Discussion #4592

Hiring & Retaining Teachers

50 min - Discussion
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Join Maria Leone and Gia Calhoun as they discuss the best practices for hiring and retaining quality teachers. They will talk about the challenges that have come up due to the pandemic and what can be done as studios are re-opening.

Links and Resources

- Independent Contractor vs. Employee Blog

- Independent Contractor vs. Employee Video

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Jun 25, 2021
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(upbeat music) Hi, everyone. My name's Gia, and I'm here with "The Pilates Report." Today we're gonna be talking to Maria Leone about hiring and retaining quality teachers. Welcome, Maria. I'm so happy to have you here. Hi, Gia, nice to see you.

It's great to see you. So we're gonna get started right away with the questions, but I wanted to let everyone who's attending know that we will have a Q&A at the end. So if you do have questions, feel free to add them to the chat, and then we'll get to them at the end. So, first, my first question for Maria is, tell me about your studio. When did you open it and where was it?

Gosh, I opened my studio maybe 25, 30 years ago. I started by buying into a studio. I had already established a private clientele and I had been pushed and encouraged by clients and whatnot to open your own studio. And I was like, "No, no. I really don't wanna own my own studio.

I don't wanna do that." So at the age of 28, I happened to walk into a studio, met a teacher. She was open to the idea of having a partner, and that's kinda how I started. So that was like a very soft beginning of a business for me. Over the course of a couple of years, the situation was originally that she would have a baby and then I would have a baby, and so we would be working moms, and be able to have a business. She had a baby and she deserted me, and I thought at the time, like, "How did this happen to me?

This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me." And I had just bought a house, and suddenly I was then buying the business from her. So I acquired the whole business, sort of very unplanned, but very, very lucky. It was very lucky. Wow. Yeah.

So in your first studio experience, was it just you and the other owner, or did you have other teachers that you had teach there as well? She had a teacher too. And then as soon as I came in, we started expanding and we started hiring other teachers as well. I knew that I was gonna want to expand and not just be just two women in one place. So we began hiring right away.

Oh, great. So how did you initially go about finding teachers? Was it word of mouth? Did you put ads out? What was your initial plan for finding teachers?

Particularly in the early days, it was really tough because nobody even, literally, nobody knew what Pilates was. I mean, none at all. We didn't even say that what we did was Pilates. And because I was a dancer and she was a dancer, a lot of our original teachers came through our dance classes. We knew if people were looking for jobs, we would encourage them to come to the studio, and train at the studio, and offer them some free classes.

And then originally, we even trained those people ourselves just to be able to do like the nuts and bolts of Pilates, certainly nothing close to what's done in a certification. And they would just kind of start filtering into the studio. In those olden days, some of you might remember that most Pilates studios worked with this open space concept, but I don't think really works anymore. So that's originally how we started finding people. Now, more and more, I get to pull people who've come through the teacher training course, but then also through social media, of course, right?

Through social media, we put the word out and people hear about you. And so I have brought people in from the outside also. I actually consider it one of my skills, is that I have hired really, really great staff. Everybody's who's here is here for a minimum of three years, 3, 8, 10, 15. We really don't get change over here.

If you were here five years ago and you walked into the studio, you're gonna see the same teachers here. That's amazing. I've taught at different studios and I've always heard from my bosses that they were always looking for teachers. It was really hard to find teachers that stay. So it's amazing that you've been able to keep people for a minimum of three years because I've always seen teachers going from studio to studio to studio and just flip-flopping.

So it's really a testament to the culture you created at your studio. So we're gonna talk about that a little bit later, but I wanna talk about your interview process. How do you go about interviewing people? Do you have an audition part? Is it just talking to them?

What is your interview process like? Okay, so typically, so there's two different ways that I hire people. There are people that I have met through the teacher training process. That's a little bit different, but I have brought people in that have not been trained here. So first off, of course Instagram, we're hiring.

