Discussion #3126

Business Questions

25 min - Discussion


There are so many aspects to running a Pilates business which can lead to many different questions. In their third conversation about the Business of Pilates, Cara Reeser and John Marston answer questions on many topics ranging from work-life balance, difficult clients, and so much more. This is very useful information that will help teachers and studio owners in many different ways.
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Jul 17, 2017
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Chapter 1


What do you do when you're clients complain about prices? I say to them, really? How much do you pay for that Starbucks? You've gotten your hand right now and by the way, what can you do? One of the teachers doesn't show up. That's the terms for termination. For me, that was whole attitude. How do you handle clients that body odor, I don't really want everybody to touch and hug me. John [inaudible]. Okay, now everybody's going to steal my ideas.

A lot of people have a really negative attitude and they really need to be doing blogging. All right, we're school in the nation. Now what you do when you have a client who doesn't pay for the session, I mean really people who don't pay, don't want. Ladies,

Chapter 2


I'd like to welcome Kara reset to the office here in Alsigando. Nice. And this is our third time and that we've had a conversation in response to the questions that we get from our members about business issues. Yes. And so I have a quite long list of questions that have been asked sometimes in person and sometimes through emails and sometimes I comments on our various videos. So we've previously, we've answered quite a lot of these in the prior two videos. And in this one we have some additional ones.

So looking forward to going through them with you and seeing what you have to

Chapter 3

Work-Life Balance

say. How do you find balance between work, friends and family? Well, I mean I think that it really, I mean obviously that's going to depend on the individual, right? So a little bit of that just has to know with like, do you know how to know yourself enough to know what balances you? Cause there's no formula for that. Some people need more time with their family, less, some people need more or less time with friends.

So I think really what that question is asking is, you know, if you're noticing that you, there's some grit under your experience with your day, um, you need to sorta check in and be like, you know, what am I missing? You know, I haven't walked in the woods enough. Um, and some of that just has to n it has to do with knowing yourself enough or being able to sort of start asking yourself the right questions about what sort of balances me. Um, I think there's a lot of pressure in our culture to be balanced, you know? And so I also want to make a holler out for like, like sometimes it's just not balanced and that's okay. You know, I think there's a fair amount of sort of like societal pressure right now that we should like always be healthy, always be balanced. Like if you have a cold, you must have done something horrible. You have the sniffles, you know, it's like, okay, like sometimes it's, it's a little bit less balanced. Sometimes it's more, um, but just know yourself and you know, when I'm on a big run, John, and I know I've got like travel up because you for the next, you know, three or four weeks or months, I just look towards a time where say, oh, okay, there's that month coming up where I have less. So I'll just make the push. And I don't think people should expect the each day to be balanced, but rather just to know yourself well enough to when you need a little less or more tool grab it.

Chapter 4

Maximizing Your Income

Do you have any advice on how to make the most money per hour as a [inaudible] teacher? First of all, you know, you need to know what you need to make and you need to know what you can make reasonably as a plenty's teacher. Meaning what is, what does it pay? And there's probably not a lot of magic buttons beyond that, John. I mean, depending on where you live, um, you know, studios can pay certain amounts. I mean, at my studio you're going to make more money if you teach trios all day. So if that's your goal and that's something you need for your pockets, which I totally understand, then you need to figure out how to get three people at once. You know, other ways of making more money is, you know, frankly is about growing yourself professionally. You know, if you want to be a full time career PyLadies person and you need to make a certain amount of money, um, you need to look forward. You know, how will I, how could I move forward in education? How could I become better and more, um, uh, exposed in, in the profession so that I can make warm maybe, um, and then there has to be a path for that. Um, but I think if you're just looking like for, you know, for your hourly, through a studio, you're pretty much gonna see about the same hourly rate across the board depending on where you live. And, um, I think what we all need to be looking towards is, you know, where do I really want to go and trust that monies will be had, um, as you take yourself seriously and work hard and follow your dream. Really.

