Pay Rate for Employed Teacher
David L. North Carolina
I’m planning on having some of my traditional teachers who work for me go through the SM program, and can’t seem to come up with the best way to pay them. I know Neil talks about starting them at $XX/hr and I’ve heard others start with a low amount, but this one teacher has an extensive resume, and currently she teaches for me at a rate of $XX/hr (which I set). If I do an hourly rate that is fair, I end up screwed in a month with three days getting five weeks. Last night I did the math with a percentage instead of an hourly rate or amount per student. I thought about starting her at 40% and increasing 5% every six months (max 60%) if things are going well. Some might think that’s a lot, but if teaching is their sole income, it isn’t much at all! Has anyone found a way that works best in this regard? Oh and I’d be paying for 100% of her training. I know it’s not ideal, but most of my teachers live paycheck to paycheck, so there’s really no other way. I just look at is as an investment. I’ve sunk thousands into advertising with no return, so $900 isn’t that different, and I have more control in this situation. Any advice would be great!
Carrie L. Michigan
I’d suggest that you find a pay rate that works for your business. If you pay more than you can afford for your business to make a profit then you won’t be able to pay anyone a wage at all.
I struggled with hourly rates and such but we have found excellent teachers that are happy with our wages and they work for everyone.
We also do not pay for training. I consider it like a college level course. We have had three provisional teachers. Two paid for 100% of their training themselves. We have another provisional teacher training right now who paid for her training as well. One we paid half of the training, and she paid back a portion of it when she started teaching. Provisional teachers are already getting a discount for their training.
I would consider paying for training for teachers in part but not all…
Mark M. New York
I’d like to ask something a little more broadly on the topic of employed teachers and how we figure their pay. Clearly this question of the pay rate brings into play issues of just what it is you as the employing teacher are providing for them that would lead them to pursue an employee relationship with you as opposed to just starting their own studio. In effect, every dollar of student income that the employing teacher keeps as opposed to giving the employed provisional teacher is a cost for that provisional teacher, a cost for whatever services the employing teacher is providing. So we’ve already heard from a teacher who wants to pay for their training, and another teacher who doesn’t. What are the other factors that come into play here and that some teachers may do while other teachers may not, the other services that, in effect, employing teachers provide their employed teachers so as to just justify why a particular wage is not higher? Marketing? Recruiting? Administration? Other?
I ask because there is a population center not too far away from me that I think would be a great home base for teaching SM, but I personally do not want to move my studio there or even go there to teach regularly at a second location. But I do go to that same area to teach a continuing ed. SM workshop twice a year, and between that and also general marketing, I do get a lot of prospects from that area. But very few are willing to travel to where I currently am for lessons. So I think how great it would be to have a teacher employed over there, getting more students on board with the method. But then I wonder, just what it is that would be practical for me to provide so that it would actually be worth it to them to be provisional teacher, an employee of mine ending up with only some portion of the income from the students they teach (regardless of whether the portion was absolute or a percentage), as opposed to just starting their own studio? I don’t want to have to increase active marketing efforts there and be responsible for getting all their students.
This is the old issue of capital vs. labor, right? Without being left-or-right about it politically, how do we create a situation where it’s worth it for both people without either person feeling like they’re losing out, either through loss of too much money or through taking on of extra activities they don’t really want to be engaged in?
Carrie L. Michigan
I do believe that it is what the studio is providing for the provisional teachers.
We do all the marketing, all the scheduling, all the admin… really most everything for our teachers. They basically show up and teach. I also am available for coaching with my teachers at any time. Our teachers are all employees as well so we take care of all the tax things as well and they get a check weekly. They also get a beautiful space in which to work, pianos that are well taken care of and admin staff to help with things that they might need.
There are some studios that teachers would just basically rent a room to a teacher and I would think their pay might be higher as they would have much more time that they would need to do marketing etc.
We give raises based on performance as well and also pay more for larger shared lesson.
It’s really the difference between owning your own business and being an employee. Provisional teachers get discounts on their home materials as well as discounts on their training.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Several years ago when Neil talked to me about hiring teachers, and his advice was to establish the HIGHEST hourly rate at a 4:1 ratio (don’t pay more than 25% of your lowest tuition rate). Here’s what it means:
Determine the lowest per-class rate in your fee structure (lowest profit margin). For example, if your group rate is $90/mo and your private rate is $150/mo, then a private lesson is lowest profit margin – a private student brings in $150/mo, whereas a class of 2 students brings in $180/mo, and it only goes up from there.
Assuming you teach all but 4 weeks out of the year:
$150/mo X 12 months / 48 lessons = $37.50 per lesson = $75/hour (for 30-min. private lesson)
$75 @ 4:1 ratio = $18.75/hour
This is the TOP end – you need to leave room to get there with earned increases, so you can make sure the teacher is a good fit; are they teaching the curriculum appropriately, are they retaining shared lessons or do they keep dwindling down to privates, etc. etc.
I’ve heard so many teachers express the opinion that this seems very low. On the surface, it might. But this is for a provisional teacher who only needs to worry about keeping up on training and showing up to teach. They are not involved in running the business. My studio is a ‘full-service’ employer, so to speak, so this formula is fair for me. I provide all of the following for provisional teachers:
• all of their students – and all the time and money that goes into obtaining them
• a nice, professional studio space
• every piece of equipment and all supplies needed to teach, and pianos that are kept in tune
• lights, temperature control, restrooms (it’s not free, people!)
• ALL administrative needs – reporting stats, billing and collecting, scheduling and rescheduling
• free coaching
• Free lessons for themselves and their children
• Bonuses for referring students
These items add up to a substantial investment of time and money!
If you are not providing all that, then you might consider a higher percentage of pay to your provisional teacher. I am actually considering a different pay structure that pays more for larger groups. The easiest way I’ve come up with is to pay per student, so that the hourly rate earned is naturally higher the more students there are in a class.
Whatever your pay structure, your first order of business is to determine what works for YOU and your business. It must provide you with a fair share based on what you are providing the provisional teacher.