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3 Reasons to Never Hire Lousy Teachers Even if You're Under Staffed

Plus, the Solution No One is Talking About

Is your entertainment or instructional program short-staffed? The problems starts with a small little inconvenience... you need another teacher, but the applicants are less than impressive.

Still, you need another teacher, so you put on your rose-colored glasses and sift through the applications one more time.

"Maybe she'll be better in person than she is on paper," you tell yourself. "Surely, he'll be trainable... hmm... never stays at a job more than 4 months?... this time might be different."

Soon, you discover that lousy teachers are no help at all. Here are 3 marketing-related reasons to never hire unqualified staff members, and what to do instead.

(Watch/Listen below, or keep reading)

1) Anti-Marketing

If showing off the quality of your program is marketing, then placing lackluster teachers in charge of classes (for parents to see) is anti-marketing.

Teachers that check their phones, congregate with other instructors, take too many breaks, and fail to show genuine interest in their students leave a lasting impression - and it's not good.

No amount of technical expertise can make up for those vices.

2) You Are Left to Smooth Things Over With Unhappy Customers

Often, when parents recognize that their child's instructor isn't up to par, they just quietly leave the program in pursuit of greener pastures. This breaks our entrepreneurial hearts (and it's not great for the profit margin either)

Others will stick it out... and complain.

You find yourself returning calls, putting out fires, and smoothing things over... all while promising that it won't happen again. This situation takes you from under staffed to poorly staffed; the solution ends up being worse than the original problem.

3) It's Hard to Right Your Reputation

Oh yes, let's talk about those online reviews... not just Google and Facebook stars, but those stealth-like mommy group conversations that are undetectable by radar.

You can combat public reviews on Google and Facebook with a professional and caring response. But, there's not much you can do about the other. Once they are released into the universe for anyone to read, there they will remain.


Confession: I've been doubting my ability to explain how your staffing decisions affect your marketing, and vice versa. So, I didn't intend to create this post.

But, I kept seeing industry videos, podcasts, etc. on this topic, and none of them addressed the core problem that many of you may be facing. The hiring pool is narrow and shallow, and the more unique skills required for the job, the more narrow and shallow it becomes.

If you need 15 skilled gymnastics coaches to cover your program, but only 10 of these unicorns exist within a 20-mile radius of your gym, you can offer applicants the moon, and you still won't be able to hire 15 coaches - only 10. You can offer pay rate increases, bonuses, incentives, and oodles of positive reinforcement, but still come up short-staffed... and more frustrated.

So, fingers crossed that my wordsmithing skills are adequate enough to further explain...

Here's the truth:

  • There is a true and legitimate staffing shortage.

  • The service industry is being seriously affected.

  • The problem is not going to go away. *My current opinion

Most activity center owners still have trouble filling all available positions, despite using these strategies:

  • Online job postings

  • University job boards

  • Social media ad campaigns

  • Reaching out to professors who teach in related fields (education, kinesiology, etc.)

  • Increasing pay rates

  • Offering flexible schedules

In addition to the difficulty that stems from having a small pool of candidates who are looking for work, activity center owners also need workers with two specific and unique skills:

  1. Ability to manage groups of children

  2. Ability to teach the technical skills required by the curriculum

This all sounds like gloom and doom, but it's not. You just have to back up and solve this problem from a different perspective. Keep reading to learn how...

Step 1: Determine what program(s) make up the bulk of your revenue

A social media poll suggested that recreational classes provide up to 96% of the actual program profit. Therefore, it's those classes that our next steps will focus on.

Step 2: Ask customers what they want out of a recreational program

Chances are, the majority of customers are not there for the specific technical instruction related to the sport or activity that you specialize in. They are likely using that instruction to achieve more important benefits such as:

  • Fun

  • Social Interaction

  • Fitness, Artistic Development, or Teamwork

  • Confidence Building

They are simply using what you teach as a tool to achieve those bigger goals. Now, look at your program from this perspective, and ask yourself...

Here's another question to help illustrate this point...

Can you cook a better hamburger than McDonald's? Yes! Everybody can. So, is McDonald's really in the burger business? Or are they actually selling something else?

I'm not saying that you should ditch your primary program.

But I am suggesting that you look at your program and determine which portions of that program require those highly skilled technical teachers. And, which parts of that program require the ability to manage groups of children without the additional technical skill requirement.

You've just made your hiring pool significantly bigger. All you have to do is "repackage" those programs from a marketing perspective so that you are continuing to:

  1. Create the right message that will still focus on benefits that parents already want to buy.

  2. Represent those programs accurately and honestly.

Step 3: Brainstorm other activities that compliment your program

Enjoy these examples:

1) Gymnastics Parent's Night Out becomes All Star Parents Night Out: If your gymnastics coaches are stretched too thin, you can staff this event with:

  • Physical Education students

  • Former high school athletes

  • Recreation Therapy students

2) Beginner Dance Camp becomes Creative Movement Camp: Add a few theatre enthusiasts to your teaching roster and alternate dance sessions with theatre, improv, yoga, or imaginative play.

3) Martial Arts Camp becomes Ninja Moves Camp: The sensei teaches the martial arts technique, and fitness instructors supervise flexibility, balance, and strength sessions.

Here are even more ideas:

  • Music teachers leading rhythm activities

  • Guitar players who do sing-alongs

  • Firemen who do safety demonstrations (complete with lights and sirens)

  • Pediatric occupational therapists who lead sensory play activities

  • Balloon artist demonstrations

You can even stretch your staff with a few scheduling hacks.

Cheer coaches, for example, need to be highly skilled in order to teach tumbling and stunting skills safely. However, the following cheer class components don't require the same level of coaching skill:

  • Warm-up and stretch

  • Conditioning

  • Basic motions

Have groups of athletes rotate from instructor to instructor. Keep those highly skilled tumble and stunt coaches assigned to those learning blocks, while less skilled instructors handle the warm-up and stretch. In this example, the instructor stays at his/her station, and the students rotate.

Solving your staffing problems can be challenging, but there is no limit to how wide and deep your pool of excellent teachers could be if you:

  • Stay true to your brand

  • Always consider what it is that compels parents to make a buying decision

  • Open your mind to other possibilities

  • Get organized with your rotation schedules to make the most of your staff's talents


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