I've been offered a job at a great studio, but the pay is really low

Can I Ask You A Question? 

"There's a studio about 30 minutes away from me looking for new teachers.  I applied and really love the owner and the vibe of the studio.  I think I could learn and grow here but....the pay is really low.  When the owner shared the rate of pay, I expressed my concern and she answered that she's battling two club pilates 5 miles in each direction and can't raise client rates right now.  I don't want to make this about the money -- that's not why I became a Pilates Teacher, but at the same time, it's an hour round trip just to get there and I think I'm worth more. Should I suck up the low pay?"

~ Sincerely, What Am I Worth?


 Dear What Am I Worth, 

Employee pay is a common topic for discussion on both the employee and employer side and we all always end up in the same place -- there's never enough.   From a dollars and cents stand point, a studio can only pay what it can pay.  A low-ball offer is 99.9% not personal or a reflection of how much they value you.  It's a reflection of what's coming in the door.  So I want you to immediately dismiss any feelings of "worth" as it pertains to her offer.  I'm certain she thinks you are high value -- she offered you the job!

Now there is a bigger, and very common issue at play here and that's how studios actually make and distribute their money so allow me to give context for the pay you were offered.  

There is a general formula that studios *should* use when creating their budget. 

  • Thirty percent revenue should go to payroll which includes payroll taxes and any associated payroll company fees
  • Thirty percent revenue should be allotted to general expenses like rent, booking software, accountant fees, insurance, lease payments on equipment
  • Thirty percent to owner pay
  • Ten percent to profit/savings/future re-investment


Decisions made early in studio ownership impact the success of this formula long-term.  If a low rent isn't negotiated, that bucket will demand a lot for the duration of the lease.  If a first hire is paid a high rate because the owner was desperate when she hired her, the payroll bucket will be strained for future hires.    

And then there's the pricing which is at the heart of the question here.  

Pricing yourself low because you want to "get people in the door", or,  not raising prices because of Club Pilates, exemplifies a fear-based mindset. Owners want to protect their businesses. Keep it safe from disappearing clients, diminished sales, confrontational conversations and all the other icky stuff.  But doing so stifles growth, evolution and success.  You can't keep your kids locked in their rooms to protect them from the bad things that life serves up.  This is no different.   

You mentioned that this could be a great place for you to learn and you really like the vibe of the studio.  There's value to that.  Being happy at your place of employment is a benefit not many enjoy.  So my suggestion is to work something out with the owner.  Agree to her pay for a period of time along with some benchmarks of success (conversion rates, class head counts, client consistency) with the understanding that your pay will increase at the end of the term.  This gives the Owner time to plan and work on her fears and it gives you time to succeed and show your value.  

Good luck and let me know how it goes!