Chapter 5

Opening Your Own Studio

So one of the questions we have here is when do you know it's the right time to open your own studio? It's not right for everyone to open their own studio. So the first question to ask myself is, you know, I have this hankering, this desire to like run a business, to have a staff to play office. I called it when I first opened mine, like when I was a little kid, I loved to play office was like my favorite game. I'd give everybody pads paper and I'd pretend I was the boss. You know, I grew up for this. I was built for, for running a little business. I like it, but so the person thinking, how should I opened a studio studio is not the next step to being a great is teacher's studio owner is a totally different thing. Um, and you're probably gonna teach plot. He's also, so the first question is, wow, am I, do I have a fantasy of being like a little business owner?

And if you don't, it's not the right path for you. Um, and then there's different ways of having a studio. You could be a solo practitioner and just have this little space. You could work in somebody else's space and have your own little business or you could have a big studio. Um, and I think you have to ask yourself a series of questions, you know, like, do I want to do I like doing, you know, beginning accounting one oh one. Um, do I like managing and overseeing a staff? Do I like, I'm learning how to fix a toilet, uh, when my landlord's not around, um, can I afford it? You know, like we talked about in our other videos, John, do I take out, you know, uh, a large loan to start a little shop? I don't think so. Um, so again, you d I think one of the things that comes up a lot for us with our audio audiences, you know, what's the next step? Well, the next step from, from being employees teacher is not necessarily being a studio owner. Um, the next step being applied to teacher, um, has to be about sort of what else interests you.

And I think there a many things we could look at there besides, um, just opening a shop.

Chapter 6

Enforcing Your Cancellation Policy

How do you enforce your cancellation policy? But Hey, I'll tell you, it's, it's, it's a hard one to learn how to do. And, uh, and I get that to everybody out there who like gives people a break a lot and uh, try not to do that as my first advice. Again, that's about setting boundaries in your environment right away. So I think the number one thing is that it's on your voicemail, it's on your intake form, it's on all your staffs voicemail. If they're independent contractors, it's somewhere posted in the space and you remind somebody of it every time you book them. I just want to remind you of a 24 hour cancellation policy, right? So you just, you just, it's part of the environment. It's not just written down some bottom piece of paper.

You don't apologize for it. That's the most important thing. You do not apologize. It is standard practice in all businesses like ours. And it's an important thing for people to pay attention to. And you know, you're going to get those people who complain, you know? And I think again, it's about not apologizing for your policies and if they leave your studio because of it, you know, we have to let people go sometimes. Um, we don't want to hold so tight right now.

There are circumstances in sickness or kid's sick or somebody's cars break down and you have to sort of be the judge of that. Um, and, and know the person well enough to say like, they never do this. I'm going to cut him some slack. Um, and if you're, if you work for yourself, that's your financial loss and if you work for a studio, you need to have an agreement with your, the owner about how you, how you handle that loss of income. Um, but I think the biggest thing John, is to really make it, make the statement, get it out there and make sure educate your audience and what, what to expect.

Chapter 7

Late Clients

What do you do about clients that are always late? There are always those. Um, we do our best just to remind them to be on time. I think sending a courtesy note, uh, email, text right beforehand. You know, that day you're honest with your clients, hey, I'm going to leave.

If you're later than 15 minutes, I'm not going to be available for this appointment. Um, again, you set the boundaries, whatever your protocol is in your studio, um, but there are always going to be people who are late. So I think it's a kind of a personal choice. And if you have another client that's sort of coming an hour later, do you just give them a shorter class? Yeah. Anybody late only gets their hour slot, so that's it. They know they're only getting a half hour. If they're a half hour late, we often will, if we don't have somebody after them, we will leave within 15 minutes. Um, so 15 minutes is sort of our deadline at the studio.

