Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yoga stress

I've been coordinating yoga classes at work once a week. See, I'm at an experiment station, which are great places to do ag research, but you don't have the advantage of being on campus with the rest of the university programs. The station has an agreement with a local college for Academic employees (grad students, post-docs, faculty) to use their facilities and fitness programs free of charge. Once I left grad school, I no longer had access to the yoga classes that I had been taking since 2003. A couple of summers ago, a clever post-doc got permission and a location so the teachers we had at the college could teach summer classes on our premises. It seemed this past year that there was enough interest from non-academic staff to keep the classes going over the winter.

Right now, these classes are one of the most stressful things in my life!

The teachers get a set fee, regardless of how many students show up and how much those students pay. The instructors get paid up front, which means they get paid through me, and then I collect money from everyone else. I have not made any money off these classes. I have paid for my attendace myself- whatever they pay, I pay, too. And now? I'm about $50 in the hole. Excellent.

The academic staff who normally take the classes for free were supposed to start showing up this month, since the college doesn't hold classes over the summer. But they haven't. And, of course, now they don't want to pay the full 4-week session fee when it's half over. I don't blame them, I guess. But I think the policy of a standard fee and paying up front, whether you show or not is pretty much the norm, right? I'm just annoyed. I had to raise the prices per 4 week session (which, incidentally, is still obnoxiously inexpensive. Anyone else out there getting 4 yoga classes for $25? From a fully certified teacher?), and I still can't manage to get myself out of the hole.

I realize this is a lame problem, and I feel like a whiny little wimp. I had a hard time getting to the point where I could say you pay the full fee or you don't. I'm always wanting to make exceptions, and I'd love to be able to offer a per class drop-in fee. But I don't have the wiggle room in my own finances to be waiting around for money to trickle in. I feel like I'm turning people away with this draconian payment plan (which it really isn't). If I were more flexible (which got me into this situation) I could probably get further out of the hole.

What really bothers me is that this situation reminds me that I'm not a natural business woman. I'm concerned about this, because being independently employed in various artistic pursuits one day will mean I need to figure this stuff out. I need to be able to represent myself well and be confident in charging whatever it is I charge. I hate feeling cheated and I hate feeling taken advantage of. But I'm not always very good at standing up when it comes to money. My inclination is always to undervalue my talents and services, at least financially. I don't know why. Perhaps that's why I've had financial problems in my life. I have a dysfunctional relationship with money. Maybe I need to read more Suze Orman so she can give me the courage to be wealthy or whatever. Plbbbbbbbbbt.

I've thought about my issue more since my browser froze and didn't let me publish right away.

I'm contemplating the following:
  1. Charging a 1/2 month fee for those people who want to start late (even though they were notified at the beginning of the session and it was for their own personal reasons they did not attend) to recoup more of my losses.
  2. Handing off the reigns to someone else. If no one else will take it over, then we simply won't have yoga this summer.
  3. Recommending to the next person to charge a fixed fee for the sessions and to hang on to any extra money for the lean winter months when attendance is spotty rather than refunding any extra, as was done last summer.
  4. Educating myself on the business of art so I don't run into these issues when it's my livelihood at stake in the future.

Does that sound like a good plan? Does anyone have any suggestions?

1 comment:

Beth said...

I am having the same issues. I also hae the same questions. I teach spinning though.
People just don't want to commit. I'm not sure what to do about it either. Although, the guy that owns the building I rent part of says that the prices are too cheap and so people don't value the service.
I don't know. I know that in the fall the poilicies are changing but...what if nobody comes.
I'm in the same boat.