Behind the Numbers is our ongoing look into successful businesses. We interview studio owners, and the people behind the success to find out how they use data to make better decisions.

Here is our eighth edition with studio owner Marshall Evans of Cat Tilt Studio

Tell me about yourself and your business
I used to be an IT guy who worked in the government until 2010. I was 30 years old and realized I was on a path to early death. I weighed 475 pounds, had multiple diseases, heart problems, diabetes, and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath and experiencechest pain. I knew if I kept going on that path that I was gonna end up having a heart attack at an early age. I decided to change my life so I quit my job and spent about 6-7 months figuring out what I was going to do with myself. I paid a psychologist to give me some ideas on what would make me truly happy. She told me I was a problem solver and gave me some career choices I’d enjoy. I didn’t have time to get another degree! I was surprised to see Cosmetologist. I decided to give it a go as a hair stylist. A year later, I graduated from hair school and starting working at a large salon. I slowly took over administrative tasks, marketing, and IT tasks. I transitioned them from an outdated system to MindBody. I made them a new website. When I see a problem I have to solve it. I then started handling more of the marketing responsibilities. I worked there for years, and I realized that I needed to be my own boss. I met my partner and yoga teacher Marc­-Cristobal Guilarte, and we opened a hair salon and yoga studio together. Neither of us had any experience owning a business let alone two. It is a small 4 chair salon, not big but we specialize in being great at what we do and paying a lot of attention to our clients.

What’s the most difficult situation you run into on a consistent basis?
Cash flow management. We didn’t appropriately plan for funding and operating expenses, and the amount of advertising that we would have to do. Once you are behind or breaking even it is hard to get ahead, especially when you have no budget.

How do you follow up with that?
We Anticipate the slow months and save up extra money for those months. I’m currently working on a new solution to help other businesses do that automatically even when they have never been in business. Stay tuned!

What iKizmet metrics have you found beneficial to gaining insights into your business?
With iKizmet you can visualize and show the teachers their performance over time. That has definitely helped a lot. We use it as a motivational and visual tool. Being about to show them their retention rates in a graph is very helpful. We show stylists how they are doing and post the company charts (and goals) in the break room. Having a visual way to show them is a real help.

What specific data and strategies do you use to gain new members? What about for retaining existing members?
We mostly use Facebook advertising and Adwords for gaining new members. With retention, we make sure people get that personal touch. Four emails, and two personal reaches via phone calls during their trial period. For instance, if a person hasn’t shown up for a while, we have the teacher they have used the most reach out and call them.  We also give a small gift to all of our new clients. A bag of tea and fridge magnets with our logo that we made ourselves.  We had a custom tea blend made and we give it to the clients in an organic paper change purse.  The little things really matter and don’t have to cost a fortune.

How has iKizmet helped your business?
It has saved us time. It takes about 4-6 hours to run Key Performance Indicators reports. If you are honest with yourself you’re just not going to do it. What could you do with 6 hours a month? How many clients can you reach out to? How many people can you talk to?

Do you focus each day or week on how to implement new strategies for growth that would increase those margins?
We focus on having multiple revenue streams. We had a yoga studio space that wasn’t working. We couldn’t control the temperature at all. It would have been an 80,000 endeavor to make it work. Instead, we turned it into an office space that people rent. We went from 3 studios to 2, but it’s money we can count on every month and it helps build the community vibe in the space.

We also focus on the scholastic teaching of yoga. Marc studies multiple hours a day doing cross translational comparative studies of many ancient Yoga texts. Our next thing is making his studies into a course that we can sell online, giving people a level of education they may not be able to find in their local community. We want to do more than just focusing on daily classes and salon appointments. There are many different ways you can make money. My consulting and marketing agency is a big part of our revenue.  Helping other studios solve problems and maximize their digital presence is a lot of fun. I don’t want to take away from our main core focus of our studio and salon, but we make sure we have as many options we possibly can. It’s hard to grow when you have no revenue.  Remember that owning a business is hard work but it is very rewarding.

What are some future goals you have for your studio?
We want to foster a new type of community. We are a very traditional studio. People haven’t been exposed to traditional yoga. We want to teach people that there is more to yoga. We have to show them that it is a physical and mental practice. It’s education and attracting the right people to our studio. We have learned that you can’t be all things to all people. We try to define a market niche instead of trying to go after the whole market.

Thank you, Marshall, for your awesome insights! To learn more about Cat Tilt Studio, check out their website.