Chapter 8

Talkative Clients

How do you handle clients that just talk and talk and talk? Yeah, it's a good question. Um, I personally have a sort of way in which I'll say where you can chat at the very beginning and we can chat at the very end. Um, but I will actually interrupt them in this session and say, you know what, we're really trying to get some work done here and the chatting is too distracting. And I just gently remind them that that's not what we're there to do. Um, sometimes people need to take a break because they're tired, especially if they're in pain. So you can take that break and just sort of check in. Um, but yeah, I think you just want to tell people straight up, um,

Chapter 9

Body Odor Issues

this is not what we're here to do. How do you handle clients? And I think this probably refers to men.

They have body odor issues. I'm going to kind of take this question in a different way, which is like to say if I, if I find something very unsavory about one of my clients and they're a longterm client that I know I'm going to work with on a regular basis, I'm going to figure out a way to communicate that to them over time. Um, I'm not gonna make myself suffer. Like for instance, I can't tolerate perfume. So I've in the past had to figure out how to say to clients, hey, could you not wear that perfume? Um, body odor is a really tricky one. Um, but again, I think what we're really talking about here is you, you have a relationship. You need to have open channels of communication and you need to have strong boundaries and do your best to be as straightforward as you can.

Chapter 10

Classes for Clients who Need More Attention

What do you do with clients that want to take group classes but should really be in a private? Well, because we want to make a money at aligned and we want to keep people in the doors. We actually designed classes that are for people who should be in privates. So we have a couple like sort of really, um, hey, I'm not ready for class yet. Classes. Um, so we try to really put those people in those classes to get them started in classes. Um, if somebody is wheelchair bound or really can't get on the floor and really just can't do a class, um, we just tell them that and try to find a duet partner or a trio partner for them. So it's more affordable. Offer them a half hour, maybe discount them if we've got the money to do that. But, um, but actually our solution to that is to try to create classes that are for that group and get them all in there until they're ready for like a real traditional Pleiades class. Can you expand a little bit on exactly what that, um, kind of classes like where you have all of these people that aren't quite ready for group, the normal group class?

Um, now because we come from the Cathy grant tradition in my studio, we use a lexicon of work that she taught. Um, but basically it's sort of more sort of the building blocks of PyLadies exercises. So you're doing a little bit more awareness work, you know, this is how you move your arm. This is how you separate your leg from your pelvis here. You could imagine you're taking the repertoire and she's breaking it down into much simpler bits, which simpler concepts and getting people comfortable with that before you kind of move them into that, that sort of fluid, fluid repertoire kind of material. And it's a really fun thing to create actually. And you can do it with your staff and, um, and you can call it whatever you want. You know, it could be like a pre plot ease or, um, but I think it's a, a good thing to have on your schedule.

Chapter 11

Complaints About Pricing

What do you do when your clients complain about prices? I say to them, really? How much did you pay for that Starbucks you've gotten, you're in right now? I mean, come on. I mean, if somebody's really struggling financially, we will find a way to keep them in the door if we can. But for people who are just like, oh, it's so expensive, I point out that it's not any more expensive than any personal service and that they get exactly what they pay for at my studio. And again, we're not Paul apologizing for our pricing. We're in market and people pay a lot to get their toes done, to get their nails done, to get their body work, to go to the all sorts of places and they probably benefit more from coming to

Chapter 12

Clients Who Don't Pay

the Florida studio. What do you do when you have a client who doesn't pay for the session?

Um, that actually could hardly happen at my studio. Um, the way that we have it set up is the contractors don't get paid if their clients don't pay. So if their packages get behind, they don't get paid. So you can be sure that they don't actually let that happen. Um, and if I get a report every week or so from management at the studio that chose who might be behind and they get a phone call or an email immediately. So for us, we're really trying to keep that on the front end of not happening. Um, but if you are letting your accounts balances build, um, you know, you need to nip that in the bud. And I think being ahead of that is a lot easier than being behind it. So do you take payment before they take the class?

Yeah, we are mostly running, no, we take payment after for individuals, but we walk them right up to be paid. Um, and everybody should be looking at packages and knowing when they run out. We also send an email reminder as soon as a package runs out,

Chapter 13

Clients with Negative Attitudes

you'll open your next session. If you have a client that has a really negative attitude, um, it's always complaining about whatever it could be, the PyLadies could be live. How do you deal with that? You know, I, a lot of people have a really negative attitude and they really need to be doing PyLadies. Um, so again, you're the coach and you create the environment.

