Whose Clients Are They Anyhow?

May 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm 21 comments

Francoise de la Renta leaving Joe's Studio...this is the actual front door of his 2nd floor place on 8th Avenue, NYC. Photo from Corbis.

(Photo: Francoise de la Renta leaving Joe’s Studio…this is the actual front door of his 2nd floor place on 8th Avenue, NYC. Photo from Corbis.)

This is a touchy subject…so sit yourself down and let’s go for a ride…

Studio or You?

Who has “ownership” of the clients you work with everyday?  The studio or you?

This is a major source of stress in studios across the world.  Studio owners work very hard to market the studio and build up a clientele. Those same owners don’t teach all of the clients…they hire other teachers.  However, the studio is supporting the ability for teachers to work, giving a place for clients, provide subs when teachers are absent…

Teachers work very hard to satisfy the needs of the clients, build a great relationship, help those clients achieve their goals…

This is how it’s supposed to work.  Studio brings in clients.  Teachers teach clients.  Studio pays teacher a competitive rate.  Clients are happy and take a lot of Pilates.  Studio gets paid.  Teacher get paid.  All are satisfied.

But here’s where trouble enters the picture:

You get a job at a studio, make yourself available for a shift of 4, 5, 8 hours of teaching 2, 3, 7 days a week.  You look at a schedule and hope it fills up.  If it does you are thrilled that you can pay your rent, if it doesn’t you are upset that the studio hasn’t gotten you enough work.

You work with each of those clients 1 to 3 times a week maybe for years.  You develop a very special relationship with those clients…it has its own sort of intimacy.  You know a lot about these people’s bodies, minds…personal, professional.  They know a lot about you.  Likely too much (a topic for another article).

Then…for whatever reason, you decide to move on from that studio where you’ve been quite busy with clients.  You want your own business.  You know that you can either rent space at another studio or open your own…but who is your clientele going to be?

Many teachers want to take their current clients that were set up by the studio they were working at.  They say “but I’ve been the one who has spent day in and day out with her…she’s coming to Pilates for me!”

But whose clients are they really?

They are the studio’s clients.  They are not yours.  You are an employee or an independent contractor…but the client is the studio’s client.  That is, unless you’ve signed an agreement that the client is yours and you can go wherever you please with that client.  However, usually, most studios would ask you to sign a different agreement that states that you cannot.  And even if they don’t ask you to sign any such agreement…the truth is…the client came to the studio for the reputation of the studio…not for you.  Out of convenience (good schedule, price, etc.) and most often a genuine connection to you, they have stayed, but it was pretty-much happenstance that they got to you.  They came to the studio.

Yes, yes…you have invested in that client…but you were paid for your investment in the agreed upon hourly wage.

If all of this is true, and it is, why do many teachers take their studio clients away from a studio as though they are their own private clientele?

What is a true private client?

A true private client is someone who you found outside of the studio…or who found you.  Word of mouth, your website, your advertisement, etc…but they weren’t set up by a studio for you.

Recently, a wonderful studio owner came to me with a horrid situation.  An employee left her studio with 15 or more of her clients.  Went to rent space at a studio 2 blocks away.  Just before she left, she had appropriately discussed she was leaving and eye-to-eye said that she would never take any clients.  Well…that was a bold-faced lie.  Because she did.

This lovely owner reached out to me to ask if I would talk with the owner of the other studio…maybe the new studio would stand up for studio owners all over the place (and at least her) and perhaps not take this person on as a renter with legitimately “stolen” clients.  I did reach out to the other studio.  Alas, after no response for weeks, that other studio owner wouldn’t relent.  Of course…she wants the income from the renter no matter where that income comes from.  I “get it”…but somehow it’s all wrong.

Industry Standards – Creating a Culture

This business of Pilates is still so very new.  We have to be the ones to start setting “industry standards”…and they should be awesome!  I mean smart, honest, transparent, kind, healthy.

You ask “how can a studio turn down a teacher who walks in with 15 or 20 rentals a week?  That’s a huge amount of money to turn away!”  I say “you must”!  This is a very small community.  When a teacher comes to you who has been working at a studio that you know full-well doesn’t do rentals, but she comes to you with 15 or 20 or more a week…you’ve got to question where it comes from!

