For Ken Mayes, the sudden closure of Hudson Yoga in late 2017 felt personal, even though he had sold the hot-yoga studio in The Hudson building back in 2015 in order to have time to support his mother after the death of three of his brothers. As the original owner, he still felt proud of the purpose-built space and the community he had created — so he set out to rebuild.
The Problem: Unexpected Closure
The Hudson Yoga community received a shock on November 23, 2017, when students and instructors coming to a class found a letter posted on the locked front door. It was from Townline, the property manager, giving notice that the studio’s lease agreement with the new owner had been terminated due to unpaid rent.
Hudson Yoga’s official Facebook page and website disappeared soon after. When a number of the Hudson Yoga customers formed their own Facebook group, they scheduled a community meeting and invited Mayes, as the original owner, to attend.
“It became clear the community was reaching out, and that it would be a shame to lose that space,” Mayes says.
The Response: Opening a New Studio
Mayes contacted Townline and worked out a lease to open a new studio in the space, which he called Quantum Yoga Club.
But he knew there were going to be challenges rebuilding trust in the community, and because he had not been involved in Hudson Yoga for years, he didn’t have access to member contact information. Starting in mid-December, Mayes started offering free yoga, with complimentary water and mat-and-towel service. The public outreach lasted almost five weeks. Classes grew from two to four a day, as additional staff were brought on.
“The whole exercise was to simply say, ‘we are moving forward,’” says Mayes. “I was there every day to answer everyone’s questions. My whole thing was to be there and to be authentic. It was really important to be super honest.”
Moving Forward: Regaining Trust
Quantum Yoga Club only started charging fees in mid January, and while initial sales have been strong, Mayes believes it will take a full year to really know if the space can push past the damage done by the interim owner.
“It will take a whole cycle to get people to know that we’re here,” Mayes says, “and to build our brand. Like all fitness businesses that operate on memberships, it’s all about growing trust and goodwill.”
Advice From the Experts On Managing a Crisis
Owner, Rep Lab Communications
“When companies find themselves in the circumstance of having to rebuild their reputation, the best way to move forward is with honesty, and a bit of humility. It’s a time to attend to customers on as personal level as possible; they will be the greatest marketing tools moving into the recovery period.”
VP, communications and corporate relations, Pace Group
“Your reputation is your integrity, and integrity to me means consistency in what you think, what you say and what you do — thought, word and action. The only way to rebuild trust — which is what recovering from a crisis is all about — is by consistently acting in a trustworthy way, and by taking responsibility.”
This article is from the April/May 2018 issue of Douglas.