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Hi guys,

Hopefully someone here can share some knowledge with me about standard Head Pro compensation.  My tennis club is about to embark on a Head Pro search.  We've been lucky to have a great Pro for 30 years which I understand is unheard of in the industry.  This year he is retiring and we would like to review and refine the contract and make sure that it matches the current industry standards.

I have a couple of questions right off the top:

1.  Is the Head Pro usually hired as an independent contractor or an employee of the Club?

2.  What percentage of the lesson and clinic fees go to the Club to cover maintenance costs?

3.  Are these fees normally paid to the Pro and then a cut goes to the club or visa versa?

4.  Is it standard to include a clause to ensure that the Head Pro is physically at the Club for a certain number of hours a day and days a week, etc.?

5.  Is the Pro Shop sometimes the responsibility of the Head Pro?

Any other insights you can offer me?

Thanks in advance,


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I have been both an independent contractor at one club which was terrible, and an employee of the club--which is always better.  Basically, if you are a decent pro, you won't accept the independent contractor unless they give you complete control of the courts, which very few clubs will do. 

our percentages were skewed to the club.  we had levels of pros--uncertified and certified pros plus years of service.  the non-certified pros were basically paid hourly about 10 dollars while the certified pros based on uspta pro 1's got like 18, pro 2 got like 16.  and pro 3's got like 14.  this went up by $1 per year of service.   group and privates were no distinction.  I was at this club for 10 years so my salary was 33 dollars, because when they changed to the certified pro levels, I got a 5 dollar bump.  I started at 16.  

but we did give special group lesson rates where the pro gets 60% per player in the group minimum 5 max 12, but to qualify for this, you had to be there 3 years and be certified.  This was a huge money maker and I did these clinics off-season--during the breaks in our schedule.  We ran a school based model.  A five day camp with 24 kids paying $30 per clinic a day, well it's a lot of fun for them and me.

the lesson rate was 50 US six years ago, group lessons were paid for by term but it was like 20 lessons at like $12 a lesson., the group lessons formed the basis of funding for the entire program.  Privates were just for service to the clients as the money from them was like $20 while the profit off the groups were like $100.

As an independent contractor, my cut was about 60% of the lesson at my tiny club, but I had to get all my lessons.  We also had lights so my last lesson was sometimes 10 at night.  I had full control of the courts and could run events but didn't get any money from tournaments, but if I did a clinic, it was still the same cut.  I felt it was fair as I had to hustle for my own lessons whereas when i was salary, the lessons were all there already.

4.  I think if you want the best deal to make your pro happy, you pay them a base salary and this includes running events and certain hours of the day required, give them  two days off if possible or a day and a half, and then, allow them to work commission on extra hours--so if they want to work extra, it's their option.  It's important to have them have a day off to keep the pro fresh.  also, try to include professional development in their program.  Once, you are salary, you are a professional tennis instructor and should be treated as such.

example--pro makes 30 k a year base, which entails coming in to give lessons for the club about 15 hours a week, he is required to do pro things a remaining 15 hours a week.  This makes a very happy tennis pro and is fair.

5.  you add in pro shop duties--it might be better to hire a legit retail manager to work with the pro to promote and sell.  BECAUSE if your pro leaves, your pro shop leaves also.  Plus the accounting and buying gets complicated for legal purposes.

it really depends on the size of your club, the amount of clientele, and duties.  When I was the head pro and an independent contractor, our lesson base was tiny and the shop was a three person operation.  When I was assistant head pro with a salary, we had 21 pros under us and ran lessons 2-4 hours a day with about 500 students in the program.  In that scenario, only the three head pros were salary while the others were all commission/hourly.

The dream job for any pro is the salary plus commission job and less hours on court--the aging pro can't manage more than 20 hours on court and be effective.  I loved being on court so I had flexibility built into my salary to be on court, BUT if I made more than 5000 US in commission in addition to my salary, then, I would be working for free.  I hit that mark in 9 months--what is the point of that clause?  You can budget my salary plus commission.  and I was fine working the remaining two months without the commission--I still did the lessons but I didn't actively push new ones--so it created sharing--i pushed any new lessons onto other pros.

The salary is based on the amount of revenue for your club, because if the revenue is small, perhaps a salary model is unfair.  Another sneaky way to do it, is to see how one year goes with your contractor and then, offer them a salary based on their performance.  Including bonuses based on number of new clients, events, etc is advisable.

