What to Expect
It goes without saying that, yes, you must know how to teach when you start your career as a Pilates instructor. But set teaching aside for a moment and think about the other parts of being a full-time Pilates instructor, like sending client invoices, collecting payment, running a team of Pilates instructors, setting policies for safety, building out your own teaching schedule, getting insurance…. Ugh! It can become overwhelming very quickly. But what if there were systems in place to help handle these situations?
The need for Pilates Business Systems in my own life were exactly what prompted me to write my book, “Profitable Pilates: Everything But the Exercises.” It all started when I found myself writing the same responses to the same client questions. I thought, “Wow, what if I had this as an FAQ on my website, or at least in a place that I could copy and paste the response?” Having this response recorded meant I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, and I could focus on the next step in my business.
This rolled onwards, into every aspect of building a career teaching Pilates. When I ultimately wrote that book my hope was to help both soon-to-be and current Pilates instructors have an idea of what questions to ask, systems to prepare and what to expect when pursuing a career teaching Pilates. Basically, it presents a simple outline to follow for becoming a Pilates instructor and getting started. It removes the guesswork and eliminates the need for hours of googling for answers to questions you might not even know you should be asking. If you haven’t read it yet, you can order your copy.
You Will Want to Prepare
That being said, let’s review a few systems you will want to prepare:
- New Clients: When they contact you, what can they expect? A call or email back? How easy is it for them to schedule their session? How and when will they get a confirmation of their appointment? Where does their paperwork go and who follows up?
- Studio Cleanliness: I talk about this in Chapter 5. Sure, most clients are expected to wipe down equipment as they go. But when is the studio deep cleaned and who does it? Where do props go? Is there a prop corner or do they all just go where ever they fit? When it comes to making these decisions, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. You just need to create a studio cleaning system and policy, and then make sure each person knows and understands it. If you are clear on how you want things to run, then it’s easy for people to know what to expect.
- Hiring and Training: I spoke about this in my blog “Hiring Pilates Instructors.” It will be easier for you in the long run, if you have a system in place for hiring and another system in place for training or on-boarding your new instructors. Even if they are renters. When you take the time to sit down and create a system, you can think about all the areas you need to cover. Then, when you are actually in the training session, you are not wondering if you forgot anything. It is all right there. This means each person you work with has the same opportunity for success. It also means you only have to do each instructor’s training/on-boarding once, and you have consistency among your team.
- Scheduling, Rescheduling, and Payments: If you do not have a system in place, it can feel like you spend most of your days scheduling, moving, and invoicing. Maybe you use a scheduling system like Mindbodyonline.com or maybe you rock it old school with a written agenda. There is no right or wrong way, just as long as there is a way and you are not just winging it. When it comes to scheduling, do your clients get a call, text, or email? If you have taken my workshop or course “Never a Dull Moment,” then you know it’s important to have a set schedule and present times you have available. If you need help creating a system for your scheduling, you should definitely check out that course. It eliminates at least one back-and-forth with a client when you are direct about what times you have available. Imagine how much easier it is when you get them on a standing schedule. What about tracking where your client is in their package? How are they are alerted when they are due to pay next? Having a system helps you get paid on time! Again, you don’t have to use a fancy invoicing company or tool. However, there are many accounting programs out there that allow you to personalize your invoices and keep track of clients. Usually for a low monthly fee.
- Late Cancellations: Most studios and teachers have a 24-hour cancellation policy; some even have 48-hour policies. The choice is yours. It’s important to have a system in place that informs the client of it (and how to handle it when it happens – because it will). It gives the instructor support on how to handle the situation and it also helps the client understand what to expect. But what if the teacher is late? What if the teacher cancels late ? Having a policy in place for this also creates a healthy professional business. When everyone is clear on how the policies work, then you’ll have fewer uncomfortable conversations.
- 911: None of us want to ever have to use this age-old system. But, you’ll be relieved you have this system in place if you ever need it. Where is all the emergency equipment? Where are all the exits? Who grabs what? Who do you call? Basically, what will you do in case of an emergency?
Putting Systems in Place
There are so many policies and systems that you, as an instructor or studio owner, need to have in place—more than I can write in one blog post. To get yourself started, however, I recommend you find a quiet space where you can think. The best time to create systems is when you are not in the “thick of it.”
Picture a day or a week in your ideal Pilates world. Envision a Pilates business that is running smoothly. What makes it run smoothly? Take that vision and work the puzzle pieces backwards until you have the basic building blocks in place that, put together, are great systems and policies that make up your smooth, efficient business. I know — easier read than done. If you stumble upon an obstacle that you can foresee but can’t quite get the system in place to resolve it, then contact me, and let’s talk it through.
Remember: The bonus of having systems in place isn’t just great organization. It’s also a decision that is already made – allowing you to do more of what you love and want to do: Teach Pilates!