So I think you're going to be best at really setting those boundaries about not doing a lot of talking and sharing and getting that person really interested in what you're doing. Um, they'll often break away from that sort of chronic loop of complaining, um, if you get them interested and get them curious. So again, I mean I think it's just one of the interesting things about teaching is to kind of loop into people's, um, sort of habitual ways and kind of pry them out of that. Um, but again, trying to help people not spin off into conversation, um,

Chapter 14

Keeping Up Your Personal Practice

is very helpful. How do you make sure that you have time for your own personal practice? I mean, it's like making time for anything else. I think it's really about how do you keep valuing your own personal practice.

And I think sometimes that can take getting together with friends, um, getting together as a staff, take share trading lessons, um, going to workshops using Claudia's anytime, um, you know, things of that nature. But I think it's less about how do you make time when somebody says, man, how do I make time for something? I really want to turn around and say to them, how do you keep valuing that? Because if you value and realize how important that is to you and to your teaching, then you'll do it. Because really it's personal practice that informs our teaching.

Chapter 15

Teachers Not Showing Up

I really believe that the following set of questions are from studio owners.

So the first one is what do you do if one of your teachers doesn't show up? One of your teachers doesn't show up. Well, if one of your teachers doesn't show up and they don't have a really, really severely good reason, um, I think that teachers probably not going to be sticking around on your staff for very long. Again, I think we're talking about making sure we as studio owners, let our staff know what our expectations are. Straight, straight out when you'll hire them. And for me for sure, you show up, you're early, you're, you know, you're not late. Um, you clean up after yourselves, etc. So I think, you know, there's, there's always moments of an emergency and then you're going to support your staff and you're going to do your best to cover, cover your, your situation. But if somebody just doesn't show up, um, that's, that's, that's terms for termination for me frankly. Did you think the key thing there is when you hire them right at the beginning is you manage the expectations. You said this is how their shop work? Yeah. I mean with, with so many of those types of questions, you know, you want to have a really strong con contract, however you run your studio with or with employees or whether it's with contractors and you want a smart contract that's legally drawn and you want to have a second and third page with like what your expectations are from everything to toilet paper and how that's managed to, to, you know, um, the dust huddled in the corner.

You've gotta tell them what you expect and, and you have to sort of get a verbal agreement from them when you sit down and do that contract. Cause it's funny how if you say to somebody, so did you get this? And they say, yeah, they, they tend not to,

Chapter 16

Too Many Substitutes

it's a little harder for them to screw up that way. So yeah, again, communication boundaries. What do you do if you have a teacher who, who uses subs all the time? Again, we're at that question of like, if you're a contractor or you're an employee, you're probably as a studio owner gonna have sort of a different set of, um, ability, um, with contractors. They really get to do what they want. Um, so if, if your agreement early with them is that, you know, they need to be there a certain amount of time or you're contracting out so much business for them, um, you know, you want to point out to them, hey, this is not enough for us. Or you take classes away from them, let them teach the privates. Um, you know, to try to organize the classes, be it people who, you know, need to make that money. No, don't have other jobs and be there. You've got to orchestrate that situation. Um, but you know, with, with people who are employees, I think you know, that, again, dependent on your contract with them. Um, do you allow for that? Have you stated that in your initial agreement with them, um, because it affect your attendance in classes? Yeah.

There's no question that you get attrition when you have a lot of subs. Um, and people do not show up. So it's absolutely something to pay attention to, especially as you're setting up or re looking at your contracts and your

Chapter 17

Contacting References

agreements with your staff, how you're gonna. Um, set the tone for that. John, what are some good questions to ask when you're taking out the references on potential people that you're going to work with in your studio? First of all, I want to say that everybody should call and get and get references. You know, I think it's important even though even if you know the person you want to ask, know how they behave in the workspace. Yeah. And I think the questions need to be based on that. You know, are they on time?

