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After the development and communication of core values, stakeholders’ satisfaction ranks first, according to Tom. Studio owners and teachers alike can always improve relations with colleagues, students, and the community at large—these stakeholders’ wellbeing is essential to the structural integrity of any organization.
Tom dismissed the commonly held view that financial incentives contribute most to employee satisfaction. “Don’t ever forget that we live for the first 18 years of our life trying and doing so many wonderful things and finding things that fascinate us and putting a huge effort in and never getting paid a dime for it, so most of the rewards [for work] are actually not as immediately financial as people think.” Rather than increase financial rewards, business owners should ensure that employees value their work, enjoy the challenges they face daily, and love—yes, love, Tom stressed—their co-workers. These factors, more so than financial bonuses, determine how much enthusiasm an employee brings to work each day.
Studios can improve their business by improving the student experience, as well. A yoga student himself, Tom challenged studios to cultivate an atmosphere of shared learning and adventure among students, which he experienced on a retreat but finds yoga classes often lack. The studios with the highest returns will be those that anticipate and remove the obstacles that could prevent a student from attending a class. Tom also recommended that studios provide money-back guarantees. Whether offered in full or in part, rebates signal a studio’s confidence in their service and reduce for students any risk associated with registering for classes.