One of the benefits of working in the fitness industry is that we can often claim the status of independent contractor. This allows us to organize our schedules in a way that guarantees we are in control of them.
For Pilates instructors who pursue other interests, such as dance, athletics, acting, academic pursuits, etc. being able to manage their own schedules can ensure that these activities remain priorities. As we work towards establishing and retaining a large enough client base that produces a steady and reliable income, we also have the opportunity via our scheduling to focus on personal goals.
Below are 4 points to consider as you learn to organize your time and create a schedule that establishes a successful and strong client base.
1) Prime Times
When establishing your schedule at any given studio, make sure you’re clear on the prime times. Often, having a good reading of the area of town you’re in can help. For example, if you’re setting up a schedule at a downtown studio, chances are early mornings, lunch hour and evenings are going to be lucrative times for those who want to get a Pilates workout into their work week schedule. Whereas studios in a neighborhood setting, perhaps have more demand for instructors during the mid-morning to early afternoon when kids are at school or on the weekends when there’s more down-time. Knowing when the clients are more likely to come in to workout is key when establishing your availability.
2) Shift Duration
Often, new instructors will provide large amounts of availability and then find themselves working shifts that have several hours unbooked between clients.
When you’re first starting out, a good way to monitor your working hours is to make available a 3 hours shift that you know you’re able to extend by at least one hour on either side. So, if you are able to do 7am – 10am, then allow for the flexibility and possibility of a new client wanting to come in for 6am or 11am. This, along with knowing when those viable hours are, can help you build up solid shifts that are long enough to be lucrative, but short enough that the workouts you provide are thorough and well prepared.
3) Maintain consistent hours
Some change is good and almost always inevitable. But frequently changing your hours of availability not only frustrates whomever you’re working for, but also those you’re working with. As you take a look at your availability, ask yourself what an ideal schedule might look like given other areas of your life that need attention. And be honest in knowing whether you’re able to commit to it. At our studio, instructors who work the evenings do so because they enjoy having their mornings to themselves. While those who are morning persons are the instructors who get in there for 6am and are out by 1 or 2pm to enjoy the rest of their day. Having the freedom to organize your own schedule is an opportunity to be honest with yourself in terms of what your best time of day is.
4) Accommodating clients vs. Over extending yourself
Because this industry can be quite fickle with client commitment on a regular basis, we sometimes need to be able to accommodate a client in order to retain the weekly hours we rely on. A client who regularly comes in for Friday at 8am may need to be accommodated once and a while in another time slot – one that requires you to expand your schedule and perhaps come into the studio when you otherwise would not. This is important, and in my experience, clients are usually gracious and appreciative of the accommodation. However, your time and how you spend it is one of your key assets in being successful. So while its wise to accommodate the regular client once and a while, its just as prudent to avoid overextending yourself for the client who is constantly changing and rescheduling their sessions. Commitment to both the time slot and the workout is required from both of you. This is what will promote longevity for you and results for your client.