Now, when I opened my own studio, I opened it with a full clientele.  How did I do that?  I built up my clients renting space at studios across the area for years until I had enough to open my studio doors at full capacity.  When I left the studios I was working at only one of them did I have any “studio clients”.  Maybe a handful of sessions a week.  Otherwise, at that studio, I was renting 20-30 or more sessions a week.  So…when my clients who were studio clients asked where I was going.  I simply said this “I cannot tell you where I’m off to or invite you to come with me.  You are a client of this studio.  While I’ve loved working with you, I must withhold this information because it’s been my privilege to work with the studio’s clients.  If 6 months down the road you end up finding me on your own, then I will welcome you into my schedule, but I cannot invite you to join me now.”  That’s that.

Did I want to bring those people?  Of course!  Did I get accused of “stealing clients” by the studio owner?  Of course!  But I did not steal any clients.  One client demanded that she come.  She spoke with the studio owner and I believe if I remember correctly it was a horrid conversation.  I tried to persuade that client to stay at the current studio…but she was strong willed.  She lived a 5 minute walk away, saw me moving into my new space and became the only client that was from another studio in my new studio.

Creating A Responsible Community

Now, what can do to create a responsible community of teachers who respect that a studio client is just that: the studio’s client?  We have to make some serious changes in thought and action.

1 – Studio Owner and Manager responsibility and connection to the client:  we think the issue is the teachers who “steal” clients and the teachers think that they have done the hard work and are the reason the client is there or still there. A big part of the equation is that the client.  The client needs to feel an allegiance to the studio…not to the teacher.  It doesn’t happen automatically…it’s just like a child to a mother.  It’s imprinting.  We have to consider who the client is imprinting to…who is the “mother figure”?  (And this applies to men, too…this is not sexist.)  It’s the studio owner who has to be the leader, mother figure, relationship partner…the teacher has to be secondary (though utterly important).

What does this mean to the owner?  S/he must be involved.  Very involved!  S/he has to be around…a lot.  Personally interact with each client.  Be up to date on the client’s progress, challenges, injuries, etc.  That means that owners have to sit down and talk with teachers, be around to see clients, drop an e-mail to a client to connect (newsletters are not enough…personal emails from time to time.  Just pick one client a week and send a note that connects you both together) and…teach.  Owners don’t have to teach all of the time, there are different responsibilities that are part of owning…but they need to be the substitute teacher on-call…which is a great way to get around to all of the clients.

Managers have to be part of the equation, too!  They need to be out and about on the floor, too, seeing what’s really going on.  Spending quality face-time.  Get out of the back office and interact.

2 – Studio Owner Connection to the Teachers:  The teachers need to feel supported, necessary, welcome and compensated properly.  They need to know that the benefits of being in the studio far outweigh the idea of being elsewhere.  So, that means the studio has to work hard to pack their schedule.  Whatever it takes.  You must invest in the your teachers!  And then you have to make sure that you’re paying your teachers appropriately.  How do you know what the going rate is?  Well…you ask around.  Nowadays there are plenty of forums to chat in if you don’t feel comfortable asking a fellow studio owner.  Just ask within a forum and see what relative percentage is being paid from price of session to hourly pay.  Make sure your pay is competitive.

Then…give your teachers raises before they ask for them.  If you feel that it’s possible based on the numbers that a teacher brings in…give them a bonus or raise or some extra special something.

And studio owners need to spend time with the teachers.  Have one-on-one meetings, ask about clients, have staff meetings and connect with your teachers.

Be on the floor…be out there teaching!  Teachers want to feel that owners understand the hourly grind.  Again, owners have additional responsibilities to hourly teaching, so can’t teach as many hours, of course, but some is very important.  At least subbing.

When teachers feel fully supported, they don’t feel the need to leave.  If they are satisfied, paid well, appreciated…why would they go elsewhere?

3 – The Discussion:  Whether you wish to have a verbal contract or a written contract, you must talk about the teacher/client/studio issue.  Why not say something like “Please remember that the clients we book you with are “studio clients” and not your own clients.  I recognize the deep bond that builds between client and teacher, but please remember that the client came to the studio, not directly to you, though you will be doing your job which is to serve the client and the studio…and we will pay you handsomely for that.  If there should come a day when you wish to leave this studio, remember that you are not to take any studio clients with you.  If you find that you must for some odd reason, let’s discuss and we’ll set up a referral fee situation where you can “buy” the client.  25% of the yearly income the studio makes off of that client.”  (That’s just one thought.)  But no matter what…this issue needs to be discussed at the very beginning…and then when there is that news that the teacher is leaving…it needs to be discussed again.

