One of my Teachers refuses to book her clients with a sub. This isn't sustainable for my business!

I have a teacher who refuses to book her clients with a sub when she goes on vacation. I have asked her time and time again and she always says things like “Oh, I mentioned it, but they decided to take the week off until I come back." I know this isn't true, and it deeply hurts the business. If everyone takes the week off, we have to give them make up sessions, and finding time in her schedule to do that is challenging. The clients end up having credits for sessions they've paid for and haven't used. The few clients who are on a package payment are delayed another week before they renew. How can I get her to understand? – Frustrated


Dear Frustrated,

I feel your frustration. As a long-time studio owner, I’ve had to address this situation myself—on more than one occasion! Unfortunately, it comes with the territory.

It sounds like your teacher is experiencing fear of loss, most likely stemming from insecurity. 

Novice teachers or teachers just starting can understandably experience some doubt and apprehension: Am I doing a good job? Do my clients like me? Is the studio owner happy with me? Likewise, the most experienced teachers can also, at times, have feelings of insecurity when their identity is wrapped up in their client's adoration.  

I once had a very competent teacher who was very popular with the clients and their adoration was part of her identity. She always resisted letting other Teachers sub for her not because she was worried that they wouldn’t get a great session, but because she was afraid her clients would like the other teacher as much or, worse, better.

Insecurities come in many different forms, on many different levels, and can present differently in each situation. 

As studio owners, we must recognize and promptly address these situations with a firm but compassionate approach. Consider these three ways:


  1. Hold a Team Meeting. Gather your teachers together and go over issues of concern—in this case, subbing.  Remind them of your policies (which should include a clear protocol for covering classes when a teacher is sick or away) and reiterate the importance of working together as a team. You can also remind them of the important role they play within your studio and that the team’s success is their success. Ultimately, they should put the interest of the studio and the client first.


  1. Have a Private Conversation. Choose an appropriate time to pull your teacher aside and have a one-on-one conversation with her. Try to help her understand that she is very important to you and her clients, and she needs to trust in their loyalty. You also should point out that clients have free will. Attempting to hold them hostage—which is what she’s doing by not offering them a substitute teacher—will only backfire. Clients will become resentful because they are missing out on sessions, and the studio loses because it is missing out on revenue. Without the studio, no one has anything. No hoof, no horse.


  1. Reach Out to Clients. As the studio owner, staying in direct contact with the clients is a good idea. Periodic reminders of studio policies regarding expiration dates and make-up sessions help keep clients on track. Give them options to attend other sessions while their regular teacher is away. Offering them the opportunity to work with a substitute teacher lets them know you are committed to meeting their needs. 


As owners, we will see teachers come and go. Our hope is to retain the ones who best represent us and put the studio first. Try to instill confidence in your teachers by being supportive and appreciative. Hopefully, they will see their value and not only trust in themselves but also you, their coworkers, and their clients.