And then also to all my teachers or any professionals that have come through the studio and even anyone that has come through for teacher training. So a lot of those people are now working at other facilities, and they might know teachers at other facilities that are looking for more work. So we do all of that, right? And then we might get a phone call. We might have a resume, and we always encourage for that person to come in.

So the very first thing is I just wanna see them and I wanna speak to them. And then we will almost always invite them to the studio. I will give them maybe one free class. Sometimes I'll give them five free classes just to kind of see what their interest is, because I feel like they really wanna work here. They'll make the time to come in and be in the studio.

So it's really by observing how they are in the studio, how they carry themselves even coming into the studio. Do they say hello to people? Do they not say hello to people? Are they reserved? Are they outgoing?

Do they immediately bond? Are they confident and say something to the teacher after class? So all these little things. In making a really great teacher, you need a lot of different skills. In the beginning, I just wanna see how they move, how they take instruction, because I know if they have the ability to move and take instruction, and criticism, and correct, ultimately, I can train them to teach.

Even if no one taught them to teach yet, I can train them to teach. So it's a part that, just their skillset and their body, their body awareness, and then the other part of it, which is really a plus, is the personality side of it. It's important that people have strong, that teachers have strong personal skills as well. We have had amazing movers, like people, like on my Instagram, that people just go wild for like, "Oh my gosh. So incredible, beautiful body, what a mover," doesn't necessarily translate to being able to build a clientele and hold on to business.

So it's really those two things that you need to look for. And sometimes also with new teachers, they get very obsessed with these tiny little, making things perfect, and they forget that they also need to energetically connect with a client, which doesn't mean you start talking about what you did last night, but there needs to be like a personal connection. You have to make that personal connection. So personal business, it is not cheap, and so clients wanna feel that. Clients wanna feel that.

Yeah, I agree with that. I actually made that mistake when I first started teaching too, coming from ballet. I wanted to fix every little detail. And my first boss was great, similar to you, where she kinda took me under her wing, and was like, "We're gonna kinda retrain you how to teach, just to make sure." Because I was used to teaching the people in my program, which were all dancers and very body aware. But teaching normal people is different.

So she was like, "You gotta just keep 'em moving. You can't spend so many minutes on little details, because then you you get through two exercises in the whole hour." So it was just really helpful for me in the beginning, I was really young and didn't know what I was doing, but that personal skill too was a huge part of it. So I definitely agree with that. Totally, yeah. Very much so.

I did the same thing a little bit, even with myself, and even in teaching teachers, kinda taking it a little bit too seriously. I come from a dance background, you come from a dance background, so we understand. Any correction, any criticism of my teaching means that that teacher is taking time to give me their knowledge. Not everybody sees it that way. Some people feel beaten down.

So you've gotta kinda always ride that line. Yeah, totally agree with that. So when you do hire someone new, do you give them like a probationary period where they're kinda observing more and maybe teaching part of a class, or are they just given a full schedule right away? So typically what we would do is, first off, give them free classes, and we want them to come in, and we want them to be on the machine, and we want them to be around us. And then we'll say we'll pick 10 or 15 hours a week, and I'll pay them to be here.

And so while they are here, they might be observing, they might be in class, they might be learning some of the front of house, dealing with setting up room and equipment. But I would just straight out pay them just to be here, and to be observing, and to be sort of on my side, observing and teaching them more, a lot more... Because we do offer that to a degree when people are in the teacher training program, but in a very different way. Now we're really mentoring them and shaping them for our studio. So we start like that, and then we also encourage them, "Anybody that you know that you wanna teach right now during this period for free, bring them in." Because the more I can see them teaching, the better it is.

And then slowly over time... Usually, how it happens is someone wants to come in last minute and we don't have a teacher available for them, and then it's like, "Ugh, are they ready? Can they take one of our clients? And then who is that client? Is that client like a very easy person to teach?

