As I checked in, the girl at the counter informed me that Mercedes’ car had broken down and the class was cancelled. There was no apology, just a short explanation that the studio hadn’t been able to find cover.
Admittedly, I’ve never run a studio, but I have worked for several and have found myself in a predicament on more than one occasion that compromised my ability to teach at the last minute. For these moments, there is the backup plan.
The hypothetical backup plan I have in mind would come in three parts. First, the obvious substitute teacher list complete with all competent teachers living in close proximity to the studio. I highlight this second part as it seems highly important and often overlooked. Second, compensation for the student’s time when a class does have to be cancelled unannounced (the online checking system at Triyoga still hadn’t been updated by the time I returned home). It would have been a nice gesture for the studio to offer a free class in return for lost travel time, and it would have given me good reason to try yoga again next week. Instead, I’m left with a similar feeling to that of last year’s challenge when I attended the newly opened Evolve Wellness Centre for the first time without the teacher showing up. At the end of the day, it seems like either many studios don’t really know what they are doing when it comes to providing a service, or they don’t really care.
This leads me to the third, and last point for my hypothetical backup plan. The more a studio takes the time to build relationships with students and teachers alike, the easier it is to sustain the business and find alternative solutions in challenging circumstances. A yoga studio should be about building community and a spirit of ‘togetherness’. When the foundation of a positive relationship is fostered, things like securing last minute emergency cover, opening up early morning doors when an employee accidentally oversleeps, or coming together spontaneously in celebration or despair can happen with many hands instead of two.
Things often don’t go according to plan. Cars break down, alarm clocks stop working, people get sick. And for that, a backup plan comes in handy; but sometimes, reminding those people who have been let down that there is a in important and valued relationship at stake can be even handier.