As a small business owner of a dance studio, you are a sometimes a ‘jack of all trades’ handling almost everything – you are the dance teacher, the accountant, the marketing manager, and so on. When it comes time to expand your business and you engage a contractor, you rely on them to take on a number of tasks. Of course, sometimes those that you rely on and trust the most can let you down.

One of the most common situations where business owners are forced to face this reality is when a dispute arises with a contractor. Of course, being in dispute with anyone (especially your dance contractor) can take a huge toll on your dance studio business and take valuable time away from your business. These conflicts can also lead to lost income, and can lead to significant costs if it goes to court. It is important that you have a clear understanding of how you should deal with these disputes with your contract if they arise (or even prevent them!).

Communicating with Contractors as a Dance Teacher

Too often, it is becoming a standard practice with disputes between a business and their contractor to threaten each other or legal proceedings. These threats have the opposite effect to the one you should be pursuing: a quick resolution of your matter. Of course, it is hard in the heat of the moment but try not to let your dance business fall into this trap.

What you should do first is have a conversation with your contractor. Try not to let this be a confrontational conversation but rather an open and honest conversation where your contractor feels comfortable. It’s always best if both parties don’t feel on the defensive. Sometimes it could just be that the problem is one of miscommunication rather than anything too serious. If it is then, you may be able to resolve things fairly quickly.

If not, then your initial discussion can lay the groundwork for the next stage in your dispute. At this point, it is advisable that you seek advice from a legal professional.

Mediation

There are several options available to you depending on the nature of the dispute and how your initial conversation with the dance contractor went. As a dance teacher, you don’t necessarily want to expend considerable time and money locked in dispute. One viable option is mediation. Mediation involves the parties in dispute engaging a neutral third party to help the parties reach an agreement (where possible). The mediator’s role is to listen to both sides, consider any evidence and assist the parties to negotiate an outcome. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes it is not. The ultimate aim of mediation is not to have a ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ but rather for both parties to reach an outcome that they can ‘live with’. As a small dance studio business, this is a good way to approach a dispute.

Failing a positive outcome at mediation (or depending on the type of dispute) then another option is to take your dispute to court. As the most adversarial mode of resolving a dispute, it is also very expensive and could take months or years to resolve. As a general rule, court proceedings should be used as a last resort where it is clear that no resolution is possible.

Key Takeaways

If you are looking to start your own dance studio business or expand your already existing dance studio business, it is good to be aware of your dispute resolution options when it comes to your contractor. Unfortunately disputes with contractors and are a fact of life. Knowing how to approach disputes, and when to engage disputes lawyers to assist with your dispute, is key to running a successful business.

Emma George

Next Steps

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