Admit it, you’re a piano teacher that teaches at least one makeup lesson every week of the year, and you spend “summer” doing too many makeup lessons. You feel indebted to your students. When asked why you teach all the time, you say, “I have to make a living!” What if I told you that I have 12 months of revenue and have 8 to 10 weeks off each year and don't guarantee makeup lessons? Don't be a martyr. It’s all in the strategy!
I have a mortgage (and now) car payment that come up every month. The electricity needs paying each month, and I have recurring expenses (like food) that happen every month, so I like to have cash coming in just as regularly. Seems simple, right? If you're a piano teacher, you may have been conditioned to think in terms of monthly payments and you aren't comfortable charging 'tuition', but it really changes the tone if you think in a semester or annual format, and look at 'payments' as tuition.
Take a look at how I approach tuition collection...It’s actually quite simple. Each year has three semesters: Fall and Spring are 16 weeks and Summer has two or three different packages to choose from. When asked about an hourly rate, I say we don’t have one - think of it like private school tuition. Of course they can do their own math, but I do my best to psychologically set the tone for "I offer so much more value than the weekly 45 minutes I spend with your child." Parents are paying for teacher’s time spent with the student, but also for their time spent planning their child’s lesson, the teacher’s expertise, experience, education, professional development, etc...
We send out invoices through StudioHelper that show line items and include:
Email: Invoices for the entire semester are sent to each family two weeks before the semester tuition payment is due, or if paying in advance (see below) we send information out up to two months in advance of the Annual Discount that happens in February/March. We have quite a few families that take advantage of this promotion. We set the tone very carefully. It's imperative you regularly communicate your value through sharing your career highlights, your student highlights and all of the things you do to contribute to your community and your student's lives.
Newsletter: We also send out a brief reminder in our monthly newsletter of any financial information we think should be front and center, such as paying in full discounts. It gives everyone a 'heads up' so nobody is taken by surprise.
Voila! Three semesters (Fall, Spring and Summer) that have a set number of lessons so the same tuition amount due on the 1st of every month. Fall and Spring have 16 weeks, and you set summer according to what works for you and equate the value to three months tuition. You MUST ensure value. I cannot stress this enough.
Summer: I recommend a camp plus a few private lessons option, and another option that has mostly private lessons with a few group lesson options (older kids like this one.) The point is to add value and keep tuition as a set amount, that is due each month, or 4 times per year. During summer, all students should have 45 min or one hour lessons and come less frequently. We use SignUpGenius to schedule summer lessons according to availability. See our summer flyer for an example of our packages we offered this past year.
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