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Thinking of Hiring Another Teacher?

Read this first!

· Music Business

You're an independent teacher.

You're thinking about opening a school.

You've got a waiting list.

You've got space.

You've got a nice instrument.

You've got interested families.

You have a desire to make more of an impact I your community.

You have a desire to make more money.

You have a lot to offer another teacher who is open to learning from you.

You've got a waiting list.

You've got interested families.

You're thinking about opening a school.

You have a desire to make more money.

I'm with you! I was in the same place as you and had the same thoughts, on replay, like you do. I too had a waiting list, and I was teaching seven days a week at one point. I had a lot of interested families, the demographic was ripe with potential and I knew I wanted to make more money. So what did I do? I hired another teacher.

This particular teacher was fantastic. I paid her 70% of what I collected in tuition. At the school now, we pay out between 55-60% of tuition, which is VERY high in comparison to other schools nearby. Do the math, worst case scenario and best case scenario, then invest in your people is what I say.

Look for a strong communicator...this particular person was; she came to my home, we had two teaching spaces and it worked great for a short period of time. I handled all of the scheduling, the billing and tuition collection. There are several success stories I am aware of where this has worked long term, but for me I was tired of so many people coming to my house, which is what led me to want to open a school instead of have a second teacher. Her clients kept asking me questions and looking to me for the answers. I was still their point of contact and the bottom line was they really wanted me. They called my studio and I was full, so I placed them with this teacher. She was new to teaching and uncomfortable handling payments and being firm with absence policies. Overall, it was a fantastic learning experience for me. If I was going to hire another teacher, I wanted to do it right and I wanted to set her up for success as well. I personally didn't want an assistant in this capacity, I wanted a colleague.

What you need to have in place BEFORE you hire someone else is your operational processes, communication channels and financial/legal house in order. Hiring another teacher means a few things and isn't as simple as one might think:

  1. You are now managing two studios instead of one. Do you have processes in place to handle that? If not, what considerations do you need to explore and implement before embarking on this journey? 
  2. You are now responsible for communication to the families of the newly hired teacher, which means you need to be VERY clear. Are you running your studio in a way that is professional and clear to anyone who might be enrolled with this new teacher? 
  3. You are now responsible for paying another teacher. Is he/she going to be an employee or a contractor? You should probably have a legal agreement. 
  4. How much will you pay this teacher? How will you pay the teacher, and at what interval? Think of how you can streamline and automate this process. 
  5. How will you handle the absence policy when you aren't the one making the decision to make up the lesson or not? 
  6. How will you invoice and collect tuition for the students who are being taught by your newest faculty addition? Online, check, cash, etc...
  7. When planning performances or group classes, you now have more students to account for. Do you have a system in place to handle those logistics? 
  8. You have more traffic coming into your home. Are you prepared to set the same boundaries and enforce them? 
  9. Who is going to handle the cleaning now that you have more people to account for? 
  10. Be clear on your goals. Why do you want to hire another teacher, and are the trade offs "worth it" for you? How much more will you ACTUALLY make by doing this? Do the math first!

There is a romantic idea of having an employee to help out with your overflow, possibly some administrative responsibilities and having a colleague working with you. The reality of it is you are now someone's boss, so add another hat to your already full plate of teacher, business owner, and now entrepreneur. If you like managing people, this is definitely for you to explore. If you like streamlining processes, then you definitely need to tighten your own up first, and then explore what it might look like for you to have another teacher, or several. If you really like to teach and want to spend your energy there, then I advise against hiring someone else. It's not a 'cash cow' like some people might think, and your time is worth a lot. After all, time is your most limited resource!

If you do hire another teacher, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would I want to spend time with this person if he/she didn't work for me? 
  • If I need a sub, would he/she be a good fit? 
  • Will this person represent me well? Remember, he/she is now an extension of your brand.
  • Can I trust this person to be in my home when I am not present? 
  • Am I prepared to be someone's boss? Meaning, have you thought about this in a business transactional sort of way. 
Legal Considerations: You are operating a business out of your home, and depending on where you live, this may be against HOA rules. I would definitely consult an attorney to find out what would be necessary to ensure you are in compliance with state and local laws.
Owning a school is an amazing endeavor, but it is not for the faint of heart. Personnel management and streamlining processes are key.
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