Finding reliable and talented teachers can be one of the trickiest (and most time consuming) aspects of owning a fitness studio. Your staff represents your business, and will likely spend a great deal of time interacting with your clients and community. How do you find those soulful and driven individuals to share your vision? And perhaps more importantly, how do you know if you’ve found the right fit? Leah Zaccaria, owner of Seattle yoga studios HauteYoga Queen Anne and Shefayoga Roosevelt, shares some insight about how to source inspiring instructors.

Being active in your community’s fitness scene is a must. “I try to stay connected to as many studios as possible by practicing and getting to know other teachers,” Zaccaria says. “By staying well connected, I know who the best teachers are in the city and I look to them to work at my studios if the need arises.” In addition to working out in your fitness community, try connecting with local, like-minded business owners—activewear shops could be a great start! Look into hosting classes for fundraisers or events near you.

It’s important to recognize what you’re looking for in a teacher, as well as identify what type of experience is necessary, before conducting interviews or reaching out to potential hires. How many staffers will be involved in the selection process, and how will you plan to review and assess prospective instructors’ performance? Zaccaria recommends asking for a resume if you don’t know the instructor, and conducting an audition before inviting the teacher onto the substitute list. From there, Zaccaria can monitor community feedback and if an opportunity for a permanent class arises, there are suitable teachers on-deck.

It takes more than a killer playlist and fancy sequencing to tell if a teacher is skilled in his or her craft. “I know if a teacher is a good fit for my studio if the teacher wants to invest in the community,” says Zaccaria, “meaning they want to know the student’s name, story, about their lives.” Another telling indicator of an instructor’s value is their commitment to better themselves. Are they willing to give and take feedback? Do they make time to practice the values and (physical activities) they teach? Zaccaria says the attributes she looks for most often in stellar instructors are authenticity, creativity, and confidence. In addition, Zaccaria looks for teachers who are able to act as students as well, always striving to continue their learnings.

The relationship between employer and staff should be valuable for both parties. If you want to attract top talent, you’ll need to be willing to offer something worthwhile. While attractive pay rates are an obvious tip, Zaccaria says there are other ways to incentivize instructors. “I give paid time off and also reimburse for some training during the year so they can continue to learn and find inspiration in their teaching.” Other incentives you can offer instructors include discounted or free access to your studio membership, job security and health benefits.

Be open and honest with your teachers about what is expected from them. Zaccaria schedules yearly formal evaluations with her instructors, which they can count on for consistent feedback and guidance. The formal process, which includes insight into retention, client feedback and system feedback, “gives them a space to express their concerns, ideas, and goals.” Pillars Zaccaria uses to evaluate instructors include consistency, stability, reliability, teamwork, community feedback, and retention rate—if teachers aren’t performing up to studio standards, there’s already a process in place.  “I sit down with them and coach them,” Zaccaria says, “offer feedback and goal setting, and let them know that they will be reevaluated in a few more months to assess their performance and their position as a teacher.