In a service industry, your most important asset is always your staff, those who serve your customers. If your staff are not talented, well-educated, etc., you will not keep your customers happy and you will not be in business for long.
Most small Yoga Studios are working within a tight budget. So is there a way to pay your staff that best serves both your staff and the energy of your studio?
Paying by student
“Paying by student” refers to paying a teacher based on the number of students in class. In our market, the price is $6 a head. This module is the most detrimental compensation system for three reasons:
- It turns students into commodities: Each student becomes a monetary value. While there are teachers out there who are so clean about money and so in love with teaching AND do not have to teach to pay their mortgage (they have enough money already or a spouse who earns a good wage), for most of us, it is not the case. It is hard not to turn a class into counting heads, especially if you frequently have a small class. Sitting there, with two students thinking, “Really, I just took 3 hours out of my day for $12. I could be home with my kids.” It is very difficult to teach your best with such a feeling in your heart.
- Creates competition between teachers which can turn to serious ill-will. I have even seen teachers who know a student would be much better served by another teacher not recommend the teacher because of the loss of income. Moreover, there is jealously for the teacher who has a great time slot.
- Finally, makes it hard to find coverage for the traditionally smaller classes. Everyone wants to teach Wednesday night but to find instructors for Thursday 10am? Much harder. And that teacher has a hard time finding a sub when he/she wants one.
If you pay by student because you want to inspire your teachers to bring in more students, find a different motivation. If you can give them a sense of ownership, they will want to bring in more people. (You don’t have to officially give them part ownership, simply calling it “our studio” will begin to impart that feeling.) Interestingly, research indicates that money bonuses are not the incentives they once were. The twenty- and thirty-somethings need other incentives.
Perhaps you can throw a party when a certain total number of students is reached, give them all studio t-shirts or a water bottle, a fabulous book, or a party to inspire them.
We need to be creative!
Paying with a Sliding Scale
Pay your teachers a fee based on a sliding scale. Begin with a base amount for a teacher straight out of teacher training. Then go up based on skill, experience, and level of education. I know of only one studio owner who pays this way and her teachers and students are thrilled with the studio. There is camaraderie between teachers. They “share” students, easily change time slots for classes, sub for each other. Everyone is happy, especially the students.
The challenge, of course, is when you are just starting out and might not have the capital to pay that much. Perhaps you prefer the “per student” because you know you will make enough to cover paying the instructor.
I recommend starting with very low pay and get the teachers on board feeling a sense of ownership. Let them know what your overhead is, be honest. Let them know the number of students it will take to keep the center viable and what you can afford to pay them. Also set a limit on how long you will go at this low rate before renegotiating.
Paying a Flat Fee
A word about flat fees; I paid flat-fees when I had my center. All of my teachers were brand new so it was appropriate. (It was back in the day when there were no teachers around. I had to create teacher training to train help!) What I liked about it was my instructor fees were relatively fixed each month so I could easily budget and anticipate the money I needed. What didn’t work was the varying level of experience and skill that began to emerge as time went on. It was then that I realized a sliding scale was a system that felt fairer.
Remember three things:
- You are running a business, but it is a service business and your Yoga Teachers are your most important asset.
- There are other ways to compensate your Teachers besides with money.
- You are teaching Yoga, a spiritual path. It needs to be treated with respect and students need to be treated with respect. If they feel the competition, it will harm the energy of your space.
What have you found to be the best way to compensate your yoga teachers? Which ways haven’t worked well for you?
Experienced Yoga Educator, inspiring Life Coach, Author and Business Entrepreneur, Laura Erdman-Luntz has over 20 years experience in the fitness and wellness industries. She uniquely blends her Life Coaching knowledge and vast experience with Yoga to create programs, classes and workshops that truly do bring mind and body together for positive change, inspiring people to live their most authentic life. She incorporates New Thought ideas into classes and programs on positive living, manifesting and changing subconscious beliefs. She has authored three books: Awaken to Joy, An Inspirational Year, and, recently, Yoga Essentials: Musélan’s Guide to Yoga Poses. Her Yoga training began in 1988 and began teaching in 1992. She has taught over 500 workshops, over 12,000 hours of yoga classes, coached hundreds of clients and has trained over 100 Yoga Teachers at the beginner and advanced level. She has studied with Judith Hansen Lasiter, Jo Zucovitch, Ramanand Patel and others.