When put in the pretext of organised retail, the yoga segment is still fragmented. In an exclusive interview, Yashwant Saran, Founder & M.D, 136.1 Yoga elaborates...
What was your vision behind 136.1 Yoga Studio?
136.1 Yoga Studio was incepted in 2010 to make the experience of yoga available to people from all walks of the society. My job as a management consultant gave me the opportunity to witness growth in different aspect of fitness industry. It was then I realized the potential of yoga. I felt that the time was ripe to start a unique footprint to serve the community. The vision was an eclectic blend and a fusion of traditional yoga in a modern environment. So, there has to be a fusion of tradition and modernity without diluting the essence of yogic system. Second was a retail consumer model in the yoga space. And the third most important thing was to find a balance between business of yoga and practice of yoga. These were the three clear objectives with which we started.
When did you start franchising?
We started franchising in early 2015, but still have not completely changed gear into franchising. We are still fine tuning it. Some of the centres are doing well for example our franchise centre in Ahmedabad. Some are not doing well. The learning process is on.
Franchising keeps the cost of acquisition and the cost of investment low. It offers tremendous opportunity to become entrepreneur especially for women. 80 percent of the yoga practitioners are women in India. The speed of growth if executed right is much higher.
Typically, what kind of problem do you face while franchising?
The biggest problem is trying to get consistency and standard in the teachers. So, it is crucial for the success of franchising which depends on how we are able to produce good teachers to the franchisees. However, there is no dearth of yoga teachers in India and abroad who would love to come to teach in India. The second biggest hurdle is to find the right location. Also, people’s receptivity towards yoga is a little lower in India right now as compared to other countries.. As a result we have decided to expand our franchisee outside India. We are looking at both horizontal growth and vertical growth. Horizontal growth is the number of studios you open and vertical growth is in each studio you continue to growth 25-30 per cent each year. In India there is tremendous opportunity. But, monetising this opportunity and the tussle between business of yoga and practice of yoga have to be balanced. . In India we are trying to see how best to optimise.
Your criteria to choose the right franchise partner.
The prospective investor has to come with a very strong entrepreneurial zeal and the keenness to grow in the health and wellness sector. Not necessary passionate about yoga, but passionate about entrepreneurship. The yoga part is our job.
What training and support do you provide to your franchisees?
We take care of everything from start to finish. We provide the teachers and manage the studio. There will be eight to ten teachers out of which 3-4 will be from abroad. . And the rest will be local. The location is always decided by us. So, once we find out the location, we rollout the execution plan. Step one – selection of teachers, training the teachers, staff training. Step 2 – construction of the studio. We select the design and leave the execution part to the franchisor. We are very particular about the look and feel of the studio. Step-3 – We start the pre-sale marketing and social media marketing. We educate the partner about the demographic and typographic of the target customers as a part of the training. Then after the launch of the studio, we focus on the day to day operation of the studio.
Please elaborate on your marketing initiative?
Marketing of the studio is done on multiple levels. Most of it is done on social media. Then we do marketing in the local market where we do a lot of events, promos, cross promos, workshops, road shows within a radius of 2-3 kilo metres to create enough buzz so that the lead generation and footfalls are addressed.