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socks and cat

business update

Today was a good day for Pole for the Soul. Three parties today: my contractor taught an exotic dance bachelorette party at the yoga studio just 4 blocks away. At the same time in my pole studio, I taught a party that was one half exotic dance and half pole party, followed by a separate bachelorette pole party a half hour later. The only flub was that my contractor (also a long term friend of many years) accidentally asked the bachelorette party to pay $200, when in fact they owed $250. The party knew their balance was $250, but didn't say anything when the instructor quoted them the wrong balance. This will put us in the most embarrassing position of having to contact them later and ask for the balance. This has never happened before. I have no idea if we'll ever see that $50 balance or not. I will feel like the meanest friend/boss ever if I have to dock her pay for the balance. She is a very good friend and a very reliable contractor and a fabulous instructor (students love her).

The new stagette pole arrived today. The guy at my mail box service is TOO cool. I told him that because the heaviest piece was 80 pounds, that I couldn't pick it up for at least a week (which is when I can get a man to help me). For no charge at all, he drove it up to my place in his pick up truck and dropped it off. As luck would have it, he is the father of a gal who used to pole dance here in Seattle. I forgot her name, but she is the extremely talented red-headed gal that often pole danced at shows with Pantera (she has since moved out of state).

The whole thing with offering workshops through that bar in the U-District is not going so well yet. After having instructors demonstrate for two Friday nights in a row, and plastering the bar with fliers announcing the workshop, only 3 people have signed up for the workshop on the 15th. Far more women than that have joined our mailing list as a result of the performance demos. One of my instructors goes around and invites the women to sign up for the list and they are happy to. But when it comes to committing to a date for a workshop at the bar, girls usually say they're not sure if they have plans or not that day. I guess they would rather be on the mailing list and sign up for classes later at their leisure. Or maybe the idea of learning to pole dance in a bar, is just very unappealing to the average college gal.

In a final note, one of the girls in the last party I taught tonight, told me how much fun they all had and what a good instructor I am. That's so priceless. Hearing that means far more than the money I make doing it.


It might not be legal to dock her pay for that. Check with your state laws first.

Even if it is legal, I suggest you not. It's going to create bad feelings between you and if this is the only screw up she's made, and your otherwise happy with her, why do that?

Yep, it's $50 you should have made, but it sounds like an honest mistake, and not one she's likely to repeat, so I suggest you just let it go and write if off to good will between you if they don't pay up.
I would like to do that. But at her Valentine Workshop it was so overbooked that I came to assist. But I paid her at her unsupervised and unassisted rate even though I was there and should have taken a larger cut for my time being there. I wanted to be generous and that was my way of showing my appreciation. I don't think I want to take another financial loss like that this time around. Once in February was enough.
Whose fault was it that her V Day workshop was overbooked? Her's, your's or is that "just the way it worked."

As the business owner you have multiple streams of income. You have the money you bring in yourself and the money your instructors bring in for you. You get the benefits of owning the business and you also assume the risks.

One of the benefits, like I mentioned, is that you make money from the work of others, as well as your own work.

One of the risks is that you can lose money through the work of others as ell.

But, remember that $50 loss is a smaller matter to you, as the business owner with multiple income streams (yours and all your instructors) then it is for any one particular employee.

It's the same as a restaruant that makes a waitress pay the pay for a patron who leaves without paying.

If something like this becomes a recurring problem with her, treat it as a discaplinary matter. Review procedures with her so she knows what's expected and how not to make the mistake and, if it happens frequently, then the best course of action would be to fire her for it.

Docking her pay is, in my opinion, unethical and it actually may be illegal. Check your state law on the legality. The ethics of it you have to decide for yourself.
"It's the same as a restaruant that makes a waitress pay the pay for a patron who leaves without paying."

You are incorrect. It is the same as a waitress charging a customer $5 for a $40 bottle of wine. If the $40 price is on the menu, and the waitress accidentally charges the customer $5, then it would be the same as my situation. In the situation you describe, the waitress has no control of the money loss because the customer cheated her. In my situation, the waitress asked the patron to under pay her.

Ok, to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

Whether it's a waitress accidentilly undercharging a customer or your instructor accidentilly undercharging you students, in both cases it was an employee making an accidental mistake.