A lot of owners don’t like the confrontation of it all…but that’s part of having employees and owning a business.  It’s all about confrontation.  That doesn’t mean it’s a hard or harsh confrontation…it just means a direct conversation about something that might cause trouble if left unspoken.

4 – Clients:  Right from the get-go, tell your clients when they schedule that they need not stay with one teacher…in fact, you support them taking with multiple teachers.  That the studio wants to give them all that they need…and one teacher is not always the way to go.  So, when scheduling, encourage them to pick a time and day that work, not a teacher.  And make sure that teachers have a way to communicate what a client has and hasn’t been doing.  A card system that simply states what their ailments are, what exercises they do and what date they started each exercise will do the trick.

If you need a card and want to see how I used to do it at my studio…just ask me…I’ll post it!

In my former studio, I used to say “You can schedule with any teacher at any time.  All of our teachers will always know what you’ve been doing so they can always move you forward.  It’s great to move around to different teachers so you can get the benefit of different eyes on you!”

5- The Teachers:  Lest you thought that I think the responsibility is solely on the owner…it’s not!  No matter what it’s not OK to take the clients you’ve been working with at a studio and transfer them to another if you decide to move.  And what do you think you’re getting from it?  More money?  Well, you’ll be burning a major bridge with the studio, you’ll have to pay rent on that client, when you need a substitute teacher, you won’t have anyone to go to…what can you provide singularly that the studio cannot do better?  Nothing.  So…get your own clients…not the studio’s!

Now, there are rare occasions where you might teach a studio client elsewhere every once in a while.  Especially the more well-known your are in the business, you will run into your clients from one studio across the world.  If you teach in multiple studios, you might find your client takes sessions at a studio with you near her home and then near her office.  I have had this several times.  It was happenstance because except when I had my own studio, I always taught and do teach at busy studios that were well-known.

You just must tread carefully in and around.  Think carefully about what you’re doing.  Your job is to help people.  You help yourself by being straightforward and taking care of your promises.

OK…quick, dramatic story I heard many years ago.  Is it truth of fiction?  I don’t know, but I do know this woman who is the subject of the story and I wouldn’t put it past her!  (No…I will not name names!  You know me better than that, by now!)  This Pilates instructor (She is an instructor not a teacher in that she doesn’t really understand what she is doing or why) who is really well known apparently took the entire database of clients past and present from a studio in Los Angeles (which studio…I will not tell you!).  Then she proceeded to call them all and try to get them as clients.  Some sort of battle ensued, of course, the extent of which I’m not totally sure.  Was she prosecuted?  I don’t know.  P.S.  This lady fakes her own death, changes her name…and is still at it!

What a story!

With that…let’s just be conscious teachers…know your place…think about others…consider what you’re doing as a teacher, as a studio owner and make wise choices.  Create a culture of help in this community.

*****Thank  you, as always, for taking time to read this entire article!  I’m always interested in your thoughts, comments, questions, etc.  Please write a comment here.  If you have any topics that you’d like me to write about, then e-mail me them at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and while it might take me a while, I will write about it!

Please take a look at the workshop, session and consultation information below!  And…if you’d like to advertise on the newsletter and/or be part of the blog (see the sidebar), let me know and I’ll send you information.  In fact, if you’d like to get my newsletter, e-mail me with your e-mail information:  info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

Thank you!!!*****

Workshops:
Register early and bring your teacher friends for workshops that exceed your normal expectations.  It’s time you really got what you need from workshops…I work to provide!  Your time and money are precious.  Let’s give you what you need.

See full details below for:

New York, NY – May 19
New York, NY – June 9 – Please note that this date just changed to June 9
Chicago, IL – June 15 & 16
New York, NY – July 8
San Francisco, CA – POT- July 14 & 15 – see discount info
Hamburg, Germany – August 4
Sao Paolo, BRAZIL – early Sept.
Boston, MA – POT – Sept. 15  – see discount info
Sweden (in the works) – mid-Oct.
Iasi, ROMANIA – Oct. 26-28
Madison, CT – Nov. 11(and more to follow!)