Thanks Gary.  Did you find it difficult to make a living if you were only getting 60% of the lesson and clinic fees?  In this case, was the club recruiting the players and doing all the marketing or were you responsible for that?

V, Bill, Gary and whoever else,

My goal, and I think the goal of most members, is to grow our membership and create a dynamic and active club.  Right now we are a bit sleepy, and have the smallest membership numbers since the mid 80's.  There is very little organized tennis activity - I'm thinking group lessons and clinics.  The junior program does not have a lot of students either.  We have some popular under 10 groups, but they either leave tennis or go to another club in town that has more action by the time they are 10 or 11. 

Can you guys talk about how to build a strong tennis program and create that buzz around a facility and a junior program too?

Our club is considering strongly to do a base payment (a stipend if you will) and then about 70 to 80% of lesson fees to the pro.  In a case like this, what is normal for the base pay? 

Also, there has been talk of a structure that incentivizes the pro to do more lessons/ programs.  This structure pays the Pro a fixed base pay, and then the pro only starts earning the lesson fees once the base pay is reached, after that it is all gravy for the Pro.  Is anyone familiar with this model?  Thanks

the difference between head pro and tennis director is the amount of time on court.

I TELL you later tonight when i get the chance on what the offer should be mark.

Great.  Please post it in here where everyone can benefit from it.  I am especially interested in a fair balance between the club and the pro, and how to build a strong tennis program at a sleepy club.

Interesting.  Can you elaborate on the new post here?

Thanks, V!

1. My opinion is that the best arrangement is independent contractor.  That way, the head pro has freedom to oversee their program without interference, and is not required to do excessive meetings.  The benefit for the club is easy severence at the end of a contract term.  Realize that the first year will have bumps in the road with a culture change to a new pro.

2. Consider that the club makes its money from dues.  The Tennis Program is a service that adds value to the club.  Maintenance costs are covered by club dues.  Paying top dollar for a pro who is GREAT will pay dividends.  Offering less, will attract a lesser pro, and will not be as much of a service benefit.   90% to the pro is best.  taking 10 or 20% more for the club will make a small amount more for the club, but handcuff the pro. Pro's that are well paid, can in turn higher strong staff, instead of low budget staff.

3. Its best for the Club to collect all monies.  Period.   

4. If independent contractor, you can't do that.   However you can tell them it's highly desireable and a major factor in conctract renewal.  I live at the club when I work at one.  People are suprised "What are you doing here, nothing is going on?"  "I'm here to talk to you right now"

5. Pro shops are best run by the club, but adding an incentive to the pro for referrals, and consulting with pro as to what sells or not

6. Make it a slow process.  Know how much competition their is in your area for Tennis Professionals.  Survey other clubs about how they compensate, be the top compensation club, get the best people. 

I really appreciate your insight Bill - any chance you are moving to ABQ?  Just kidding.  It really sounds like you know a lot about these contracts and arrangements.  In a case where the Pro is a contractor and he gets all or 90% of instruction fees, does he also get a monthly payment from the club or is he responsible for earning money through his own instruction and clinics, etc.? 

Our current contract does require the IC pro to be at the club 4 or 5 days a week, but does not set min number of hours.  So it would be possible for the pro to zip in, check email and leave and this would meet the contract.

What about when non-members come for lessons and clinics?  Surely the club gets a bigger cut in these situations. Right?


here in atlanta its a 70/30 split and anywhere between 5k to 10k of salary. you only give salary if there is administration duties or clay court maintenance. but you cannot prevent crappy pros either. any head pro will have to make sales, unless the tennis director has established a clientele base. if there is no clientele base of ready to go lessons a salary can help keeping a pro around until he builds a base. the tennis director should be doing all the admin and hiring work. and should have little time on court while the head pro will be running the on court under the orders of the tennis director.

a tennis director of any capacity,adults junior etc.....  salary range can be from 16k to 100k depending on size and volume for the club.

so if you have only 2 courts in a neighborhood. you can even set the classes yourself, and contract a pro to be there for certain times and pay for the hour that they are there. which can be better for a  community tennis court.

so if its a seasonal position then you will want a contract. if its a year round position, i want the job.


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