I own a small gym and group fitness studio that has recently opened. I have two yoga instructors who get paid per student for their classes. They are not gym employees but independent contractors. If no one shows up to a class should they expect to be paid? I want to be fair but I do not want to take a loss on the classes. I want them to have incentive to bring students in, but so far all the students have been gym members. They also get free gym membership as instructors. One instructor has told me that she gets $10 for a class where no one shows at another studio, but that is an established studio that does classes only, where as we have only had three classes so far. The first one, no one came, the second we had two students and the third we had one. Our class max is five, due to the small space.
I think paying per person is a terrible policy. This is basically the 100% commission model. I get it, I get it, you want your teacher to bring people in and have a stake in the class. You want your teacher, who presumably also teaches elsewhere to bring some of that crowd over to cannibalize them from the other studio. Then you want to pay them as an independent contractor as if they are running their own biz, and you are just renting them the space.
My gym does it, but as a bonus. Over 14 people in a class grants a per person bonus. We get an hourly fee, and if the class is empty, we get half our fee.
As an instructing professional, I have costs to cover. Based on 150 classes a yr (3x a week and some vacation)
Yearly certification (Continuing CEC’s, workshops, etc – I’m a pro and take this serious): $290
Yearly private contractor fitness insurance: $250
Quarterly music releases: $49
Gas to and from the studio: $6 per session roundtrip (Unfortunately I drive an SUV and live 45 mins away)
So teaching 3X a week my costs are $10.91 per class. How long would I stick around not getting paid?
I have no control over your marketing. I have no way to comp people who bring a friend. I have no way to offer my own specials. I have no way to change the amenities of your business. I have no control over class scheduling. I have little control over the format (I have some creative control within my category, but I can’t just up and switch from yoga to Pilates or whatever if thats the input from the class)
In short, you want to make the money. This is your business. Putting it on autopilot while not paying people is a quick way to shutting the doors. Finding passionate instructors is hard enough without putting the marketing department on their shoulders too. Gyms are a very local thing. It’s hard to draw outside of your geographic area for something like yoga you can get anywhere. Even my own mom goes to a gym closer to her house no matter how much I beg her to come to the gym I work at. People just aren’t going to drive way out of their way for an hour long class, unless it’s a really unique format. I can hound my facebook friends all day long, but you can’t count on my friends list as being your sales lead list. It’s up to you as the owner to put butts in the seats so to speak. What you offer as a studio, features, and pricing are out of my control. It’s really hard to make me be the one responsible for that with so little control over the situation.
With only 3 classes so far, it’s hard to tell whether this is going to be a successful class or a “no go.” If you have a 5 person maximum, do you consider 2 people to be good, acceptable, or poor (based on what you charge and how much you pay out)?
Since you have an independent contractor, you may not legally have to pay them, but if you genuinely thing that instructor, class, and time have potential, you may want to pay at least a small amount to cover their gas and time. Establish a policy that they can go home after waiting 15 minutes (or whatever you agree is fair) and will be paid a nominal amount.
I’m in a situation like this now, where I have a very small class in a studio that I LOVE, but I’m losing money as a contractor. Paying at least my gas would make it financially neutral for me and “worth it” to stick around and grow the class. But as it is, I have some tough decisions to make soon. Yes, you’ll lose money if you pay the instructor when no one shows up. But, the instructor is already losing money if no one shows up. So they’re getting the short end of the stick.
I’ve been teaching yoga for rather a long time, and have taught in a wide variety of situations. I would have to say… it depends. (sorry)
Currently there are a couple of models used.
In some places, typically where members pay one fee for all access yoga is considered part of that package. In that situation the teacher gets a flat rate per class. This rate is often lower than what one would make as a teacher in other situations, but there are many reasons why a teacher would choose to work in this situation.
The situation of fee per head is the other main model, though there are some differences in how places do this. In my market anything from 4 to 6 dollars per head seems common, though this can vary: large studios, well established studios, studios that run training programs and expect teachers to do some of their student teaching for less/free, new studios….. Also sometimes a studio will pay a beginner rate, and a slightly higher rate for a more experienced teacher who has a large following, or will raise the rate of a teacher who consistently brings in new students. And with groupon or such things the per student rate can be less, as the studio is taking in significantly less (don’t get me started on groupon).
Of course, if the teacher is teaching a ‘community’ class that is different (donation based, to help the community…. very common), or if the studio has a policy of offering a free class to new people, or to those with a special coupon…. I would say then it is more common that the instructor is not paid for that person, though of course, it is a good way to build a class.
Subbing is different. Many places I have subbed have a set subbing fee, though others simply pay the regular per student rate.
As to the question you asked (sorry for trying your patience by contexting the answer with so much information) I have been in situations where I have been paid if there is a no show. I have also been in situations where I have not.
Personally I prefer not to be paid unless there are students. This may sound strange, but as I see it, the place I work and I are in this together…. particularly with a new studio that is just trying to establish itself. if I am offering my teaching to them, and they are offering me the trust and opportunity to teach within their studio I feel we have a shared mission to do our best for each other. I hope they will spend time, effort, and funds to market and I will give them the best I have for anything from one to ninety people.
There are a lot of yoga teachers out there. However you choose to arrange your policies I am sure you will find people whose teaching skills, people skills, and financial requirements dovetail with your needs.