May 19 Real Pilates – New York, NY

Small Ball with Shari Berkowitz 

3-6pm

3 PMA CECs (pending)

No Reformer? No Cadillac? No Studio? No Problem! You can use the small ball in nearly any space that can fit a person. Its versatility is remarkable as a bio-feedback tool for your clients, working sometimes like a magic circle, other times like a small barrel and even like a teacher’s hand. Learn how to make this piece of equipment focus, deepen and enlighten your practice. Too often, our props are just that–toys, distraction, fluff. Learn how to bring your students to a new threshold in their practice using this light, portable and economical tool!

For registration information and pricing, go to:  www.realpilatesnyc.com or call 212.625.0777
June 9 – (please note that this date is updated) re:AB – New York, NY

Back Issues:  Coccyx to C1 
2:30p-5:30p

3PMA CECs

With 24 moving vertebrae, discs, muscles, ligaments tendons and nerves…there are bound to be problems from time to time.  Some severe, some minor, but all painful and annoying.  In this workshop, we’ll work to understand the most common conditions of the back including herniated discs, L5-S1 issues, SI trouble, scoliosis and weak necks and how to address them with Pilates.  Bring your questions and basic understanding of the anatomy of the spine and pelvis and an open mind!

For registration and additional information, contact Emilie at center@reabnyc.com


June 15 & 16 Body Endeavors – Chicago, IL

Workshop Times and Content TBA – Stay tuned for more information!  There will be PMA credits attached to everything that we chose to do!

July 8 Form Pilates – New York, NY

Time and Fee TBA

BioMechanics:  How Our Bodies Really Work and How to Cue That Reality – 6hrs

6PMA CECs

While your physical intuition is an important asset in teaching Pilates, intuition is not enough. To sincerely take care of your clients, you must know the truth of how the body works.  Cue the reality, not the myths or mistakes. Being a confident teacher depends on it…demands it.  We’ll work to understand the biomechanics and functional anatomy surrounding the pelvis, spine, shoulder girdle and how to apply this information to your teaching.  Knowing and understanding is the only way.

To register or for more information, contact Lindsay at formpilates@yahoo.com

 

July 13-15 in San Francisco, CA – Pilates on Tour 

Saturday, July 14 –

Morning Mat Class – 1hr

Beyond The Everyday: Archival Apparatus on the Apparatus – 3hrs

3PMA CECs

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Sunday, July 15 –

Morning Mat Class – 1 hr

Archival Mat and Standing Exercises  – 3hrs

3PMA CECs

There are many more versions of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today.  Variations, modification, combinations of multiple exercises in one!  Fascinating, challenging and all the rest!  These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago.  They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge!  Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!

Click HERE for more information and registration.

POT Discounts:

If you register using my code, you can get $50 off of registration at any POT.

$50 Discount Code:        SHARITOUR12

The discounts must be used when registering and are valid for any Pilates on Tour in 2012.

August 4, 2012 – Studio 1880 – Hamburg, GERMANY
2 Semi-Private Sessions
Beyond The Everyday: Archival Exercises on the Apparatus – 3 hrs

3PMA CECs 

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Flow & Rhythm – 2 hrs
2PMA CECs
Flow is much more than moving quickly through a list of exercises. Let’s figure out what flow is and how to create it within each move, reception and exercise. Flow has a lot to do with how you think of the workout and how you use your voice to set rhythms, give accents and emphasize certain points of each exercise. It will change your teaching for the better.
Mat Class of Flow & Rhythm – 1hr
1 CEC
Here is the studio’s announcement:

Special Guest- Workshoptag mit Shari Berkowitz am 04.08.2012 im Studio 1880 in Hamburg!

Am 4. August 2012 wird Shari Berkowitz im Studio 1880 unterrichten. Ich freue mich sehr, dass wir es geschafft haben Shari endlich nach Deutschland zu holen. Neben einer Advanced Matclass unterrichtet sie folgende Workshops, Archival Exercises – Beyond Everyday und Classical Pilates it is a workout – Flow and Rhythm, unterrichten. Wer möchte kann auch an einer der zei Semi- Privates teilnehmen. Die Unterrichtssprache ist englisch. 

We have limited space available! Registration starts on the 16th of april. Open to all teachers of all levels and all schools! Course language will be english.

