Episode 048: Optimizing Your Class Schedule For Max Clients and Happy Instructors

Barry Ennis

Organizing a schedule that supports your instructors, staff, and members is not an easy task. You have to take into consideration their availability, making sure everyone is teaching enough classes

Barry Ennis

Fitness Professional

Organizing a schedule that supports your instructors, staff, and members is not an easy task. You have to take into consideration their availability, making sure everyone is teaching enough classes, members are getting into classes from work or time with the kids, etc…there’s so much to think about! For our studio owners – don’t worry, we’ve broken it down for you. This episode will take you through some common mistakes made when creating schedules and some tips to design the most optimal schedule for you and everyone else involved in the process.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Know your time slots
  • Where to place your star instructors
  • How to create demand throughout the day

Here’s the Complete List of Tips:

– Let’s start at the very beginning. You’ve got to know your time slots. Generally speaking, there are four, and it’s possible that having all of them on the schedule at your studio is NOT going to be the best idea. That could simply have to do with where your studio is located. Is it in a suburban area or a business district? That has a huge effect on when people come in to work out.

– You have the early risers, coming in to work out before they go to work. This class time usually falls around 6-6:30 am. Then you have what I call the post-school drop-off class time. That usually falls between 9 and 9:30 where they people who don’t work a normal job or the parents who just dropped their kids off at school can come in to work out. Then you have the lunchtime crowd. Around 12-12:30 you’ll have people who will jump out of the office to get a workout in during the afternoon. Then of course you have your post-work time slots which usually fall between 6 and 8 PM. These are going to be your prime time slots. You may have other class times before or after, say, an 8 am before your busy 9:30, or a 6:30 before your busy 7:30.

– You’ve got to know who your star instructors are. They are the ones who are the most popular. And that means in terms of class numbers. Sometimes the instructor who is literally the most popular isn’t the one pulling the best numbers. You need to decide who these people are and put them in the prime class slots. The strategy behind this is pretty simple. You’ll have the most members coming in at that time. Let them take class from the instructors that are going to make them want to come back (hopefully with friends!) Eventually that star instructor’s class will sell out at that class time and since members won’t be able to get in, they will find a way to go to the classes before and after that prime time slot. Then, those classes will start to build.

– So you might be asking, well why wouldn’t I put a star instructor at all the time slots I want to be busy? Even a 6pm and then 7pm? Answer: those instructors, both being popular, will pull numbers away from each other. So you’ll have two small classes. The goal should be to get large classes. The energy in a large class is much more exciting and the experience is much more fun than being in a small class. Don’t split your member base into two camps and give yourself smaller classes. They will actually be harder to build. Just give your members a clear choice to make.

– Now keeping this in mind you also want to avoid having your instructors at the same class time every day, or stacked only in one part of the week. You want them to grow a following, and to do that, they need to be exposed to as many members as possible. So you do that by putting them in different class times, and by making sure they’re not only found on the schedule Monday through Wednesday. Ideally your instructors should be teaching classes at different class times, and those should be spread out throughout the week. It’s perfectly fine to have someone teaching a 7pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings. That’s actually great, because it allows your members to establish a routine of seeing that instructor 2-3 times per week, but if you only have that instructor teaching at 7pm Monday through Friday, you’ll hinder them from getting in front of members who primarily come at another class time. If you only have that instructor at 7pm, then what about the members that just don’t like that instructor’s class but can only come at 7? They’re never going to come back.

– Once you set those class times, keep them consistent, so that every single week members know where and when to find them. It should be exactly the same. The only way it changes is if someone is away.

– Be mindful when you stack classes- make sure the overlap is enough time for cleaning to happen and the next class to set up. Some studios can get by with a fifteen minute window between classes, some need half an hour. You don’t want members and instructors to feel rushed at any point- either going in, or coming out. If you have multiple modalities at your studio, like yoga and barre, Be mindful of the modality that is ending. Some classes will take longer to break down when you have to put away with weights, bands, other equipment, Sometimes rooms have to be cooled down or ventilated. This is all important to keep in mind so that you can maintain the very best client experience possible.

– Do not schedule instructors to teach back to back unless they are selling out one of their classes, and they can push members into the next one. So don’t make Jane teach the 6pm and the 7pm. This will cause the same thing to happen where members are split between her classes and she’ll wind up with two small classes. Build your schedule to push members into the classes without them having to think about it too much. Let Jane start selling out her 7pm. Then once she has a waitlist, let her also teach the 6 or the 8. The people that can’t get into the 7 will go to the 6 or the 8, and then both classes will grow to be large.

– Offset class times slightly day to day, for instance, have a class a 7pm MWF, and the same class at 6:30 T,TH. That will allow different members to come, and also allow you to A/B test which class time is better for members. Give yourself the opportunity to test things one at a time. Is it the instructor? Is it the time slot? Is it the modality?

– If your studio offers multiple modalities, this is a HUGE one. Set up the schedule in a way that encourages members to do back to back classes- set up the schedule where they can jump into another class after. So don’t have your cycle class end at the same time a yoga class begins. Have that yoga class begin fifteen minutes after cycle, and then try to encourage members- whether it’s through instructor announcements or your marketing, to get them to jump in to enjoy a nice stretch after their cardio in the yoga class. If you have the yoga begin at the same time the cycle ends, there’s no chance of that. I see this mistake a lot.

– Don’t stack modalities over each other if they’re not selling out. If you have multiple class rooms, Don’t have two barre classes running at the same time! Have one room running a barre class and another room running a yoga class, etc. If that one barre class is selling out, and there’s a huge waitlist, then yes, schedule another at the same time so those members have somewhere to go.

– Don’t have more than two classes at an off-peak time. Three classes at 3:30 thins out a small pool of members across three classes. All three will have low numbers.

– Start class times at times that are easy to remember. If you divide the hour, don’t divide it more than quarters, eg. 6:15, 8:45. Not 7:20, 6:50. This causes members and instructors to have an extremely hard time remembering when their classes start, and then they end at SUPER weird times. I’ve seen this one before. It’s a disaster. Don’t do it.

– Once you set your schedule, don’t change it! Allow it a few weeks so the members’ learn that the times are consistent. Once you have gathered enough data to make an adjustment, then you can make slight alterations.

– Classes at 3:30-4:30 and then 7:30. Be mindful of the instructors. What will they do at the studio for four hours while they wait?

– Color code it. It makes it easier for you and your team to read.

Show Note's Index