In neither example did the employee deliberately try to undercharge the customer to "scam" the employer out of the money, correct? So when you say "the waitress asked the patron to underpay her" you agree that we are talking about an honest mistake, and not deliberate attempt to defraud the business, correct?

I still say in either case of an honest mistake it is unethical for an employer to dock the employee's pay for a mistake of this sort. Mistakes happen. Customers will leave without paying or pay the wrong amount and sometimes it will be the employee's fault. Assuming an abscense of deliberate fraud, that's just one of the costs of doing business.

But, as the owner of the business, that is one of the risks you assume in exchange for your hiring other people to work for you. The upside is you make money off her work. The downside is you assume some responsibility for her actions.

Short of a deliberate attempt to defraud you by an employee, I still say it's unethical, or at the very least a bad business practice, to dock the pay of an employee for this kind of mistake.

By passing that cost to her you are asking her to assume more of the cost of doing business, even though she is not the owner of the business. The relationship you have gives you more of a benefit then the benefit she receives.

Yes, it is due to a mistake on her part, but employees are going to make mistakes from time to time. A policy where you start docking pay for things like this is going to poison the relationship between you and your employees eventually.

Now, like I said, once is one thing. A warning should be given and steps taken to make it less likely to happen again. But, if it does happen again, that should be dealt with as a disciplinary matter and may lead to you terminating her employment for lack of ability to meet your requirements.

Ethical issues aside, if nothing else make sure it's legal to dock her pay in your state. It may not be legal and if it's not, then you are really setting yourself up for potential problems down the road.

Btw, if I worked for someone who docked my pay for an issue like this, I'd quit. And, if I knew of an employer who docked an employee's pay for something like this, I wouldn't patronize them.
"The upside is you make money off her work"

I don't think I make money off her work. I think my landlord makes money off her work. I think the office supply store makes money off her work. I think my insurance companies I pay monthly, benefit off her work. I think PayPal that I pay a monthly fee to, makes money off her work. I think my shopping cart system that charges me a monthly fee, makes money off her work. I think my utility companies make money off her work. I think my internet provider and web hoster make money off her work. I think the schools that I take annual teacher training from, make money off her work. I think the stores where I buy monthly studio supplies make money off her work. I think my bookkeeper makes money off her work. I think my accountant makes money off her work. I think my attorney makes money off her work.

You make it sound like I have revenue coming in from employees and I get to keep it. I don't keep it, I use it to support a ton of other people and their businesses that support my business. None of THOSE people will let me short them $50 this month. Not one of them.
Yes, you have expenses, obviously. And, yes, all the money that she brings into your classes doesn't go right into your pocket. The difference between the money that she brings in that goes right back out again and the money you keep is your *profit.*

But, are you telling me that you don't make a profit from the work of your employees?

If that's the case, why do you have employees?

It sounds like you think she owes you the money. That might be the case if she was a independant contractor and you required her to pay a set fee to use your studio or to pay off her lessons.

I thought you set it up so that they were employees though. Like I said, I don't think it's legal to dock the pay of employees in this manner.

Whether you agree with me on the ethics of if ot not, and I still think it's unethical, you should at least check the legality.

We aren't going to agree on this, but I'd hate to see you doing anything actually illegal.

"If that's the case, why do you have employees?"

Let me clarify, I LOSE money when I have employees. I could easily be teaching all the classes here and have for the first 2 years of business and keep all the money to reinvest in the business and to keep some. But working every evening and weekend for the last 2 1/2 years has completely cut me off from the people I would like to be spending time with. I miss fun classes. I miss birthday parties. I miss movie nights and dinner nights that friends invite me to. I am missing out on life basically. So I have to stop teaching every night and weekend and hire people to teach for me, even though it means making less money (because I pay them now instead of me).

So instructors = the business makes less money. Unless of course you count those occasions where I rent another studio and we teach classes at the same time.

And the instructor that collected the wrong amount is in fact a contractor, not an employee. The contract she signed states that she is responsible for collecting the balance at each party she teaches. So at this point, she is technically in violation of her contract.
OK, I'm not trying to be argumentative just to be argumentive here, really, but there's some misunderstanding on both our parts here.

