Where Oh Where Should I Have My Studio?
For many Pilates teachers both new and experienced, there comes a time when they need to decide where they will locate their practice. A spare room at home? A commercial space? A facility within a health club or medical facility? What works best and which option makes the most sense?
There are clear benefits to working from home. First and foremost is cost. It is less expensive to use a room in your house or apartment than rent commercial space. Depending on where you live, commercial space can be exorbitant. There are other advantages to staying at home. Says Angela Sassinak Barsotti of Toronto, “I could not afford to live in this apartment if my studio and living room weren’t in the same place; nor could I afford a studio of my own. This really is viable and I’m surprised more folks don’t do it.” Jean Young another Pilates instructor chooses to work from a home studio due to some health concerns, “I have a home studio because I don’t have the stress of renting space. However, if money was not an object I would have studio space.” So in her case, renting space would be a better option if that were possible. Karin Gmeiner of Germany loves having a home studio. “I don’t mind if a client needs to cancel an appointment because I have no extra costs.” Ellen Wragge of Newport Beach says when asked about moving from a home studio to a commercial space, “My business has increased but so have my responsibilities.” So as is the case with most everything, there is the good and the bad.
Then there are the pets. I always tell my clients that you have to love dogs before starting a practice with me. Although I always put my 84 pound Jessie into ‘Jail’ (our bedroom with the door closed) he does bark at times and sometimes likes to kiss the female clients when they first come in. Of course I have a few clients who don’t care for doggie kisses so the dog is not around when they show up. If it’s not dogs it’s crying babies, ringing phones and kids running around. Working from home isn’t for everyone.
Then there are the advantages of renting a commercial space. In a home studio no one walks by and sees the reformers or a room full of people vigorously working out in a mat class. In my own case, clients have always come from word of mouth and sometimes, sadly, that isn’t enough. Another advantage of a commercial space is having clients treat you differently. Denise Maffia of North Carolina says, “I choose to rent space and take on the extra overhead because when I did run the studio out of my home I felt that the clients did not respect the fact that I was still a business owner and still working to make a living. I find clients to be much more receptive and accept me more as a professional in a rented space than when I was teaching out of my home” Yet that may not always be the case. Belkis Rutchland of Maui says:. “I never had an issue with people not taking me seriously or crossing professional boundaries nor disrespecting my policies because I worked from home.” So it could go either way.
There is also the option of renting a small space in a medical facility or health club and then paying a percentage of the revenue to the owners. It’s a nice option that keeps the costs down and allows the teacher greater exposure. Lori Evans of Washington state started out renting space at a large gym, “One advantage of working for a gym is the access to hundreds of people day-in and day-out and the sales, marketing, and educational training. As a newbie, you can’t get that experience in your home” Now with that experience under her belt, Lori is very happy to be working from her home studio.
The two biggest advantages of a home studio are lower expenses and as Sunni Almond of Temecula says “the commute is amazing.” Last minute cancellations become less of an ordeal. The advantages of having a commercial studio is that there can be more space for group classes, fewer challenges bringing in new clients and greater exposure. Advertising is easier when one has a commercial studio as signs can be displayed in busy areas and business listings can include phone number and address (many home studio owners do not want to advertise their address). It also appears more professional to the prospective client and some people just won’t go to a private home.
So where do you decide to move your studio? It depends. Just make sure to weigh all options before making a final decision.