When to Hire Someone to Help

image00136I am not a lawyer, or an experienced business person – and I have absolutely no idea how to handle payroll, but I am a teacher who has been filling the role of teacher, bookkeeper, human relations, events coordinator, etc – so what I will address today is related only to the fact that I am feeling overwhelmed and overstretched.

How does a teacher in a private lesson situation do it all?  When we teach at our homes, we live at work… we breathe work, sleep at work, eat at work, spend time with family at work.  Separating the daily workspace and homespace is easy enough, but nearly impossible when our minds are constantly working on our next “to do” list.  Sometimes, we simply need help.

If you could hire the BEST assistant (one who would do everything except the teaching), what would you want?  What skills?  What jobs/tasks would they complete?  What hours?  What mannerisms, habits, and different personality preferences would you hire?  What would be the pay?  Any benefits?

We need to address all of the above questions, and more, when considering someone to hire.  Employing someone in your studio requires reliability, trust, their ability to work independently, and a quick grasp of their job description and tasks.

For me, the following would be non-negotiable for the all-around helper.  I would consider, however, someone who could learn the skills need (but perhaps doesn’t already use them, or know they exist).

*Clerical – computer, bookkeeping, filing, billing, ordering supplies
*Studio Tasks (daily) – practice logs,
*House cleaning – vacuuming, dusting, straighten waiting area
*Technology – keep things running, programs, software, electronics, printer
*Public relations – quick to respond to emails & phone calls, courteous, friendly
*Advertising – someone who could efficiently & thoroughly utilize the advertising options.

Hours would be…
*Before the Teaching Day (prep, public relations) – perhaps 2 hours?
*During the Teaching Day (tasks not requiring my attention) – 3 to 4 of the hours?
*After the Teaching Day (cleanup, filing) – perhaps 1 hour?

The ideal situation would be as shown above, but I’m not speaking for Assistanteveryone.  Who would you hire?  If you could sit back, relax, enjoy time with your family, and afford the financial change hiring someone would take, what would you do?  What things would you put back in your schedule?  What enjoyable things do you do to relax after a long day of teaching?  How would your life be changed by hiring someone you could trust to do things just as thoroughly & carefully as you do them?

I am new to the thought, but am excited at the possibility!  I am excited for what the future holds in my studio.  What does the future hold in your studio? What would you do in this situation?

2 thoughts on “When to Hire Someone to Help

  1. When I was still teaching at home, I had two parents I bartered with for lessons. One cleaned my house in exchange for her son’s lessons. The other logged expense receipts, filed papers, etc. in exchange for her son’s lessons. These were the two primary tasks that I wanted to delegate to save me time. While working at home, I wanted to maintain the personal touch of returning my own phone calls and emails. (Although I did have my teenage daughter call students to cancel when I came down real sick a time or two.) The mother who cleaned had great work ethic and worked hard the entire time she was cleaning. That is an important thing to look for. The one who did office work, however, worked VERY slowly, learned VERY slowly, and kept track of every single minute she was here to be sure she was credited enough to her account. This is not the type of person you want to hire…especially if you are actually paying them an hourly paycheck. It’s important to know that, if they are set up on work/study status, and their pay is credited directly to their account, you are not required to pay minimum wage. My students usually get $5/hr for work/study, unless I’m having them do something really big and I see that they are doing a good job.

    Now, I run a studio of 14 teachers and 135 students, on multiple instruments. We quickly reached a point of needing a receptionist/office assistant. She fields all phone calls, schedules prospective students for consultation appointments, registers new students, receives/records tuition payments, responds to general emails, manages the studio schedule, does minor clean-up at closing time, sets up rooms for group lessons, etc. The primary things I looked for when hiring her were: a very friendly personality, a bit of a salesman, good work ethic, and enough intelligence that I could teach her the rest. Some experience with the computer was important, but not critical, as the programs she would be using (primarily Studio Helper) were very easy to learn and weren’t typical programs that she would have had experience with elsewhere. Oh…and neat handwriting and good spelling/grammar. She would, after all, be the one taking phone messages for me and other teachers, sending emails to students, and proof-reading text for me.

    I understand being clueless about payroll. My teachers are all hired on a contract basis, so that is easy. Write them a check each month, and send them a 1099 at the end of the year. But my receptionist is an actual payrolled employee. I’ve seen a lot of small businesses get in trouble due to all of the legalities that go along with hiring employees. So, I use a company called PayChex. I pay them a fee per pay period to handle all of the payroll taxes, etc. for me. I simply call them twice a month to report hours worked, and then they deliver an envelope the next day that contains my receptionist’s paycheck and all of my necessary documentation.

    In order to encourage my receptionist to really stay up on what’s going on in the studio, and know all of the ins and outs of everything we do (which enables her to be able to get prospective students to at least commit to a consultation with a teacher), I pay her a base pay of minimum wage. But she gets a bonus for every student she registers for lessons.


    • Thank you, Rebecca, so much for all your great feedback, suggestions, and experience! I know I am going to refer back to your reply in the coming years as the studio grows. Your knowledge & ideas on this subject, I know, only touch the tip of the iceburg. Please post again! ;) And you mentioned privately that you enjoy following other teacher’s blogs. Please let me know what they are – I follow several as well. We just love to learn from one another. :)



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