Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Business

Jessica's Piano Studio offers a new take on an old concept

WESLEY CHAPEL — Jessica's Piano Studio isn't an actual studio. At least, not in the traditional sense.

It doesn't operate out of a building. Instead, Jessica Benitez and her husband, Dan, provide a studio business model while allowing teachers to conduct lessons out of their own homes, churches or local nonprofits.

The studio has been open for nine months, but already has attracted eight teachers, about 45 students and expanded from Wesley Chapel to include Spring Hill and Greenville, S.C., where the Benitezes went to college. The building-less model allows teachers to be paid more and allows the business to offer lessons in a variety of locations throughout several towns.

New students of all ages can contact teachers directly through the studio website and schedule a free trial lesson. Then, if a student decides to continue, classes cost $25 per half-hour lesson, $37.50 for 45 minutes, or $50 for an hour.

Before opening her own studio, Benitez, 28, had been teaching piano lessons through an online studio. It conducted business over the Internet but still had an office with overhead, which meant a smaller cut of the proceeds for teachers. The studio also didn't attract many new clients. In one year, Benitez taught only 12 students, retaining just six regulars.

"We just felt like we could do better," Benitez said.

In just nine months of running her own studio, Benitez teaches five times the students she had before and is better compensated for her work.

"Typically a studio charges around $25 and they split it 50-50 with the teacher, so the teacher gets 50 percent and then (the studio covers) overhead," Dan Benitez said. "And I always thought it just didn't seem right to me that a teacher who's doing the work should get 50 percent. I just thought it didn't seem like a fair amount."

After nearly a year of brainstorming, the couple opened their studio in December, forgoing a building. The reduced overhead allows teachers to be keep 80 percent of the proceeds.

Benitez teaches a full roster of lessons, supporting herself, Dan, 32, and their three toddler sons, allowing the proceeds from the business to be reinvested. Dan volunteers as a church elder and handles the business, doing billing and marketing for their teachers, along with running the website.

"We don't want to be in the forefront. We want to be in the background," Dan said. "We want the teachers to be able to build that relationship (with the students) without having to worry about the billing and marketing and all that tedious stuff."

Because the pay is significantly higher than what other studios offer, Dan says, the couple can be discriminating in the interview process. All teachers have background checks and the couple makes sure to interview their teachers in person, even if that means traveling out of state.

Jessica looks for teachers who appeal to students' needs in the way that she does.

"I have one little boy who loves basketball and anything about basketball he will just love," she said. "So one week, he was kind of discouraged about a song and I pulled out this song about basketball. And he's like, 'Oh, yeah, I can do that.' . . . It was neat. It just kind of got him back on track."

Jessica asked one of her former professors from Bob Jones University in Greenville, Shelley Johansen, to serve as the director of that branch of the studio.

"At first, it sounded too good to be true," Johansen said. "They had all these children signing up and were retaining them."

The college professor and owner of Johansen Music Academy jumped at the opportunity to work with the Benitezes.

"The way that Dan handles the business side of it frees the teacher to do what the teacher loves to do," she said. "That is teaching, enjoying music and instilling the love of music in those students."

Samantha Fuchs can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6235.

 
Comments
Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really don’t like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 11 hours ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Published: 12/12/17
Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

TAMPA — Punit Shah’s Liberty Group announced plans Tuesday to start construction in January on a Channel District project that will include a Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, both by Hilton, plus a Starbucks Coffee.Financing for the $40 million project ...
Published: 12/12/17
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Published: 12/12/17
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Published: 12/12/17