For more Information regarding pricing, lodging, travelling, CECs etc. please call Power Pilates at +49 40 52570172 or e-mail us info@powerpilates.de. We are happy to answer your questions.

September in Sao Paolo, BRAZIL – Much information to come.

September 14-16 in Boston, MA – Pilates on Tour

Saturday, September 15

Morning Mat Class – 1hr

Beyond The Everyday:  Archival Exercises on the Apparatus – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Archival Mat and Standing Exercises – 3hrs

3PMA CECs

There are many more versions of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today.  Variations, modification, combinations of multiple exercises in one!  Fascinating, challenging and all the rest!  These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago.  They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge!  Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!

Click HERE for more information and registration

POT Discounts:

If you register using my code, you can get $50 off of registration atany POT.

$50 Discount Code:        SHARITOUR12

The discounts must be used when registering and are valid for any Pilates on Tour in 2012.

 

mid-Oct. – Sweden (in the works)

All Dates and Information TBA!  Check back soon!

Oct. 26-28, 2012 – Iasi, ROMANIA – Pilates Convention

The workshops are not set, yet, but date, presenters and location are!  Are you in a neighboring country…come to Romania for great workshops and workouts!

Here is what they wrote in their Facebook:

 www.pilates-convention.com gets bigger this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get also functional and well burned out with aerobics. The new theme of instructors are waiting you on 26-28 October: Shari Berkowitz, Orlando Fit Lopac, Mirela Anic, Giorgio Radici, Antonella Riviera, Mirjan DoubleTrouble, Laura Wilson, Gil Lopes, Paula Drosescu, Tatiana Chesalina, Judith Szereday, and more.

We’ll invite you to learn how to take care of the spine, of the hole body, of the mind, how to have fun with the kids teaching them how te exercise, special population trainings, and so many other things!!!

Looking forward to see you at the convention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In a wihle we’ll up-date the location, prices and shedule!

Thill then, don’t make other plans for 26-28 october, 2012!!!! 

I’ll post more information when I get it to share with you!

Nov. 11, 2012 – Pilates Barn – Madison, CT

All information TBA – Check back soon!

**************

And so many more workshops to come…we can do one at your studio, too!

****Please share this information and tell your Pilates teacher friends and colleagues to come on over for workouts and workshops that will get your Pilates-teaching-juices flowing.****

Again, these are not your typical workshops where you might get 1 useful tidbit.  You will leave full of new teaching skills and ways to look at Mr. Pilates work.  You will have a new perspective on Pilates that will enliven your teaching and your own workouts!

Shall we set up something at your studio or the one you work at?  Clearly, I travel to teach and enjoy it!  Read below for more info!

Workshops in Your Studio:

If you are interested in my teaching workshops and/or semi-private sessions for your teachers at your studio, please contact me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

I’ll be thrilled to put together a program with you for your needs!

While my vocabulary is classical Pilates, the principles behind my teaching and workshops apply to every style of Pilates.

We have countless topics to play with within technique workshops of classical Pilates and teaching skills workshop that apply to all!

*******
Sessions:
If you’re in NYC and want a Pilates session e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
And I’m Westchester, NY on Thursdays.

Workshops:
If you’d like a workshop and/or semi-privates at your studio, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com  I travel all over the world and would be thrilled to come to you!

Consultation:
If you’d like to set up a meeting on the phone or in person to ask questions about teaching or building/maintaining your business, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this blog!  I hope you’ll search around the blog and find articles that appeal to you, write comments, ask questions…I hope you’ll really make use of this!  Then…I do hope to work with you in person, too!

Enjoy!

– Shari

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Update on…Upcoming Workshops and Conferences as of May 26, 2012 Equipment Maintenance

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lizazmail  |  May 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Great article and good advice.

    Although through time my clients offered financial help to me open up my own space I have enough wisdom not to even go there (never mind opening a space two blocks away). I was grateful for the wonderful clientele the studio gave me access to but they were not mine to take away.

    This said I was in that situation of being a teacher in a studio where the owner felt I owned them: she was absent when I was teaching, did not make time for one on one with me, did not call to catch up on the latest development with clients and put herself in a situation where she felt threatened, even though I was honest, hard-working and loyal to the studio. I witnessed a confrontation between client and studio owner because of this perceived threat to ownership. The client lost respect and so did I. These kind of situations are unpleasant for all involved and is not a good way to run a business, especially one that is focused on well being.