Is that a healthy body?" We just kinda begin slowly doling out clients and building their book of business. A lot of how much they're here or not here really depends on if clients are gonna rebooks. I mean, at the end of the day, really, it's about clients rebooking. I hate to say it, but this is not my art anymore. This is my business.

So you gotta get people to be able to resell. Rebook, you need to be able to get clients to rebook. But you're really setting them up for success because I've been at some studios where they just kind of dumped stuff on me and I don't know the culture of the clients, and it takes time to figure out the equipment because some places have different brands that I haven't worked with. And so, it is helpful to kind of really get in there, get to know the clients, whether you're taking class with them or just observing, and then starting to build that relationship, because it is really about their relationship with the client, more than anything. Yeah, they're gonna get a good workout, but you want them to like you too and want to come back to see you because they're spending an hour with you ultimately.

Yes, and I say this to my new teachers too, and this is really, really true. Clients, 9 out of 10 times, can't tell a good teacher from a bad teacher. So they judge their teacher based on two things, how their body feels and what kind of workout they had. and if they liked the person. So if they liked them and their biceps are burning and they feel like their butt got worked out, they think they have a great teacher.

I mean, everybody that I speak to, "Oh I have the greatest Pilates instructor in the world." So everybody thinks they have the greatest Pilates instructor in the world. Clearly, there are a lot of teachers out there that, they're not the best Pilates instructors in the world. So, that's a plus. So you kinda know that even if you're still green in your teaching, most of the clients can't tell. So if you go in there with confidence, and to make a personal connection, and even if the client say you have a very challenging teach.

So, gosh, you know, at the end of that workout, you might need to pull out the ball and just have them squeeze in on that ball 50 times, so that they, the next day, get that muscle soreness. You know what I mean. People do, it's just a fact, they want to feel sore. And some of the work that we do is a little bit more subtle. And if clients don't have that mind-body connection and they're just flying around, they may not get like that physical sensation of the workout.

So the physical sensation of the workout and liking them, and boom, now they think they have the world's greatest Pilates instructor. Yeah, definitely. So I'm gonna switch gears now from your hiring process into going to controversial topic in California, that AB5 stuff. So, are all of your teachers paid as employees right now? They are, and I think in the past, if you had asked me that, I would have been like, "Oh my God, no.

I'm still trying to pay them as independent contractors, and hoping I don't get caught, and hopefully, I don't end up in a bad situation." I've been following this topic for a very long time. And actually, many years ago, I was actually even audited for it. 15 or 20 years ago, I went through that, and I really fought, and fought, and fought to keep my girls independent. My staff, they also wanted to be independent contractors. when I had them as independent contractors, I have to say, I truly treated them as independent contractors.

If you have independent contractors, you don't get to tell them when to come. You can't say to them you don't get to have a day off. You can't ask them to go and run and get you a cup of coffee, or "Can you put all those props away?" You can't do that. So there's a very... There's things that you can and cannot do, and I wanted to make sure I didn't overstep that.

The cost of becoming employees to me, that's all I could see. And plus, I didn't think that my girls wanted to be employees. So, a ruling came in the state of California, which now... It used to be kind of gray. Could they be employees?

Could they be independent contractors? And it really became very clear that in a Pilates studio, you are not an independent contractor anymore. Unless they change things, your staff, they are not independent contractors. Even if they're renting space, they are still not independent contractors. So I decided to just change everybody.

I wanted to be clean. And in January 1st, we changed everybody to employees. The staff, some of them are really not very happy about it because I did take their hourly, their hourly wage down a little bit because now I'm paying the taxes, I'm paying workman's comp, et cetera, et cetera. The plus side of that, and so surprising, it has changed the culture of our studio really for the better, where I feel like when everybody is here, they're a lot more invested in the whole place, and investing. Their time is going to helping everybody in the studio, whereas before they would kinda teach their client and cut out of here as quickly as they can.