Are they cleanli? Um, how do they get along with other people in, um, in the workspace? Um, do they follow up like for me, you know, do they follow up on email? Well, are they communicative? Um, you know, you, you want to know how they move through the workspace, how they communicate, how they present. And even if it's, if it's a fine set of answers, you need to know that, that what your expectations are. You know, if you're somebody who expects people to be super communicative, you don't want somebody who tends to lay back because it's gonna frustrate you. So, you know, it's not really about like, oh, are they horrible,

Chapter 18

Competition from Franchises

it's really about investigating more, or is this the right fit for you apart eas franchise studio has just opened right next to mine. How should I respond to that? Oh, well, it's going to happen. Um, and I think that the biggest thing we want to say about this is, you know, hey, what you offer, what you deliver as, you know, an independent plotty studio in your community is a completely different product than that franchise company. Um, so try not to, to kind of grip yourself with fear and um, and resentment around that.

And I think it's actually a place where defining really who you are and how you serve your community and what you guys deliver is really, it's really a cool moment to do that. Um, there are enough humans, um, as far as I can tell driving around Los Angeles, um, t t you know, to fill a plotty studio on every corner probably, right? So flip. So I think the biggest thing is like turnout turned down that like reaction energy of like, ah, and um, really start to say like, who am I and what, what are we, um, and, and really start to define even more and understand even more the beauty of what you deliver and how it's not the same product and it's probably not the same audience either. Um, and, uh, but I, I understand the, um, reaction to that, um, happening. Yeah. Do you think that you should begin the process of thinking about how you compete against separate franchise before they even enter your mind? It's a funny question for me because I think competition is really healthy and I think everybody should be competitive, but not really in the way that you're talking about.

I think that the competitiveness there is to know what you are and who you reach and to really solidify and hold and be open to that community. Not to sort of tit for tat compete. Oh, they have a water bottle, I need a water bottle. Oh, they have a sauna, I need a sauna. You know, that's not what it's about. It's really about isolating sort of what you're, what's special about you and yes, should you run with that and be fierce with that? Absolutely. Because that is your strongest way of being competitive. So if I heard you right, the key thing here is to know who you're serving and what your services, no, who you're serving, how you deliver, what you deliver and, and how to keep that network, um, energized. How to keep your community of customers energized, keep your product good, keep your product good.

That's competitive. Well, thank you so much for your time. I've really enjoyed chatting with you and I hope that you'll come and visited us again next year. Thank you John. Love being here. Thank you. Thank you, Sweetie.

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Patty Hafen
Thanks so much for your valuable insight. I really appreciate it. Sounds like I'm on the right track. :)
1 person likes this.
hi! I'm thinking on starting my pilates studio in a few months. Very useful tips! I have a question for the class managment:
1. How can you work in small group (up to 6 people)? Is better having particular time the class ..or something else?
2. charging them per lesson or per month?
Happy to hear opinions. Love from Greece
1 person likes this.
Dear Maria I think having classes that meet the same time each week on your schedule can be very helpful. We do packages for classes and punch cards this also helps folks come back. Is that clear? Good luck. Hugs.
Jennifer W
1 person likes this.
Cara Reeser learning from you helps keep my product good! xx
1 person likes this.
what do you mean "punch cards"? thank you for your advice
1 person likes this.
Love your approach I find it empowering to be honest - especially regarding the pricing ... no more apologising!
MARIA Punch cards is a reward program. So in the case of Pilates classes it works like this. For every 10 classes a person takes they get one for free. We have little cards that track their visits. This is a common practice here with coffee shops and other service businesses.
1 person likes this.
Thank you!
1 person likes this.
So very helpful! Thank you 👍🏼
Cara can you make a recommendation on a Scheduler for a small studio? I have been using MINDBODY for years but I need to make a change. The learning curve was big in the beginning and normally I am scheduled out for months at a time. I have been in business for a long time since 1996. I also have an older cliente.
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