    Nurturing and respecting your teachers (and in turn your boss) makes a world of difference. It is beneficial to all involved and makes your business thrive.

    ps: I am now teaching in a different part of the world. How’s that for not stealing the customers 😉

    Reply
    • 2. theverticalworkshop  |  May 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write in…not to mention read the article!

      We’re creating the business of Pilates right here and now…it’s important for us to consider how we want it.

      And…moving to another country or continent is surely a way to show that you are not taking any clients with you! Where do you live? Do tell!

      All the best,
      – Shari

      Reply
      • 3. lizazmail  |  May 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

        @Achieve your LOVA
        Thoughts on a studio who dismisses your services to then try to entice customers with bargains? Good riddance. To the studio who did not deserve to have you working in the space, and to the clients who took up the offer. They all knew better.

        We do not own our clients, “true private client” or not. In fact I feel that there are times when a client needs to move on and learn with someone else to keep their practice rich and alive.

        @Shari
        I had the great opportunity of moving to Panama and setting up shop here. It has been more challenging than expected in some ways although a natural progression in my career. I find it very stimulating, learning how to run a business instead of just walking into a space someone else created for me. I also have had a lot more time since moving here to explore what others in the field are doing (such as you!) and learn and share.

        This said Pilates is alive and well here in Panama. Linda Henriquez of Balanced Body has her studio 10 minutes away from home and I am blessed to be a student again, if only for an hour/week. I am planning on enrolling in some workshops, such as the Orbit work. Not bad, considering I thought I was leaving the center of the universe (hum, I mean NYC).

  • 4. Achieve Your LOVA "Life of Vitality & Agility"  |  May 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    So glad you posted on this topic. I too fimly agree that clients that come into the studio based on the studio’s own marketing efforts rightfully belong to that studio. I managed a successful studio in Florida for four years. This happened twice and we had to institue what I called “disaster recovery”. I do have to say the studio owners were involved with the clients and the trainers. Sometimes you are bound to run into a couple of “bad apples”.

    What about ‘true private clients’? I have my own website and accounts on a couple of websites listing my services and where I teach. I have had clients contact me. One particular studio I was teaching at I had brought in a few clients based on my own efforts. Shortly after my start to build up a clientele because of my own efforts the studio owner sends me a text telling me my services are no longer needed. After that I found out she had contacted the clients I had brought in to her studio and was offering them free sessions in order to retain them. What are your thoughts?

    It is sad that this type of drama exists in our profession. One instructor can only train so many clients and there is enough to go around.

    Reply
    • 5. theverticalworkshop  |  May 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      It’s lovely to e-see you here!
      Thank you for reading!

      Indeed, I ought to have added a section on bringing clients into a studio and how to set that up. I will add this to the actual article, but I’ll say for now: Teachers must set with the studio that if they bring in their own clientele and the studio is handling everything and any referrals that they can take the clients they brought in and have only worked with them specifically (Except for the rare sub needed) if they should ever leave. And any clients that they bring into the studio at all, perhaps they get a percentage of the monthly or yearly income made by that client.

      I’m so sorry you had that experience. That’s lousy! I wish the owner of that studio had behaved more appropriately. That was utterly inappropriate!

      It is, indeed, sad that any of this drama exists in our profession…and this is the tip of the iceberg as we well know! It’s so sad that any drama exists in Pilates.

      Again, thank you for your thoughts…I appreciate your taking the time to share with me…and all of us!
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 6. Arlene Salomon  |  May 7, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Great article, great response to the situation; I’ve been following this thread on FB and thru other Constant Contact releases and newsletters, apparently alot of people are concerned, upset and discouraged. But I think you are right Shari, that unrefined industry standards and poor communication between studio owners, teachers and others related to the profession is condusive to people doing business in a way that only benefits themselves.

