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Rapidly Improve Your Business with Customer Feedback

Presented by Brandon Hartsell, E-RYT 500 | Published on: February 5, 2014


This week we present our fourth 2013 Business of Yoga video session release—Brandon Hartsell's talk "Rapidly Improve Your Business with Customer Feedback." In this video, Brandon shares how to elicit customer feedback and use it to grow your yoga business.

Standing 6-feet, 10-inches, Sunstone Yoga founder and CEO and Yoga Alliance® board chair Brandon Hartsell, E-RYT 500, couldn't help but make a presence at the Washington, D.C. conference last year before he even said a word about being proactive when reaching out to clients. In his session, Brandon suggested that instead of just waiting for responses, studios and teachers alike can help themselves by directly asking their clients for assessments.


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Where to Look

Starting his presentation with a quote from Steve Jobs about seeking honest feedback, Brandon cautioned against relying on a limited number of employees or clients to solicit comments. He also pointed out the pitfalls of relying solely on online reviews, as users tend to be overly passionate when they leave comments either for or against a product.

How to Ask

Brandon stresses that through direct outreach, you can collect assessments from your clients in a process that you control. You can ask specific questions, but you shouldn’t limit the questions to what you think you want to know. Brandon recommends collecting open comments too. His common denominator between soliciting reviews and analyzing randomly submitted messages is that all constructive feedback warrants, at minimum, some sort of response. That goes for both workers and clients. "Show your employees and customers you're listening," he said.

Know Your Base

Just because someone tells you something though doesn't mean you have to act. If a new student hoped a Vinyasa class would be as slow paced as a Yin class, that's an issue for the student's personal preferences more than the classes themselves. If you shifted strategies every time a customer offered criticism, it would be hard for your business to generate a profit based on a consistent product. Brandon mentioned that it's already difficult enough to make a full-time living instructing yoga as it is, so a key ingredient for success is to focus on the overall, loyal customer base instead of simply catering to certain individuals.

In Brandon's case with Sunstone Yoga, he offered an example about asking for grades from customers, rating their experiences with the company on a scale of one to 10. For franchise owners, he mentioned that there's also a balance between encouraging competition between employees while still figuring out what is possible for them to achieve. "It's not so much about the competition as it is about the bench-marking," he said.

Consider Different Perspectives

Part of what makes constructive feedback helpful is that it comes from the perspectives of people who aren't you. While it may be inherent for you to believe in what you're doing, Brandon recommended being open to outside thoughts too. At the conference, he distinguished between being a confident "knower" and a willing "learner," saying that all of us have some semblance of both qualities. The learner is willing to not only consider what others have to say, which is the essence of reacting to feedback, but to deliberately ask for advice.

About Brandon Hartsell

Brandon Hartsell is the founder and CEO of Sunstone Yoga; he sits on the board of Sunstone Franchising and is the Trustee of Sunstone Yoga Academy. He is also a board member of Yoga Alliance®. He has been teaching yoga for over 10 years and has nonprofit experience serving on the board of Open Source Yoga Unity.

Eligibility for Continuing Education

This workshop counts for one Continuing Education Non-Contact Hour or one RYS Curriculum Non-Contact Hour under the Teaching Methodology category.


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