If you've watched any of my videos you're probably clear that I promote carving out your own niche as a yoga business. But when does that carving need to stop? In a recent article on rise of the vegan they highlight a London Café who completely ditched cows milk and publicly advertised it as a result of an intensive YouTube video on the dairy industry. I think it's safe to assume that this type of action could bring some controversy as the majority of western culture has grown up mass consuming dairy. In our family we don't regularly consume milk as we prefer almond milk but I still love a good latte.
To the point though. A bold action like this runs the risk of deterring milk drinking proponents from going to this café. On the other hand a bold action like this may actually attract individuals with similar values. Especially in a large populace like London this may be a very smart business move. On the other hand if the café in a small centre say, under 50,000, was to make the same decision, it may limited business. The risk of alienating clients is real.
So when carving out your own niche what areas should you avoid? In terms of a yoga, pilates, or other wellness business, I usually recommend avoiding too much commentary on politics, religion, and foreign culture.
Here's an example of how I messed this one up.
A student came in to my hot yoga studio just as I was in the middle of telling a story to my front desk staff about what I found to be a crazy news article I had read earlier that day. The student was the first of the day and as i had trained all my staff to engage in conversation with our clients I proceed to demonstrate by include the student in my story time. The news article was about a weekend hunting competition for coyotes where people paid to kill as many as they could over the weekend. The icing on the cake was that they turned the bodies in to the organizers who got to keep and would sell the pelts. No science or data collection was involved. I found this offensive and stated so. To my surprise the student got really upset and yelled at me! They proceed to explain how they thought that coyotes were a real problem in our area for killing house animals and livestock and how they had lost their favorit 4 (yes 4) rare (and expensive) breed small dogs to coyotes that had "lured" them out of the drive way to be "massacred"! They then continued to educate my whole staff on why all coyotes should be killed for about 15 minutes! Ahh! Obviously I was taken at back. My first reaction was a desire to argue, but luckily I caught myself.
It wasn't until later, after a chat with my business coach, that I was able to collect my thoughts on the matter. In the end whether I was right or not had NO relevance. My yoga studio was operating as an all inclusive place, including coyote haters ;).
Did the student need my incredibly powerful yoga class any less than anyone else? No! Of course not (in fact at the time I thought they needed it more). Luckily for me I had an established relationship with the individual and the whole thing blew over easily. But imagine if it had been a new student. They may have never returned, which would have been a loss for both them and me.
Why do I say stay out of Politics, Religion, and Foreign culture? Ask your self:
If a student is a christian / muslim / atheist will your product benefit them?
If they're a conservative or a liberal will your product benefit them? Probably yes. Which means those types of things are less relevant than what positivity your product can bring to anybody's live.
So what can we talk about?
This incident lead me to create policies and conduct more staff training on both how to talk to clients, but also WHAT to talk to them about. We were a yoga studio, so we talked about yoga! There are so many facets to that conversation we were never out of content. The best and most relationship building conversations were when a client would start a talk about something not yoga and we were able to relate it to yoga. Can you say rapport creation!
What do you think? Do you take defining positions on the big issues as a business owner? Or do you keep it a little more private?