    I like the pro active direction of your article where you talked about the urgency of creating a culture, “We’re creating the business of Pilates right here and now…This business of Pilates is still so very new”.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to share the definition of Professionalism, its a decent reminder for all of us in the Pilates Industry;
    Professionalism- to know, do, and support at a high level a chosen field or activity. Knowledge is the cornerstone for any profession. A person must understand the parts that make the field or activity a profession. The next word is “do” or skill. This is the art. A person must be able to perform- do- the activities associated with the field or activity or direct their performance at the highest standards recognized for the activity. The professional is aware of all parts of his or her chosen field. The third word is “support” or a better word would be dedication. The professional must support his or her chosen field. There must be a dedication to the field or activity. The dedication must bring with it a proud, or good feeling and a willingness to help the field or activity grow in stature.
    The greatest threat or potential “disease” of any profession is the pathogens that are constantly there only to do what pathogens do; drain energy- money- from the system and return nothing back. Pathogens are part of all systems. They will never be eradicated, but they can be reduced in numbers, and controlled.

    “We have to be the ones to start setting “industry standards”…and they should be awesome! I mean smart, honest, transparent, kind, healthy”.
    Well said, Shari!

    Reply
    • 7. iliahi  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      I think I’m having technical problems, my posts are not coming through.

      Reply
    • 8. theverticalworkshop  |  May 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Arlene,

      Thank you for reading and for writing such a thoughtful response. It’s our generation that is really the “boom” of Pilates…and we must work to set the tone of our industry!

      All the very best!
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 9. Marcia  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I have closed my business and had a loyal clientele who wanted to follow me to the place I would teach. I have brought with me at least 10 clients who became clients of the studio because of an email I sent to my mailing list updating them about where the staff was currently teaching. The studio owner who is a very friendly and bubbly person, dismissed the fact that I would inevitably bring clients to her studio and refuses to offer me a revenue share on those clients who have signed up since and who don’t attend classes under my instruction, but contacted the studio because they came to where I went (they judged that it would be up to my/their standards). She offered me a slightly higher hourly rate because I also happen to teach my private clients 40% of the time. So averaged (between my private clients takings and hers) the rate is higher, but no signs intention to acknowledge my share in the revenue.

    How to go about this type of people?

    I think this post is very relevant as I have also experienced the other side of the coin and I never had one teacher who brought her own clients to the studio. so I would know how to appreciate if I had.

    Reply
    • 10. theverticalworkshop  |  May 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Hi, Marcia,

      I see…I think that we need to establish how everything is done from the get-go…the very start. In fact, I do not start working at a studio without setting very clear agreements of how it will work when I bring my own clients in. If we start off with assumptions that “it will all be fine and we’ll figure it out as we go”…we never do so appropriately. We have to approach these situations as business situations…and behave as business people. Setting up a verbal or written contract is necessary…things must be agreed on. If I have a verbal contract in a meeting, I usually follow it up with an e-mail reviewing all that we’ve stated…so that there is a written/electronic copy of the conversation.

      What do you do now, after it’s all been happening? You set up a meeting with the owner and discuss. Come to an agreement that satisfies you and is appropriate to the studio. It’s important to feel comfortable with the situation.

      All the best,
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 11. Achieve Your LOVA "Life of Vitality & Agility"  |  May 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks Ladies, for your feedback. And Shari I look forward to a post on how to setup bringing clients into a studio. Oh btw, Thanks for your advice regarding the classical workout on Stott Equipment, the Reformer is the most challenging piece to keep the flow, espeically when the only place to put the straps is on the floor or over the shoulder rest then the shoulders are in the way. I am working through it.

    Reply
  • 12. iliahi  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Great article, great response to the situation; I’ve been following this thread on FB. I think you are right Shari, that unrefined industry standards and poor communication between studio owners, teachers and others related to the profession is condusive to people doing business in a way that only benefits themselves.

    I like the pro active direction of your article where you talked about the urgency of creating a culture, “We’re creating the business of Pilates right here and now…This business of Pilates is still so very new”.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to share the definition of Professionalism, its a decent reminder for all of us in the Pilates Industry;
    Professionalism- to know, do, and support at a high level a chosen field or activity. Knowledge is the cornerstone for any profession. A person must understand the parts that make the field or activity a profession. The next word is “do” or skill. This is the art. A person must be able to perform- do- the activities associated with the field or activity or direct their performance at the highest standards recognized for the activity. The professional is aware of all parts of his or her chosen field. The third word is “support” or a better word would be dedication. The professional must support his or her chosen field. There must be a dedication to the field or activity. The dedication must bring with it a proud, or good feeling and a willingness to help the field or activity grow in stature.
    The greatest threat or potential “disease” of any profession is the pathogens that are constantly there only to do what pathogens do; drain energy- money- from the system and return nothing back. Pathogens are part of all systems. They will never be eradicated, but they can be reduced in numbers, and controlled.

