TYA teacher Dee has written to The Ashram with a question about class attendence and advertising, two things that must affect us all. If you have any comments or advice for Dee, and the rest of us, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll post the reply on this site. Here's Dee's email...
Could I put my perennial question again...
‘Has anyone else noticed class numbers drop off dramatically in the 2nd half of the summer term? Has anyone decided to stop a class because of poor attendance? What was your analysis of the cause for low numbers (wrong place/time?) And how did you resurrect yourself? Do you have a timetable for advertising, e.g. do you have a permanent ad somewhere, or do you remind yourself to advertise every half term? Is it worth advertising in the summer holidays or do you find it better to advertise only during term-time when people are about? Have you already advertised for next term’s class? Where? Local papers, shop windows, leaflet drops, any other suggestions?
After a flurry of enquiries (2!) from the yell.com ad earlier in the year, I have had no more internet enquiries and falling class numbers. Lynnie’s idea of doing a leaflet drop in the target village worked well at first, but I think the village was too small to support my class, as people’s circumstances changed and their attendance dropped off, I ended up teaching 2 people most weeks and making £2 after hall fees, clearly not enough financial gain to keep my interest, though the people who did come were super. So I may have to go more urban!! But a leaflet drop there would be a huge task! So any suggestions?
An answer to Dee's question from Swami Ambikananda:
I don't think there's any one single thing that we can do to keep that summer term going, when people are enjoying some sunshine, but here are some things that have worked for me in the past:
1. Paying for a term at a time. Then people have more of a stake in continuing to attend and you are not left financially drained. This is important : money is an exhange of energy and if you're not getting adequately recompensed for your time, you will lose the energy to keep teaching. So, get the money right.
2. A leaflet drop is such a big job. But what about some good posters in a few shop windows or at the library? And check their condition every now and then - if they get tacky replace them - or just use a new, different picture.
3. This one I have learnt just in the last few years - and it took me by surprise! Start you September term (when psychologically everyone is gung-ho to finally start doing that Yoga class they've been thinking about for years) oversubscribed. I know it means it will be a bit of a tight squeeze at first but not everyone comes to every class and then as the class thins out as soon as the sunshine comes, you're not left empty.
4. And this is the most important : let your students know you want them to spread the word. They value your class and they will understand that you can't keep it going without enough interest, so get them recruiting for you. Maybe even offer them a discount for each person they sign up.
5. The surprise teacher : occasionally invite someone who has a different skill to do a class. Not too often - two or three times a year is enough -acupressure, partner yoga, chanting, whatever. It keeps interest going especially if you talk about a good few weeks beforehand - don't spring it on people - make it something they can look forward to. If you trawl around the TYA teachers you'll find people with oodles of 'specialities'.
Hope this helps - you have so much good stuff to offer.
Peace, Swami Ambikananda
Thank you so much for your kind words of advice. There is certainly something there to act upon! Regards Dee’