That doesn't happen anymore. People are even more saying hello to other people's clients. The whole community has gotten much healthier. I think partially because of COVID, but also I think because of making people employees. I never in a million years would have dreamt that that would be something that was good for me or anything that I wanted to do, but it's been good.

I agree with that. Because I've taught in studios where I was an independent contractor, but was definitely treated like an employee, not the way yours a studio was ran. But I always would have preferred to be an employee, and I was always confused of why I wasn't. And then I taught at other studios where I was an employee, and it was nice because we did kind of share clients, like everyone would work with everyone, and it was never a problem of finding a sub. Everyone kinda knew how the clients worked at the studio.

So I just thought it was a better environment. It was a little bit more connected, Whereas, everyone, when they were independent contractor, would teach and then leave. So I completely agree with you on that whole sentiment. So I wanna move into your teacher training program. I know you've said that you sometimes do find teachers from your training program.

When you are doing the training, are you actively looking for people who might be a good fit and then you wanna recruit them, or do you wait until they kind of come up to you and express interest? I think that we're kinda looking. Typically, I might have my eye on one or two people. Truthfully, the next thing I do is I find out where they live. It's like, if you're not geographically desirable, I am not getting into that.

I'm just not getting into that. So if they're geographically desirable and they're a desirable teacher, at some point, somebody will kind of put a bug in their ear, not me. My studio manager will kinda feel the personnel, like, "Do you have a job after this? We might have a position open up." And then after that, I wanna see that they're very proactive about wanting to be here. So it's a little bit of both.

Because I think a lot of people, when they're coming through the teacher training program, they're thinking, "Oh, I have to wait till I'm all the way on the other side of this and that I'm certified before I could even consider being at the studio," but that's... I have to mentor almost everybody that comes in the studio because they might be great teachers, but they still have... Everything has to be a little bit on the same page here, and that's another plus from creating employees, is that I can have a little bit more control of them and people need to teach kinda Bodyline style, especially living in Los Angeles, how Pilates can run the gamut from really being just fitness on a reformer to being very kind of esoteric and very fine physical therapy movement. So we have a style that we're kinda known for. Some people may not think that I would hire them because they haven't quite gotten to that level and finish their certification yet, but I do, I do hire people out of the program.

Amazing. So I know that you said you have a really good turnover rate where people stay at least three years or more. What kind of things do you do to incentivize teachers to stay? Do you kind of... I know the mentoring probably helps a lot, but is there anything else that you do to kinda create a culture where they wanna stay?

And again, this could be in Los Angeles where the people that I have as teachers are not very business-minded. You and I spoke a little bit about this. I have tried in the past to say, "Hey, anybody you bring in, anybody you sell, we'll give you commission, we'll give you this, that, and the other. We have encouraged people to try to bring in any business. And if you do, we'll give you some kind of commission." People just really aren't too interested in that, at least my people.

I think really what makes the difference is the mentoring and being in the work environment is a big part of it. Actually, the studio is also a big part of it. I mean, you can see my studio behind me. I didn't clean up or do anything for... This is how the studio looks.

And I think when you set a standard, even with your studio about the equipment, the care of the equipment, the floor, the look of the place, people wanna be in that environment. They wanna be in an environment where there's attention to detail and this is my craft. I'm not just here. It's my craft. And when I don't feel good...

When I don't teach well, I don't feel good. So I think a lot of it is truly that. They do know they have the mentoring. And some of you out there, if you own a studio, you may not be the person to do the mentoring, right? I am in the position that I own the studio and I can do the mentoring, but I would suggest to you then perhaps somebody in your business is gonna be the person who's gonna do the mentoring, and then you pay them a little bit more to do that.

So I think that's what it is. There aren't really other incentives. We do do... You would think it would be nothing, but even if you take a look back at my Instagram and some of those little things to music that we do together, so those come about, that we're sitting here, there's nothing to do, and I'm like, "Hey, you guys, let's create something." And that process is so fun, of having music on, and... So it's things like that.