    “We have to be the ones to start setting “industry standards”…and they should be awesome! I mean smart, honest, transparent, kind, healthy”.
    Well said, Shari!

    Reply
  • 13. Monica  |  May 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Hello, Im italian teacher and I have enjoyed reading about the relationship beetwen teacher and owner’s studio . .
    You talked about a ” card” when you write all about the client . May I have a copyr? Thank you so much. M

    Inviato da iPhone

    Reply
    • 14. theverticalworkshop  |  May 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Monica,

      I will post that card as soon as I can. Thank you for asking for it!

      And thank you for reading the blog! Grazie!

      Where in Italy are you? I am making plans to come teach workshops in 2013. It would be lovely to meet you!

      All the best!
      – Shari

      Reply
      • 15. Monica  |  June 3, 2012 at 3:45 am

        Ciao,
        My studio is in Rimini near Bologna. ( North Est )Everybody knows Rimini in Italy Because it’s lovely : we have the sea and discos , bars on the beach….let me know if you come maybe you can do a workshop in my studio !
        Awaiting from you

      • 16. theverticalworkshop  |  June 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

        Monica,
        Thank you, again, for reading and writing a note to me! I realize that I have yet to post the client exercise card as I had promised. I will do so this weekend if not before!

        Thank you for the invitation to visit you in Rimini. I have known of lovely Rimini for a long time, but have never been. I’d relish the opportunity to visit as well as work with you and your community of teachers. Please, when you have a moment, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and let’s create a plan for a visit!

        I wish you all the best and look forward to what’s to come!
        – Shari

  • 17. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    […] Whose Client Are They Anyhow? […]

    Reply
  • 18. Andrea Borgman-Quist  |  April 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your article. Having gone through an awkward period with my trainers (independent contractors) who would take walk-in clients when I wasn’t there, I finally hired an attorney who set me straight. And you are so right – I put in the time, money and years of hard work to create my “brand”, not to mention the goodwill I created for my studio. I am so appreciative of the success I have experienced and the desire of other trainers to work with me but I know now that everything that comes out of my studio reflects on my and my studio’s reputation. Thank you!
    Andrea Borgman-Quist
    Pilates Monterey

    Reply
    • 19. theverticalworkshop  |  April 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Andrea,
      Thank you for letting me know your experience. I hope that you have sorted it all out and feel good about what you do!
      All the very best,
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 20. angie  |  July 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Hi there,

    I chanced upon your blog when researching on pilates on the web. The articles are a great read! I’m not a pilates teacher, just a student who have been taking group reformer classes for about a year now.Do you think it’s really beneficial for the students to schedule with different teachers for each class? I’m asking because
    I recently switched to another studio for private lessons. At the group classes, I’ve been taught to exhale when extending the legs and inhale on the carriage return. My new instructor, however, teaches the opposite. So I got a bit confused, and I have to ‘re-educate’ my mind, so I’m wondering if it’s better to stick with one instructor. Thanks!

    Reply
    • 21. theverticalworkshop  |  July 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Hi, Angie,

      Thank you for reading the blog and for writing in! Let’s see how I can assist:

      Ideally, one would take sessions and classes from many different teachers. Different perspectives are vital to learning in a well-rounded way.
      However, what you’ve found yourself facing is the very real confusion and dissension in Pilates. In truth, the differences ought to be welcomed as long as they have education backing each action or idea. Very often, there is little education and some really unpleasant things are happening in a studio.

      This particular issue about when and how to breathe…it’s not that important in the long run. Is there a most effective way? Yes, indeed. Biomechanically there is a most-effective manner of breath. However…could and should one be able to breathe in many different manners. Yes. That is the more important Yes, actually.

      First…just breathe.
      Next…be able to make choices in your breath.

      Why not have the agility and command over your breath?

      I support your taking from different teachers with different actions. Issues arise when one says the other is “wrong” and cannot support her reason why.

      You are a smart woman who has desire to move and learn. I’m glad you reached out so that you can make the best choices for yourself. Please continue to reach out when you need. It is my greatest pleasure to be able to assist teachers, clients…all.

      I welcome you and all clients to any workshop or class I give if I’m near you at any time. Please take me up on it!

      All the best,
      – Shari

      Reply

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