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She Owns It – An interview with the founder of Honor Yoga

Honor Yoga:

Honor Yoga is a non-intimidating, dedicated and purposeful complete yoga and meditation studio franchise with a significant ROI opportunity. The Honor Yoga mission is to provide a welcoming, beginner-friendly, and accessible-to-all yoga studio that fosters support of the community and the environment. This reflects Honor’s understanding and commitment to yoga as a practice supporting physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and community health and wellness. Honor is the only franchise that has a 501c3 nonprofit organization attached to it that makes yoga available to underserved communities. We guarantee that our mission is delivered with friendliness, warmth, and in studios that are built and maintained to not only support health, but also to respect the environment which is essential to all wellness.

Background:

Founder, Maria Turco, has been a turnaround specialist to the health and fitness industry for years. As a self proclaimed warrior against sedentary lifestyle, Maria became the first ever Crunch Fitness franchisee and went on to become a multi-unit developer. Walking in the shoes of a franchisee, she understands the support and systems that are required for success. Having been an avid fitness enthusiast, she went through her yoga teacher training and discovered how, unlike fitness, it provides not only a physical experience but an intellectual, emotional and spiritual one as well. She set out to develop a brand that fosters these elements as well as a connection to self. “It’s not just about moving our bodies,” says Turco, “ but to connect with our bodies, breath, community and self that allows us to achieve the greatest fulfillment and be the change that we wish to see in the world.”

Like many founders, you seem passionate about your business. Tell us a little bit about your background

“I am very passionate about my business, one of my main motivations for opening up a yoga studio was when I was in teacher training, I looked at the fact that there were no yoga franchises and how people were really intimidated by taking yoga. Although the industry was still growing, intimidation was a barrier to entry and a lot of studios were opening up based on passion alone. For example, one might fall in love with yoga, perhaps follow a guru, become passionate about the practice and open a studio but would not have the business acumen to keep the business open. Despite the fact that yoga is still growing by 50% each year many studios were closing. My impetus for beginning Honor Yoga was knowing the tremendous amount of support needed for a successful franchise, I wanted to create a franchise model that would be eco-friendly and give franchisees the structure needed so that they could follow their passion.”

Tell us about the beginnings of the brand?

“I realized the value of the opportunity early on. We opened up one Hamilton and a year later opened 3 more with the intent of franchising. The initial were corporate locations which we used to test the model for between 2 and 3 years before we expanded to additional franchises.”

Talk to us about some of your early challenges when you decided to franchise the brand?

“There were not a lot of challenges because we did thoroughly test the business model first. We learned early on that we could be growing more rapidly, but our priority was (and is) to bring the right people onboard. It is very important that we are selective about who we partner with, ensuring that they are the right fit for the brand and align with our values of People, Purpose & Profit. We feel that our franchisees need to believe in these equally, for example if one might believe too much in purpose but lack business acumen, they will not be sustainable and successful. Conversely, if they believe too much in profit, but lack belief in the purpose element they will not support the very foundation of Honor Yoga or our benevolent efforts such as ou Yamas Campaign. So over time we have gained clarity as to who we are looking for in our partners.”

What’s been the biggest surprise (or challenge?) to you in building this brand?

“The biggest surprise is the amount of people who have embraced the concept of yoga because they didn’t realize how much they needed it in their lives. Fitness has always been rewarding, but when people can connect with their higher self and their community and then come up to me and say that Honor Yoga has changed their lives, this continues to be the greatest pleasant surprise that speaks to how effective this practice is. In terms of challenge, I would say that when a new studio owner comes to our brand, they each have their unique skill set and it is our job to help them build a team and to educate them on the other skills that they need to be successful. To reward a franchise to someone who believes in People, Purpose & Profit and then help them build a team that brings them success, that’s been a challenging yet rewarding process.”

What has been the biggest business mistake you made – and how did you learn/recover from it?

“We discovered early on that our studios need multiple rooms to be successful. We originally built our studios with only one room, however we realized that the need for additional space was necessary. For instance, at times parents wish to practice in one room while their children are in the next room, or to be able to offer different levels of practice at once. Newer studios are actually opening with three rooms, including a main room, a second room for aerial and / or barre yoga and a small meditation room which is very appealing to our members.”

Who makes a successful franchise owner in your opinion?

“Someone who believes in our values of People, Purpose & Profit as well as having experience in sales, marketing and customer service. This business is about marketing by generating interest for people to try a class, then sales is the ability to nurture their enthusiasm in an effort to encourage them to make a commitment to take care of themselves. Finally customer service / retention, is motivating our members to create a plan to stick to. So if anyone has any of these skills in addition to belief in our values, they will have the keys to succeed.”

What’s next for Honor Yoga or you?

“Right now we have 40 units and are in 9 states. Our goal for next year is to double our footprint and to continue to spread the gift of yoga by offering a high quality well-respected yoga brand to the community.”

For additional information on Honor Yoga, CLICK HERE

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