Yeah, it's things like that. We had a workshop here this weekend, and afterwards we had to tequila and Mediterranean food, and it was super fun. It was really, really fun. So I think it's kinda more those things for my staff versus sign up whoever, and you get an extra 50 bucks. Truthfully here, lots of times that'll happen, then they'll forget to like bill us for that commission.

I'm like, "Hey, didn't you bring in?" "Oh yeah, that's right." So I think it's just the community. It's the space. It's the lifestyle here. It's the respect that we give to everybody, and then also that every client has to respect them. I will not tolerate clients not respecting my staff, period.

That's really important. I think that's the majority of it. Yeah. Yeah, so speaking of continuing educations, how often do you have continuing education offerings for your teachers? And is it open to anyone too, or is it just for your teachers?

I get so busy teaching for Balanced Body that I don't have a hell of a lot of time to do anything extra. Anytime I'm doing something that's continuing education, my staff is invited to come. So like we just did this past weekend, it's actually the first time I've ever done it. We did five hours on the Cadillac and five hours on the chair and the barrel. We have these little anatomy workshops that they come to.

We have a professional class, which changes on the schedule, but they come to that professional class, and that's really fun for them too. All of these things are open to everybody. And so, in some ways, in my community, there are a lot of teachers, of course, just teaching from home, just have a machine at home, or teaching in a very small space with just one or two machines, and they don't get the camaraderie or the energy of being around other teachers. So those little workshops attract all of those kinds of people too, so they can get the feel of being around a teacher and other teachers, and just kind of vent sometimes. Yeah, just being able to vent about something that happened with a client is nice.

So that happens during the pro class and sort of during those other little mini workshops. Yeah. No, that camaraderie is really important too, because I've been at studios where I was by myself a lot during my shift, so I never really got to interact with any other teachers. You learn so much just from taking other people's classes and just observing. So being by myself for a bit, I was like a little stifled in my teaching, and then I would take other people's classes, and then have this whole burst of inspiration, like, "Oh yeah, this is so much stuff I could do now." And it's just...

Even just a little class can make a huge difference in how you teach. Totally. I think early on in that transition, before I did end up opening a studio, I did have already a clientele built up and was like, "Well, I would probably make more money if I just started going to people's homes." And so I did go to people's homes for a little bit, but it's so isolating. And then also, the boundary gets a little bit... The driving stinks, and the boundary gets a little bit slippery, like it's very hard.

I mean if someone's distracted here in my studio, I can be like, "Hey, (claps) focus." When I'm at their house and the kid comes in, it's just harder to have that same kind of professional hour, and I realized very quickly, like I will burn out on this so fast. I can't do this. And I like this. I like having people around. Yeah, I like owning a business.

We do. That's awesome. So with the continuing education, do you require it for your teachers or is it just optional? I would say it's optional. I guess I just assume they're gonna be doing it, the kind of people that I hire are the kind of people that are interested in growth.

I don't think I ever... I don't think I would ever say I require continuing education, but we might give some feedback to somebody and be like, "Hey, your classes are looking a little stale, and then, honestly, go to Pilates Anytime. Watch this, this, this, and this, and get a shot in the arm, get excited about something." That's a big benefit that I have also. But even if you aren't a studio owner who is on Pilates Anytime and have that, you could even have yourself filmed and then have that as a resource for your staff, and say, "Hey, I want you to watch this workout, and I want this, I want you to teach this workout, or I want you to..." It's so easy now with Instagram and all the things that are offered online that you can actually give assignments and say, "Here, this series, I wanna see you teaching this in the studio this week." I require that they're constantly deepening their practice, but I don't think I necessarily say you need to have a continuing education certificate from somewhere. Awesome.

So what are the requirements or expectations I should say that you have for your teachers and how do you express that to them? Is it in writing or do you just tell them when you first hire them, what the expectations are? They receive something when we first hire them. They're sort of like the studio rules and then the professional rules. So just in terms of the basics showing up on time and being clean and kempt.