Are you trying to say that having employees costs you more money then they bring in? If so, then yes, you lose money by having employees. And, if that is the case, you'll eventually go out of business.

I mean, if it costs you more to hold a class, including employee pay and all other expenses, then that class brings in, you are always running on a loss and eventually you'll go broke.

Or, are you saying that you don't make *as much* when you have an employee teach a class as when you teach the class yourself?

I *think* that is what you mean, but I want to be sure.

If that is the case, that you don't make as much when an employee teaches a class as you would when you taught the class yourself, you aren't technically "losing" money. You just aren't making as much as when you do all the work yourself. Your income should still be more then the expenses (including the expense of paying your employee instructor) so you should still be making a profit.

Granted, it's a smaller profit then if you eliminated paying the employee and taught the class yourself, but it's a profit and not a loss. (And, like I said, if paying an instructor means it actually costs more to hold a class then you bring in, that's unworkable in the long run).

But, the advantage is YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK YOURSELF. You can go off and do other things and the people who work for you are making money for themselves *and* for you.

You don't have to be there, and you make money. And, while it's not as much as if you were teaching that class yourself, you don't actually have to teach the class to make the money.

The trick then is to maximize how much money you can make off of other peoples work by having enough trained employees so that you can step back from having to do all the work yourself. You'll (hopefully) make up the difference by having the employees *collectively* teach more classes then you could ever have done yourself.

(A sure why for a sole proprietor to go broke is to hire someone to do the job for them and then ONLY have that person do as much as the owner would have otherwise done themselves. You have to get multiple people who collectively bring in more then you could by yourself, or it's not worth having employees).

So, if you have three employees teach three classes in two days, granted you wouldn't have made as much as if you personally taught three classes in two days, but, guess what, you don't have to teach those classes! That's money you made off of other people's work and time you can spend doing something else.

You can't clone yourself, so there are physical limitations to how many classes you can teach. Besides just exhaustion, you can't literally be in two places in the same time to teach two classes at once.

But, if you have two employees you could have them *both* teaching a class at the same time while you do something else. That's how you make money.

Now, I don't know what limitations you have on studio space, etc, that also limits your ability to run classes. But, now that you have people trained, the best thing to do is maximize their ability to make you money by running as many classes as you can.

You may have to rent additional studio space. You may decide to raise your prices.

(Btw, if all your classes are always full, or nearly always full, that's a sign that your prices are too low. If the demand is strong enough to fill your classes at the current price, raise the price a bit. Don't jump too high, but if they are filling up now, they should still fill up at a slightly higher price point. And, if you do lose a student or two, the increase in tuition from the rest of the students will make up for it.)

As to whether your instructor was a employee or contract worker, I assumed she was an employee because in previous conversations you said you had to have employees and not contract workers. As a contract worker you may have more rights to have her make up the difference if she didn't bring in the right amount of tutition. Personally, I still wouldn't do it, just to keep the relationship good, but it's not quite as questionable.
"...because in previous conversations you said you had to have employees and not contract workers."

The IRS rules do require that I make the class teachers my employees (and not contractors) due to the requirements of teachers meeting the IRS list of requirements for employees and not contractors. But this particular teacher only teaches exotic dance workshops, and no long term classes. So she doesn't meet all the requirements the IRS set for employees and they allow her to contract.

And you're right, I make less money when other instructors teach my classes, as apposed to losing money. But I put in about 6 to 8 extra unpaid hours per week in order to train them...for about 18 weeks. So 108 or so unpaid hours sort of is losing money. But that's why the instructors are under contract. They either have to teach for me for a year OR pay me back for all training they got for free (which would cover those 108 or so unpaid hours).
I agree with the comment above. It really sucks, but it sounds like your best bet would be to just eat the $50 loss. =/
You have a friend who used to dance for/with PANTERA?!?!?!!! Awesome!!! They are one of my favorite bands! (I miss them since they broke up and their guitarist got shot.)
Not Pantera the band. Pantera the woman:
Dude, I feel like a total a-hole, lol. Sorry for the mistake!
Don't feel that way! Unless you live in Seattle or pole dance, you would not have heard of her.
Thanks. :) I just see the word "Pantera" and my head goes to the metal band!