Your faculty is your most important asset. Without taking care of your dance teacher contracts, you wouldn’t be able to grow your studio. Having an environment that promotes growth, security and involvement might be your best protection against teacher defection. Having expectations written in a contract helps not only define your rules but also outlines the benefits of staying with your studio.
We’d like to point out, that the best relationship between a studio and an instructor, is creating an environment for that instructor that makes her/him feel like they are part of your team and valuable employees critical to the success of your business. In many corporations, employees are rewarded for their loyalty in the following ways:
- Financially: Raises, commissions for recruiting new students, and bonus’ when you have a great year financially.
- Increased responsibility: Can this person help YOU make good business decisions? Can they help guide the curriculum? Is there a new class they’d like to propose? Can that be their class where they are in charge of growing enrollment? Give a bonus for creating a new class with new students.
- Profit sharing: Figure out a way to make your top faculty involved in growing the business, including helping with social media.
- Nice party for teachers/staff only.
What to Include in Dance Teacher Contracts
Having a semester or year-long contract with your employees can save you the panic and headache of finding a teacher mid-semester. While a contract does not guarantee your employees will stay, it can strongly encourage your employees to fulfill their commitment to your company.
That being said, having everything in writing can help you establish rules and guidelines. Here are critical elements to include:
Start and End Date
The date your employee will begin working for you and how long they will stay on your team (you can always renew contracts).
When and how your employees will be paid. Will you pay them weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? Do you plan to pay in cash or check?
The pay rate is the rate at which your employee agrees to work for, including: rate for subbing, overtime, and event assisting (for example, their event rate would be what they get paid hourly to assist at your recital or at a competition; the overtime rate would occur if the recital or competition runs over).
Potential annual raises, or bonuses based on performance, retaining and bringing in new students should be included and emphasized.
What classes they will be teaching and any agreement about the class and their method (this can include arriving on time, having a happy demeanor, being courteous to parents, etc.)
Limits to include: will not work for, choreograph for another studio within “x” miles radius (or not at all.) Will not start a competing studio within “x” miles from your location. Will not start a competing studio within “x” amount of months. Will not recruit students from your studio.
It is a good idea to put in a clause about your restrictions on social media. For example, no “friending” students- professional pages are fine- that way you can also track communications between students and faculty. Outline what they can and can’t post about the studio on their personal accounts. And, a good idea would be bonusing or having a contest for great Instagram photos! (Make sure parents consent to social media photos.)
If your studio has a teacher dress code, include it in the contract.
Consequence for Early Termination
Sometimes teachers have to leave the studio and their contract early. However, if there are no consequences for leaving the studio before their contract ends, they may run out on you mid year without giving you a two weeks notice. In this section you could include an early termination fee; the fee can reflect the damage them leaving would have on your studio. For example, if a teacher’s hourly rate is $30.00 and they teach four times a week, you could include a termination fee of $300.00; this is equivalent to ten hours of work, thus greatly discouraging early termination. This money will also help you find a new employee and pay for emergency subs. Another idea is to lower the early termination fee if they give you two weeks notice, encouraging them to be upfront with you if they have to leave.
How many days or weeks you will allow vacation for your employee and how far in advance they must notify you.
What responsibilities the teacher has if sick (when they should notify you by, if they should attempt to find a sub, etc.).
Reserving the Right To Terminate the Employee
In this section you reserve the right to fire your employee for misconduct. You may choose to list specific misconduct that an employee can be terminated for or just keep it general.
Remember, the dance teacher contracts are not just to protect you, but potentially, to encourage employees to work at their top performance. You can always make exceptions to contracts if necessary, however, having your employees agree to certain policy will make the workings of the studio clear to your teachers and give you written documentation that can protect against harmful employee behavior.