So I'm actually battling right now. Since they are employees, I can decide to have them wear a uniform if I wanted them to. I think it's kinda more professional when everyone has on their shirt that says the name of your business, but it's also kind of stifling. Yeah, so we're struggling right now with what we're going to do. But they certainly have to come into work, looking a certain way.

Gosh, what else? Giving us notice if they're gonna be out. It used to be that we asked them, since they were independent contractors, to try to cover their clients on their own. Now we assist them more and finding coverage with other teachers. Gosh, what other expectations are there?

There's an expectation that they're gonna get certified. They have to compete, Because in the Pilates world dirty secret, and I know it's not just the people that I've trained, I'm taught a lot of teacher training and I have not had that many people come in here and actually test out. So what happens, at least the program that I teach, is set up that you go through the teaching, the modules, that's the actual training. And then they ask that you wait a period of time. So the idea is that you go out into the world, and you get some experience, and then you test.

So you're not... So you've actually had time teaching. So I know what happens is people leave here. They start working. They get comfortable.

They start building their clients, and then they think, "Oh, why do I need to go get that piece of paper? I already have my clients." They have test aversion, and so they never really complete that certificate, which everyone needs to do because you don't know what's gonna happen because... A lot of my staff left and relocated during COVID. And thankfully, I did make them finish that certificate. So now they're in different cities and places that don't know Bodyline and don't know Maria Leone, but they have that certificate.

It's important, just to complete it. So I do require that of my staff. That's very important. I've also met people who never finished. Yeah.

I mean it seems like so silly. It seems silly that I'm saying that, right? But I'm telling you- It doesn't though. In LA... Yeah, in LA, I bet you 50% of the people teaching Pilates didn't complete and do that test out.

Yeah. Yeah, I've definitely known people who never did, and they have full schedules. When I first found out, I was just like, "What?" It was such a shock to me, but you hear about it more and more now, but I do think I agree that it is really important to encourage that. Yeah. We do have one question here from Sharon, and it actually relates to my next question.

So I'll ask mine first. So, have you ever had to let go of an instructor for poor performance or other issues? Oh yes. It's the worst thing ever. I hate that.

It's so awful. And actually, before, as an independent contractor, it was a little tricky, right? Because as an independent contractor, you can't fire anybody. So I had to be very careful with my languaging in terms of that process. Now I can just let somebody go.

So I don't have to worry about any legalities because those of you that still have staff as independent contractors, if you haven't thought of this, the fear is you let somebody go, who's an independent contractor. They're unhappy with you. They call EDD and they try to sign up for unemployment. And the Unemployment Office says, "What are you talking about?" So they kinda, in a way, turn you in. It's not that they're necessarily might be trying to turn you in, but that can happen.

Yes, so my advice is if you need to let somebody go, don't beat around the bush. Sit them down, and I would start right off with, "Regretfully, I have to let you know that I have to let you go. Things have not been working out for us at the studio and I have to let you go." So try not to get into a whole discussion with them where they are then defending themselves. Just the very emphatic about it. Sometimes, leading up to it, if there's a problem like, "Hey, people aren't rebooking, or you've been getting a lot of negative feedback on your classes, or you're not showing up on time." It just happens here sometimes.

"I've told you three times or four times that it's not good to be sitting down while you're teaching. I don't wanna see you engaged in conversation with your clients," things like that. At the end of the day, a lot of it really comes down to whether clients book or rebook. And generally, if I'm letting somebody go, they kinda have a feeling that that is coming. But those of you that own businesses, you know what I'm talking about. Things happen with teachers where a teacher might decide they're unhappy, or they're not getting paid enough, and they are setting themselves up to leave your business and take clients with them.

