preserved this experience. 

But there were also a lot of little quirks with the system, that I believed created a sub-optimal customer experience at times. Sometimes people would think the support widget was a chat widget, and we'd get a message that said "hey is anyone there?" Sometimes people would ask for a link to the documentation they had read earlier, but couldn't find it. Other times people would ask a question that we've answered many times before, but there was no easy way to access these Frequently Asked Questions.

A human touch is nice, and we're happy to provide that, but sometimes you're even happier with an immediate answer you can find yourself.

So this was our challenge: How to provide better access to information we've already documented, how to make it as easy as ever to send us a message when you do need help, and how to make ourselves even MORE available to our customers than we are right now.

Introducing our new support widget

I'm excited today to announce a major upgrade to our support channel with a new widget that does all three of the following things:

  1. Makes all our documentation instantly available right inside the support widget, in an easily searchable format. (Please search away: We have tools on the back end to alert us to the most common questions people have!)
  2. Allows our customers to send us a message right from within the app, for the times when our documentation doesn't answer a question.
  3. Enables live chat so that we can chat with you in real time, for the times you want to talk with a human RIGHT NOW.

Just as before, you'll see a little question mark in the lower right corner of every page. But now you'll see different internals, with three separate actions you can take. 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

We're so excited to now offer live chat capabilities to our customers, while also making it easier to share the knowledge we've already put together and collected from our customer community so far.

We're obsessive about serving our customers better than anyone else, and we hope you like this latest upgrade as much as we do!

Global Registration Settings, Improved Purchase flows and more

This first part of the fall we've been busy making a bunch of updates to make the overall functionality of Tula better and smoother than ever. Here are a bunch of changes we just pushed out.

Global Registration Settings
One of the core features of Tula is our registrations system. It's very powerful and allows you to dictate whether a payment is required prior to class, among other things. Previously, if a payment was required, people could NOT de-register and if payment was not required people could de-register. We've now given control to you for these settings, and you can choose whether people should be able to de-register, and if so, for how long up until the start time of class. It's a fantastic improvement we think our customers are going to love. Along with this, you can also set default settings to make your event creation faster than ever.

Choose default settings for event creation, and dictate when people can deregister.

Choose default settings for event creation, and dictate when people can deregister.

Improved Credit Card input and pass picker
One of our most important workflows is recording purchases and entering in credit cards. We pushed out an update that makes the credit card input much better, especially when using tablets and iPads. 

Calendar performance Improvements
All calendars are loading much quicker now thanks to the way we're doing a few things differently behind the scenes. Previously when people were logged in, we were calculating their ability to sign up and pay for all classes. Now we only do that for the classes they click on making the loading significantly faster.

Phone Number Internationalization
For a long time too long - our phone numbers inputs were US style phone numbers . Now we have proper phone number inputs for all countries around the world. 

Merge Improvements
Previously when you would merge students, we weren't carrying over future registrations. This is updated now so everything including upcoming registrations are transferred during a merge.

Many other small updates and bug fixes
Along with these changes we've also pushed out numerous little updates, bug fixes, improved error handling and more.

As always we're working on Tula every day to make the system serve you better than ever. We hope you love these latest updates!


 

 

 

Guest Post: Everything you know about student retention is wrong

This post is a guest post from our friends at Signpost

Student retention. It’s the sisyphean struggle most yoga studio owners know all too well. Keeping classes full and students committed to learning the practice requires diligence and creativity. Part science and part art, the first step to improving retention is committing to a data-driven approach. This will be invaluable in diagnosing issues and identifying areas where your retention strategy can be fortified. We’ll walk through this process to calculate the stats that matter most to your business, and explore techniques for boosting student engagement.
 

Combatting Churn: What to do before, during and after class

 

The easiest way to combat student churn is to make sure that you and your instructors are focusing on the right routine before, during and after classes. You should be arriving early and taking some time to clear your head and mentally prepare prior to class. Focus on your intentions and be present. Your mood can set the tone for an entire class, so try to stay aware of what you’re conveying to your students.

Be there to greet them and make an effort to learn their names. They’ll feel like they’re being welcomed back to a community when you make this simple gesture. When you encounter a new student, take some time to learn their name and spend a few moments chatting with them about what they’re hoping to get out of their practice. This is also a great opportunity to inquire about any injuries or illnesses that might inhibit or be aggravated during class. Let them know how to modify various poses, or at least give them a heads up on any materials they should grab (foam blocks, elastic bands, a towel, etc.), to help them alleviate pressure in injured areas.

