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

Late Summer Updates

We've had a busy summer making a lot of updates to Tula and it's time for another update!

Coming on the heels of our early summer updates and the release of our variable class cost update we wanted to share some more of the latest updates we made - many of them around passes and the management of them.

Transfer Passes between students: One of our most common support requests was when a customer wanted to move a pass from one student to another. We've now given you the power to transfer passes between students. Simply click on the new pass menu icon, and choose to transfer the pass to another student. We do all the hard work on the back end to un-pay for any attendances that the removed pass might have paid for. 

Better Return and Refund Options: It used to be that you could remove a pass, which would also issue a refund, or you could simply issue a refund from the payments tab. We've cleaned things up a bit here to give you the option to Remove and Refund a pass, or simply issue a refund and keep the pass, right from this new menu. It's a much better process that it was before.

More information on Passes: Along with the updates above, we also added more information regarding the classes that a particular pass paid for. Now when you view a pass, along with seeing the number of credits that pass came with, you'll see how many credits have been used, which classes it paid for, and what the cost of each class was.

 

Removing ClassPass Integration: For a while now we've had a simple integration with ClassPass where our customers could forward classpass registrations into Tula. ClassPass has changed their emails a bunch of times however, and so the integration was less stable than we like. We've decided that until we can guarantee the reliability our customers are accustomed to we're removing the classpass integration. If you're a Tula customer that uses Classpass and you want a tighter integration, get in touch with them and let them know you'd love to see their API opened up.

More to come!

We're always working hard to make updates to Tula and we hope you like our latest set of improvements. As usual we'll have some more updates to share in the next month or so!

 

Credit for a Cause: 2016 - Benefitting Living Beyond Breast Cancer Reach and Raise

Back in May I announced that Tula Software would be helping to coordinate yoga studios around the world to join Living Beyond Breast Cancer's "Reach and Raise" fundraising event the weekend of September 17th and 18th, 2016. This will be our inaugural Credit for a Cause event, and I'm happy to say that starting today all Tula customers can choose to sign up to participate in this fundraising event right from within Tula, and we're incentivizing as many studios to participate as possible by offering a free month of Tula Software to any studio that raises at least $250!

For participating studios, we'll create a special pass for the weekend of the event. Leading up to the event LBBC will provide you with marketing materials and other collateral so you can help spread the word about the fundraiser to your respective communities.

Here are all the details for participating studios.

  • A $10 LBBC Donation Pass will be created at your studio for the weekend fundraiser. (For international studios an approximate value pass will be created.)
  • Prior to the weekend fundraising event, LBBC will send participation packets to participating studios, and will include marketing materials such as flyers, postcards and other collateral to promote the fundraiser leading up to the weekend of September 17th and 18th.
  • Donation passes will come with 1 credit, and will be valid for 30 days.
  • During the course of the weekend fundraiser, studios are encouraged to ask all students if they want to make a $10 donation and get a credit in return for their donation. The goal is to make it easy for as many people to participate as possible and encourage everyone to buy a donation credit.
  • Studios that raise at least $250 will receive a free month of Tula Software!
  • After donations have been collected, participating studios will send the funds raised to LBBC by way of a PayPal money transfer.

We're excited to see what we can do by bringing our customers together for this good cause, and we'll be spending all week promoting the event and working with our customers to get them signed up. If you're interested in participating simply log into Tula and follow the prompts within the software.

For additional information please visit https://tulasoftware.com/reach-and-raise, and of course if you have any questions feel free to get int touch with us via our awesome support channel!

 

Using Tula Software to Create Your Own Demand Based Pricing System

First, Some background:

Image via blog.wiser.com

Image via blog.wiser.com

The primary thing happening in the fitness industry and it’s relationship with technology right now is that software companies are aggressively moving to do to three main things:

1. Turn service providers (gyms, studios, salons, etc.) into commodities that provide them with "inventory" (class spots, appointments, etc.).

2. Build a relationship with consumers, so that consumers purchase their services through the software company, instead of through the service provider directly, so that the software company can make money processing credit cards.

3. Mine the data obtained through the above process, because in the new economy, data is the new oil. (Important: you have the oil!)

The problem with this approach for the independent business owner, is that it extracts an extraordinary amount of value from their business, while providing little value in return. Whether it’s Groupon, ClassPass or Mindbody’s Deals Engine, what they are ultimately offering you is an attendance at a discounted rate. Nothing more.

That they have consumers is not evidence of effective marketing on their part, for which you should be willing to turn over your schedule, attendance data, student credit card data, student email addresses, etc. in exchange for the magic marketing sauce they’ve made. 

No, the only thing happening is that basic laws of economics are at play: If you lower the price of something, demand will increase.

It’s critically important to understand: if companies such as Groupon and Mindbody were increasing demand for your service, they would be able to pay you MORE for your services than you are able to command on your own. That they ALWAYS pay you less is the only proof you need to know they are simply not able to provide you with more value than you can provide for yourself. Or more simply, you do not need them to sell your services for half price. You can do that all on your own.

The newest trend in the industry is that companies are working to build algorithms to determine when “inventory” (class spots) is available and adjust the pricing in the same way that uber does surge pricing. It’s called "Demand Based Pricing" or "Dynamic Pricing"

Startups such as Lymbr and Dibs are doing this with the belief that they can eventually become "the uber of fitness", and Mindbody doesn't mind because they make money when these companies access your inventory through their system, as they charge a partner API fee

Mindbody announced yesterday on their quarterly losses call that they’ll be both “expanding their offering on the Mindbody connect app to go beyond intro offers” and that they’ll be partnering with Under Armour to give them access to “our inventory of fitness activities”.  The promise will be, as it always is, that they’ll increase demand for your service.

But you can rest assured it will once again be nothing more than a path through which a discounted attendance comes in through your door.

That's what all of this always amounts to: discounts.

Build your own system. Strengthen your own business.

I provide this background because I want our customers to understand how much power we’ve put into their hands with our updated credits system, and that it is yet another example of how we are the only technology company in the industry that is truly dedicated to empowering our customers. 

If you believe your business would benefit by occasionally altering your price for specific classes based on popularity, you can leverage the updated credits system we announced earlier this week. Maybe you’ll want to try making your early morning classes a half a credit. Maybe you have an evening class that is always sold out, all the time, and you want to see what would happen if you made it cost 1.5 or 2 credits. Or maybe you often do one on one privates, and you’d prefer to charge a higher price when appointments are scheduled on evenings and weekends.

I’m not saying you should do any of these things. What I am saying is that a lot of money is being spent, and a lot of talent is focused right now, on how to obtain data that you yourself have at your fingertips, and sell to consumers at different prices based on that data.

If you own a studio, and you use Tula, you can now build your very own demand based pricing system based on the reports already available, combined with your knowledge of your own business and your own community and our variable credits system.

And if you don’t use Tula, this is just the latest in a long string of examples of how we're different than any of our competitors, and you should definitely check us out.