Sometimes you can kind of feel when that's happening, like there's a shift with that teacher. And so there was one time where I felt that a teacher... I can't put my finger on it, but I knew that this teacher's time had come to an end. And I felt strongly that she was gonna exit. And that when she did exit, she was gonna pull as many people with her as she could.

And it was the only time in my life that I did this, and I said, "I have to let her go before we get to that spot." And I sat her down and I said, "I feel like you're not loyal to the studio anymore. I don't feel your energy is here, and I need to let you go." And that was the hardest one that I ever did because she did not see it coming. I have to say it was one of the best business things that I ever did, but it was also one of the hardest things that I ever did. It's terrible. I don't think it's ever easy.

Yeah. So Sharon's question is actually like, how do you do it? I know you do it directly and right away, but do you schedule a separate meeting or do you just do it when they come in for their next shift? Or does it change- Oh, no. Depending on- I would schedule a second...

No, I would see them outside of the studio and ask to see them, or I'll have them come in. So they kinda know if I'm asking them to come in or if I'm saying... Everybody in my staff now, whenever you put in, like, "I need to talk to you," everybody panics. So I always say, "I need to talk to you. I wanna give you some feedback.

I need to talk to you about schedule." I try to always put in there why I need to talk to somebody. So if you get a text for me that says like, "I just need to talk to you," and it doesn't say, it means that there's really a problem. So yeah, I wouldn't have them just show up for a shift and then take them outta here. I would have them come to the studio at a time that's quiet and sit down, and then immediately deactivate their key card, and do everything right there as clean as possible and make sure they can't get into our software. Yeah, and then leading up to that, do you give them warnings or...

I know some places they'll give you like three chances to kind of work on something before they let you go. Do you have any kind of rule with that or is it just when you feel it's time you just let them go? I think it's definitely something more from my gut. The other thing that happens in a Pilates studio though is, in general, if someone's not working out, clients aren't booking them, right? So, also the teachers that aren't doing their job, suddenly, their schedule is getting shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter.

Because in that moment that they're out that day and we booked them with somebody else, then that client wants to stay with that trainer. Right? So usually it kinda happens organically where we're not able to book them and we're getting some negative feedback. I mean it is hard to find good staff, so I prefer it. I try to mentor them through that, particularly if I know there's something personal going on with that teacher.

But at the end of the day, it's kinda obvious really. It becomes very obvious. That's been my experience that it becomes very obvious. Yeah, no, it totally makes sense. I wanna remind everyone, if you do have questions, feel free to add them to the chat.

We're gonna start answering them again. My next question for Maria is I've seen a lot of teachers leaving studios just to teach on their own. have you found that to be true, and has that changed your approach in finding teachers? I kinda know that to make a decent living as a Pilates instructor, you need to have multiple kind of revenue streams. And what I mean by that is...

I should also say I am able to hold teachers, but I am not the highest paying gig in town. People can make more money per hour working other places. So it's not always about what you're paying people to keep them, but I assume that teachers will be working here and then trying to cultivate a home client or two home clients, or teaching maybe in a few different scenarios. And also for me here, I try to give them the opportunity to make more money. So in our groups, number one, if you're given a group to teach, that's already an opportunity for you to make more money, and we pay per head.

So it's in that teacher's best interests to get their groups full. I also allow them to. I pay them very differently if they bring in their own client. So I talked before about like giving them a commission if they send a client here. So a teacher sends a client and they may not work with that person.

They might go into groups. But if you work for me, Gia, and a friend of yours wanted to take private sessions with you, then we would flip the hour. You would get paid much more for that hour. So I find that having pockets of time where they can earn more. And yes, I'm very aware of...

I'm very upfront with teachers in the very beginning, that clients at Bodyline stay at Bodyline. Clients that you meet from clients at Bodyline are Bodyline clients, and clients that you meet on your own are your own clients. And I try to make that as clear as I can, and I've been lucky that most people have honored that. Most, not at all. Aside from the one that you let go before, she was able to do that?