Don’t be afraid to spend some time just chatting with students and learning more about them. This is the best way to forge these important relationships. Check in and see where their head is on that day, or ask very specific questions that they can’t respond to generically, as is usually the case when people are asked how they are. “What was the best part of your day so far”, “What is something you’re looking forward to the most right now?” or “Anyone have any fun travel plans?”. Whatever it takes to break the ice and encourage participation.

After class, be sure the instructor is available for an extra 15-20 minutes to interact with students and properly conclude their time together. Make it clear that you’re available if anyone has any questions or is looking for guidance with their practice. Again, this a great opportunity to bond with students, and maybe target those who tend to be more reserved in front of the entire class. Give individual feedback and tips on the ways they can improve. Perhaps the most important, be supportive and let them leave with some words of encouragement to fuel their excitement about this journey.

Education and Approach: Positioning Students for Success

Many students decide to start practicing yoga because they’re looking for a healthy activity that they enjoy doing. They are seldom realistic when it comes to their expectations for themselves, or the rate at which they’ll become proficient in advanced techniques. It’s up to you and your instructors to set expectations and be clear and honest about the amount of work and consistency required to develop the skills and strength required for advanced asanas and sequences.

Setting them up to succeed can be a difficult task because you don’t want them to get bored with existing beginning or intermediate poses and programs. As you already know, it’s a very personal journey for each individual. The key is to create variety in order to keep them engaged, and satiated instead of launching into new challenges they’re not yet ready for. Try to create a diversity of sequences with their existing skill sets. Sprinkle in only a few new poses at a time, and make sure you give these time for students to develop and master. Moving too quickly will lead to frustration, especially for students who only come once a week, and will cause them to fail out.  

In order to keep building up their strength and skill, it’s essential that they attend classes on a regular cadence. Try creating your own loyalty or VIP program that motivates students to attend more regularly. Whether it’s a free class for every month where they attend at least 2 classes a week, or a points system that rewards them with branded water bottles, mats, clothing, etc., they’ll be more likely to follow through on this commitment to the practice.

You can may also want to consider investing in marketing automation software to help you stay on track. Signpost’s Mia, an AI-driven CRM, knows who your current and prospective students are and sends them the right emails, at the right time to keep them engaged. She also identifies advocates and amplifies their reach to drive more five-star reviews, loyalty and referrals. Automating your digital outreach can help ensure that no matter how busy you get, you won’t drop the ball on retention.

Use Recurring Revenue To Bolster Retention

Implementing a recurring revenue model is a great way to secure guaranteed income, month after month. This is when plans automatically renew on a consistent basis (usually monthly). To do this successfully you have to start with pricing. Make sure that your unlimited plans are priced according to your mid-level students. Many studios base it on their top-level contingent of highly engaged, devoted students that consistently attend multiple classes a week. Identify your mid-level students and determine a price based on their average monthly attendance.

Too often studios worry about leaving money on the table, but it is much better to have slightly lower price point and vastly improved retention in the long run. You can also try adding different benefits to this unlimited membership, or transforming it into an exclusive club, which provides access to exclusive perks. Similar to the loyalty program outlined above, these could be a small welcome gift, a discount on any products you have available for sale, branded gear or a private lesson. Or, you could combine both models to reward students for staying on the unlimited plan for various lengths of time.  

Make sure to also reach out and ask for feedback and send some check-ins to see how they are enjoying the classes and if there’s anything they’d like to see incorporated. You can take some time to follow up and address questions or concerns they might have expressed during class (or in your discussions before and after). If they mentioned a favorite type of pose, perhaps offer to show them some modifications that they might also enjoy, or to work them into the next class. If you’re not sure what they like, ask.

You can supplement these efforts with a handwritten letter welcoming them to your studio’s community, or call them to check in. Try organizing an event for new customers. Whether an introduction to meditation, or a clean-eating potluck or dinner. Invite a few of the top-level students who have been attending for a while, so they can tell them about their own journeys and challenges they’ve had and encourage them to remain dedicated. When your students forge a connection with each other, as well as instructors they are more likely to feel like a part of the community and return.

Keep your eye on the big picture

As is often the case, it’s vital to look at the big picture when focusing your energy on student retention. When you know what churn you’re up against, you can start implementing these retention techniques to improve your rates, and also employ some customer acquisition strategies in order to bridge the gap and continue to grow your business.

Want to learn more about Signpost? Check them out at http://signpost.com