Your students expect consistency from your studio. One way to provide that consistent appeal is to retain your instructors and staff. Everyone likes to recognize a familiar face when walking into a place of business, and your instructors can be that face for your studio.
But figuring out which retention strategies work to ensure your teachers stick around is a whole other task. Mindy Porell, the owner of BreatheMoreYoga in Tolland, Connecticut, has found instructors have a lot of the same needs as students, and a lot of the time consistency is of the utmost importance.
“I come from a background of being a yoga instructor, teaching and subbing at various places,” said Porrell. “I know how instructors are paid, how they have to ask for paychecks often, and how they are paid inconsistently. When I took over ownership of the studio, I told them I would make sure they are paid on the first of each month every single month, because that is so important.”
However, Porell said recently she learned only around 7 percent of instructors teach for the money, which meant she needed to look for other ways to make sure her teachers wanted to stick around.
Seeing as how Porell hires her teachers as independent contractors, she knew it was important to drive home the aspect of “being a team” to each of her instructors, so everyone was working toward similar goals and felt connected.
“Every communication with them via email, Facebook or phone, I start off by saying, ‘Hi team,’” said Porell. “It’s not, ‘Hi staff’ or, ‘Hi yogis,’ it’s, ‘Hi team.’ This helps my instructors know we are all in this together.”
But just as you would encourage each instructor to give every student in their class one-on-one attention, you should also be giving the same attention to each of your staff members to check in on their happiness and make sure they know you care.
Porell has meetings with each of her instructors to gauge their thoughts and opinions on how certain classes are going. She wants to make sure her teachers are instructing classes they enjoy and aren’t just doing it to make some extra money.
“What’s the point of having a teacher who’s not happy?” said Porell. “If a class isn’t working and attendance is low, we will have a conversation about what they think is going on — do they think the time frame works, is the style of class right, how should we tweak it to make it different? I do this with each new teacher I get, as well. I don’t want them to come to my studio just because I have a slot open.”
Porell also gives her instructors small acts of kindness throughout the year. On top of giving each of them birthday cards and hosting holiday parties, she also makes sure to reward them on the studio’s anniversary, something she learned to do from a previous employer.
“When I was in the corporate world, I had a boss who rewarded us every time she had her personal work anniversary,” said Porell. “She would take us all out to dinner, and by the time I was in her company she was taking 16 people. I kept that in mind when I took over my studio. Our studio anniversary is in July. We have a celebration for the clientele, but our instructors also get a gift with their paycheck. I give them a $10 gift card to our organic market down the street, along with a thank you card. It’s small, but I feel it shows I care about each of them and appreciate what they do, because without them I wouldn’t have this studio.”
Caring for your instructors can be a ripple effect, in turn making them care more about each of the students who come to your business. “If I don’t treat my instructors well, how are they going to treat the students well? They are the heart of the studio,” said Porell.