Have you had any experiences with people coaching your clients as teachers? Yes. Yes, I've had at least two very bad scenarios where someone... You think I would have learned the first time, right? But I didn't.

Because I trust people too much, I trust everybody too much. Where somebody left and took our Rolodex and even left with another teacher. Oh, wow. And opened up her own business not very far away from here. They closed her during COVID.

So. (chuckles) Karma. So with that, I wanna go into, are there any mistakes that you've made that you wanna share with our attendees as like a cautionary tale that can prevent them from making the same mistake? Hmm. Any mistakes that I've made?

I hold on to people too long and I allow my personal feelings for them to get in a way, And I tend not to think of things from a business point of view strongly enough as I've gotten older. Except for that one time, I remember I did that, that one time I made a business decision. So that's really hard for me, is separating it out. And I hold onto people way too long. And I think, oh, they're loyal, they're nice, they'll do anything for the studio.

But at the end of the day, they're teaching isn't great, and I've given them the feedback. So that is one thing for me. I don't know if quite learn, but to go with your gut. I mean you know when something's not working out. And just because they're a nice person and you liked them, ultimately, you're not really helping them either if you're...

They're gonna learn more from being let go. I would also like to say that I've been let go two times in my life. Not as a Pilates instructor, but doing other things. And it's a really good learning experience. Yeah, no, it's definitely kinda...

For the right person, it'll feed your ambition and it will make you wanna do more and try harder to make sure you're not let go the next time you have an opportunity. So, I do agree with that. Yeah. So, we don't really have any questions from the attendees, but my last question for you is, do you have any advice for studio owners who have trouble finding or keeping instructors at their studio? Builds a community, make your studio beautiful, make it a nice place to be, speak with everybody with respect, and do provide ways for your teachers to continue to learn, whether that is you finding things online and sending them to them, and saying, "Hey, I want you to watch this." Whether it's one teacher in your business that has a different skillset, that is you're paying a little bit more to go ahead and really mentor that person, whether you're bringing people in from the outside to teach little workshops at your studio that you're paying for, whether it's saying to your teachers, "Hey, here's some workshops around town.

I'd be happy to pay half of it or pay a portion of it." But that's really what keeps my teachers here, is the quality of the teaching and the community that we have built around us. So I would encourage you to try to do that as best you can, and then do have your people sign a non-solicitation agreement, even though it's not gonna really help you, but you hope that it's going to hold off anybody from doing something they shouldn't do. Be very clear at the top when you when you bring them in about whose clients are whose. Yeah, and try to make it a fun workplace. Try to have fun here and there without being silly.

Try to have something in their workday that is a little bit fun for them. That's wonderful advice. I love all of that. And where can everyone find you, Maria, if they wanna take a class from you or reach out to you? Studio name is Bodyline.

Currently, we're offering all of our groups virtually, which has worked out really well. So you'd be on the desktop right here, and you'd be seeing my studio right like this. And I'd be teaching here and teaching to you. So I'm also on Pilates Anytime. So bodylinela.com, and then you can find me on Instagram.

Once you come into the studio, you'll get everything about all of our workshops and I teach Balanced Body education for those of you that are still looking to have your teachers trained or looking for some more teacher training. Thank you so much again for being here and thank you to everyone attending. This video will be up on the site in a few days. So if you need to refer back to it, it'll be up on the site, and you can always leave comments there and we can get back to you with answers as well. Thank you again, Maria, and we'll see you next time.

(upbeat music)

Comments

1 person likes this.
I had the pleasure and privilege of working for Maria at Bodyline for about 17 years!  She took me "under her wing" before there was any Pilates Certification.  I took her first mat certification course (when she was VERY pregnant with her son, lol).  I am forever grateful to Maria for inspiring me to be the Pilates instructor I am today!  Love you Maria!!!

xoxo
Amy
Such a great interview! Thank you ladies for taking the time to do it 🌸

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