Ask the Experts: Problems with Bartering Structure

My receptionist, with whom I “exchange services,” has a passive-aggressive attitude lately and is getting caught up in mom drama. How should I handle this?

Bartering is complicated. Because it doesn’t operate like a typical employer-employee relationship, exchanging services with someone means that many studio owners feel they don’t have control over job performance. And if it’s not documented properly, bartering can bring serious legal and tax implications if you are audited. Use this negative turn in your receptionist’s behavior as an opportunity to potentially change the way you run your business. Talk with your accountant to determine if there are any real tax benefits to bartering, as opposed to paying a receptionist wages.

If, after review, you decide to stay with the bartering structure, we recommend you meet with your entire staff to go over the guidelines and expectations you have in place for working at the studio. Discuss your philosophy and mission statement, and set up a regular performance review process.

Change can be difficult, and your receptionist may continue to be a problem, even if you reduce her role at the studio. When you implement these new management practices, she may decide that she no longer wants to be in this role or is unwilling to change. At this point, you must follow through and make necessary changes in staff. The people on your team must be able to implement and uphold your policies and procedures with professionalism, regardless of your history, your relationship or how you pay them.

For more information, see irs.gov/uac/Four-Things-to-Know-About-Bartering-1.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.