Working with Private Clients

Private and corporate clients can not only be amazing for your experience and learning about how to adapt your teaching style to suit different minds and bodies, but they can also help the finances of teaching yoga match up! But working 1-2-1 can bring lots of challenges in terms of managing relationships, particularly when it comes to last minute cancellations and letting people down.

I have one key piece of advice – set it out properly from the start. It is so easy to get chatting to someone and agree to something (yoga classes or otherwise!) to then get home, think about practicalities and realise you have bitten off more than you can chew, or totally undervalued yourself. While no one wants to hide behind a key board, I would encourage you to use your emails to get things laid out in black and white from the beginning.

When you agree to provide classes to a new client (private or corporate) you are essentially entering into an unofficial contract of moral commitment. But the key is that this has to be from both sides and the reality is that if people can ask for their money back, they generally will. So from the word go there are a few things that need to be discussed. I figured the easiest way to explain how I make this work for me, is to show you some examples of the emails I might exchange with prospective students.

 

Dear Lucy,

 

Thank you so much for enquiring about yoga classes. I am really looking forward to getting some dates in the diary so that we can get started whenever you are ready.

 

Please excuse my formality for a moment, but I just wanted to let you know my terms and conditions so you have them for your reference!

 

My rates vary slightly depending on the location, times and days. I am also able to offer a flat rate of £…. if you are interested in doing the sessions at my flat. I have a space that I use for classes and while it is very much my home, it is lovely to share it with students and tends to work well. It is also a lower rate as I will not need to cover travel expenses and times. Let me know what suits you best and some timings that would work for you so that we can compare availability. If you would rather I come to you, let me know your address so I can work out travel time etc.

 

Once we have that decided I can send confirmation of rates and we can get booked in.

 

I also offer block bookings at a reduced cost – if you book and pay for 4 sessions in advance, you will save £5 per session. Please note that these will need to be used within 6 weeks. If you would like to book 6 sessions you will save £7.50 per session and you will have 8 weeks to use these.

 

In terms of payment, I ask that you send payment in advance of the sessions where possible. My bank details are as follows and an invoice/receipt can be provided if you would like one:

Name:

Acc No.

Sort code:

 

All sessions have a 24hour cancellation period. If you cancel within 24 hours, you will be fully charged for the session. The only exception to this is if I am able to reschedule the session for the same calendar week. I will always try to do this, but please know that it is not always possible and will be dependent on my schedule.

I will bring a mat for the first session - please let me know if you have one already. We can then discuss other props based on what is appropriate for your practice. Going forward, I would recommend one of the below mats:

(Insert a few of your fav mat brands - I recommend doing a few for different price ranges eg. one less than £20, one around £40 and one top end depending on your clients). 

...

Then finish email with anything else, and make it personal so it isn't just a copy and paste job!

So there are a few things to note here.

Firstly – your rate…. You need to consider travel time, expenses etc and set a price that gives you enough to cover that and still leave you with a rate you are comfortable with. (We will talk more about this at another time! )For that reason, if I use my own space, it is cheaper for students as the time taken is significantly reduced.

Secondly, I came up with the ‘use 6 sessions in 8 weeks’ idea because I found that some clients would pay for their sessions in bulk to save money but then not actually book them. A few months down the line, I still owed them 4 sessions but the money had been spent and I then was committed to paying back the time when I could be earning elsewhere. You don’t have to offer discounts or bundles – I just personally find it helpful for my cashflow to be paid in larger sums to help cover life expenses!

Finally – when someone cancels last minute, the terms listed mean that what you do is totally at your own discretion. I like to have it this way round so that I can then choose as a one off to not charge my student if for any reason you feel like it (for example, they cancelled and it allowed you to take a class you hadn’t planned to, or it freed up some time that really helped you out!).

Now the last think that I wanted to mention was those times when you need to cancel on your client. Of course you don’t want to mess people around, but sometimes things do happen. Personally, when someone is paying you well for your service, when you feel as though you cannot provide it to the expected standard for any reason, it isn’t really fair to do the class just to make the money. Last week I felt suddenly quite emotionally drained in the afternoon ahead of my 1-2-1 session in the evening. I decided that I didn’t feel able to provide the service to my regular standard and therefore would cancel on my client. I spent a long time wondering what to say and then came to the conclusion that I would just tell the truth! By being honest, my client was very understanding and it was no trouble at all. You can always find ways to make it up to your client, just do your best to limit commitments that you can’t stick to! Of course if you are ill, its also worth remembering that you will be working closely with someone so the chances are they would prefer to skip a week, let you recover and then resume the following week, rather than have you breathe all over them! It might all sound obvious, but being honest and open is always the best way to go in terms of creating lasting relationships with your 1-2-1 clients.

More recently I have come to have more clients with specific needs – post-natal, injury rehabilitation, chronic back pain etc. My last note for this post is that when you are working with a student, particularly 1-2-1, it is so important to ensure that you have sufficient knowledge to guide them. I always spend the first 10-20 minutes of the first class with a new student chatting about what they want from their practice, their previous experience and any injuries or limitations within their practice. You may also wish to add a liability waiver to your initial email in order to make sure they take reasonability for their own practice. I know it makes it all seem a little dramatic or scary but its important to protect both you and your students. If in doubt, be honest and never work with someone or give advice about something that you are not fully educated about!

yoga teachingAnnie Clarke