Riverbed Yoga, Guerneville
Riverbed Yoga is a small yoga studio located in the resort town of Guerneville, CA (population 5,000). Owner Joan Hawley McClain’s passion is making yoga accessible to everyone and she strives to provide a welcoming environment to enhance both the yoga and community.
Riverbed Yoga offers instruction for the beginner to advanced level student. Specialized private lessons are targeted to couples who want to connect through breath and movement or individuals with chronic health issues who need a session tailored to specific needs.
One of the biggest challenges facing Joan was opening her new business in a town that relies on seasonal tourism. She heard a lot of discouraging chatter from the locals about how difficult it was to keep a business open year round. This same story of difficulty was told to Joan over and over again.
Finding just the right commercial space was also a challenge as there was so little of it available around the area. Joan was also concerned how fellow local yoga instructors would view her new studio.
Joan began working with Paul Bozzo, an advisor working out of the Sonoma SBDC. Paul and Joan met several times in-person to review the business model, develop the financial projections, fine-tune the operational plan and develop a good marketing plan. Joan comments, “Paul provided a lot of clarity and expertise around the financials and really came through on pricing strategy and a great start-up marketing plan.”
Paul also visited Joan at her perspective space to give feedback on the desirability of the location and how best to market it from street-view.
Riverbed Yoga has now been in business just five months and has a total of six teachers. Joan states that the retention rate is perhaps most impressive, “Most of the students who came in first month are still with the studio months later and we are now selling a large volume of monthly memberships.”
When asked to summarize where Riverbed Yoga is at now, Joan says, “Everyone in town warmed up once they saw I was for real. They’ve watch me open early, stay late and sweep the sidewalks. We are currently at breakeven and I’ll probably need to get an additional space by next summer.”
“I think working with my SBDC Advisor Paul Bozzo gave me the structure and motivation to actually implement my business plan”, says Joan. “If we did not work together I think I might still be sitting in front of my computer working on my written business plan. Working with Paul took me to task and give me tangible things I could check off and make sure I’m not missing anything.”