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How to Attract the Best Teachers to your Shop

Posted By Jessica Cook, , Tuesday, July 05, 2016

If you offer classes in your retail store, then you know how valuable it can be to provide your customers with an enriching and educational experience. When your customer knows more about her craft, and she gained that knowledge in your shop, she’ll keep coming back for more - more classes, more supplies, more great stuff from you!

So how do you make that happen? You start by hiring top-quality teachers to provide the instruction for your classes.

Find the Best Teachers

The first step is to find the best teachers in the first place - instructors with proven experience in helping people learn their craft. The easiest way to do this is to pay attention. Keep your eyes and ears open for references and recommendations of local people in your area who are great teachers.

Here are some ways to find the people in your community who might become the best teachers for your shop:

  • Ask your customers! Who taught them to {insert the name of a craft medium here}? Who helped them on their last project when they got stuck and couldn’t figure it out? It could be that their neighbor, co-worker, or a friend from their local knit night is a great teacher, and YOU can be the one to hire that person!

  • Listen for reviews of local events. If you’ve got local craft shows, retreats, or educational events in your area, when the event is over it’s your job to find out two things: 1) Who taught the classes at the events? And 2) Were they any good at it? Get names of the best teachers from these local events and contact those people to see if they would be interested in teaching in your shop on a regular basis.

  • Host a craft night for your customers. Get a group of people to come together and have an open craft night in your shop, and then observe carefully. Who has the best skill set in the group? Which person is the one most likely to lean over someone else’s work and give them assistance when they get stuck? Who is most likely to be the one answering the questions that the other members of the group ask? That person just might be your next teacher!

  • Advertise. Put up a sign in your shop to let your customers know that you are open to proposals from prospective teachers. Encourage your customers to become your next teacher, and work with them to develop an idea for a future class.

Once you get a good pool of teachers, the next step is to keep them! Not only will consistency in your classes provide your customers with a reliable source of information, but as your teachers have more experience working in your store, they will be more of an asset to your team.

Tips for Keeping Teachers Happy

Make sure you’re providing a quality working experience for the teachers you hire, and they’ll keep coming back with new classes to offer.

Here are some ways to make your teachers happy to work for you:

  • Pay them well. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who have taught for the big-box stores, being expected to come in for a 3-hour class and leave with $5 in their pockets. Don’t be the big-box stores! Pay your teachers a fair wage - remember, these are experts in their field and you are paying for their specialized knowledge.

  • Respect their time. Work with your teachers to plan out a schedule in advance. If a class doesn’t fill, give adequate notice to the teacher that it will have to be canceled, so that he has time to make other plans. Do your part to ensure that the classes start and end on time - don’t let customers show up too early, too late, or hold the teacher after class.

  • Give them adequate space to work. A classroom works best when everyone in the class can see the teacher, when she can easily reach all of the students and see their work, and when the classroom space is isolated a bit from the rest of your shop. A card table in the corner isn’t a good place to teach a class!

  • Show your appreciation. Thank your teachers when their class session ends. If a student comes to you and raves about a great teacher, share that positive review with the teacher. Post a note on your website singing your teacher’s praises. Offer your teachers a small “employee discount” in your shop, or send them a card on their birthday. Little gestures add up to make a positive working environment for everyone.

Do you have any tips we’ve missed for finding and keeping the best teachers in town? Share them with us in the comments - let’s learn together!

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