SoulCycle is the envy of many wellness brands. And it's no wonder: SoulCycle boasts over 10,000 rides a day, 11 million visitors to its website, aggressive expansion plans, and an average profit of $4 million per studio. But its meteoric rise was no accident. The addictive experience and enthusiastic community of staff and riders was the result of meticulous commitment to a vision and the foresight to empower and incentivize its people in the right ways. Here's SoulCycle's recipe for success and how you can follow it.
1. Employees are your most important asset.
SoulCycle makes this cliche a reality. The company makes its staff feel special, with small touches like throwing them birthday parties and work anniversaries, opening each meeting with a three-minute meditation, and providing an in-house physical therapist. However, the real difference comes from its emphasis on staff development. With the help of a leader, each employee gets to create a personal development plan, which gets reviewed and assessed twice a year. This creates a sense of progression that staff can see; and bi-annual check-ins make it even more tangible. On top of this, SoulCycle offers its staff "Soul-U courses." This in-house university offers staff over 100 modules to aid their learning and development. Classes include how to teach on the floor if you're injured, how to build your own media channels, and what's new on Snapchat. The company's most recent campaign, Find It, features instructors sharing what they do to "find their soul."
2. Shout your purpose from the rooftops.
SoulCycle is in the business of personal transformation, not spin classes. It sees itself as a platform to help you uncover personal breakthroughs, with a bike as the conduit. This holistic approach to wellness is more important than ever as people are increasingly hungry to disconnect with their devices and rediscover the best version of themselves. And to be perfectly candid, in a multitasking world, SoulCycle allows people to check off two boxes at once: fitness and mental clarity. As Gabby Etrog Coehn, SVP, PR and brand strategy, says "People come for the fitness, but stay for the mental clarity." Every touchpoint is an opportunity for SoulCycle to talk about personal transformation, not just fitness.
3. Be generous.
SoulCycle creates a consistently generous experience for its riders. Its studios are kitted out with amenities like free gum, hair ties, earplugs. The staff even takes the time to remove the plastic off smart water bottles they order in, to save their riders the two-second hassle of doing it themselves. On their birthdays, riders get to ride the bike on the podium, and even get a free green juice with a candle in it. These seemingly small gestures add up to create an experience that feels thoughtful and thorough, and helps make a $34 exercise class seem justified. SoulCycle also has a team dedicated to customer happiness, which extends the feeling of generosity. The "Your Soul Matters" team gets over a million emails a year, which they respond to within 24 hours.
4. Put your money where your mouth is.
SoulCycle believes giving back is good for the soul, and it doesn't just talk about it. It makes giving back possible for all staff through the Soulteering Program. This program takes two different forms; the first is done for all SoulCycle employees who come together once a year to do some sort of philanthropic project. For example, renovating a cash-strapped school or building a playground. Separately, there is a Soul Gives program, where individual teams get two days off to volunteer at a place of their choosing. Happy, fulfilled staff help with retention and promoting a sense of workplace pride, both of which are good for business.
5. Freedom within the framework.
SoulCycle aims to give its staff enough support so they feel confident and well-equipped, and the flexibility to put their own stamp on things. Instructors are encouraged to make the classes their own through playlists of their own making and their own mantras. Some instructors add their own twist by hosting costume rides and retro rides. As Cohen says, "We teach the foundations but they have to bring themselves to the class. We want them to find freedom within the framework."