'It's like driving a Ferrari'
Everywhere we look right now, there seems to be news of the recession. The cost of living crisis is being reported on round the clock, inflation is driving prices up, and there are reports of business closures every day. Against this dismal backdrop, how can we, as music teachers, keep our music students engaged and excited to learn when money is tight? How can we keep our student retention high and keep growing our student list?
Firstly, you have to believe, with your whole heart, that you can! You are a skilled music teacher, and a valuable asset to their education, their mental well-being, and their life. You have pursued a career in music because you love it, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t charge your worth and prosper. There is enough money to go around, and enough students who can pay you for your time. You have to believe this.
And then, when you’re feeling confident that this is all going to be ok, follow these steps:
1) Make yourself indispensable
Look at your entire customer journey, from the very first contact, to the initial lesson, to the ongoing learning experience. Be as helpful and informative as you can, and always think about how you can add value. When families have the conversation about what can be cut from their household expenditure, we need to make sure the answer isn’t ‘music lessons’.
- Could you send a little video or voice note to a young student, to introduce yourself and help them to feel at ease? This should always be sent to a parent/guardian, and never directly to a student.
- Could you follow up with a couple of parents each week with a quick message to say how well their child is progressing?
- Do you reply to all enquiries promptly and helpfully? And do you follow-up with people after that first contact?
- What do you love about companies that you buy from? What can you learn from them?
2) Set goals, and give them a date
These could be to sit an exam, to perform in a concert or competition, to learn a new piece of repertoire - anything that is going to inspire them! Once students are on a path to achieving a particular goal, they won’t want to get off. Setting attainable goals, mapping out steps to achieving them, and motivating your students on their way to doing so, is an excellent way to see results. Students will work harder, and parents will continue to see the value of your lessons.
3) Take a look at your pricing, but do not lower your fees
The more money people spend on something, the more time and energy they will invest to make it work for them. Ensuring your prices reflect your value will encourage your students to do the work inbetween lessons to keep them progressing, and they will therefore see higher value in your teaching.
There are things you can do however to make lessons more affordable:
- Consider moving to a monthly payment system, with the cost of lessons spread throughout the year. For example, if you charge £20 per 60-minute lesson, parents could be a facing a bill of £140 for a 7 week half-term. However, setting up a standing order or monthly payment plan, where 39 lessons per year are split into 12 monthly payments, brings the cost down to £60.00 per month. This also creates a more balanced and sustainable income for you, without large fluctuations in income.
- Introduce multiple pricing levels. For example, your lowest cost option could be group lessons, your mid-range option could be 1:2:1s, and your premium option could be intensive 1:2:1s with added extras such as workshop admission or additional support between lessons. This allows you to offer the option of different prices if a family is struggling with affordability, and also allows you to earn an additional fee for those who want more.
4) Create 'FOMO' around your lessons
Parents love to celebrate their kids, right? And they want to be sure that they are receiving the very best? Create a buzz of excitement around your teaching by spotlighting students and building a community within your practice.
- Could you host a concert, inviting students to perform to each other and their families?
- Could you run some workshops, focusing on the latest musical trend
- Are there any charities you could support and collaborate with?
- Could you run a competition, and share the winners on social media?
Make your teaching space the place to be and get people talking about you and how you make them feel. This is always the most important aspect of customer satisfaction and, ultimately, their investment in you as their teacher.
Right now, it is a time for us all to dig deep, to take big breaths, and to keep pushing forwards. Now is the time to be a trailblazer, showing others the way, and ensuring that your teaching practice is more robust than ever. Better times are coming, and you will always look back with such pride, to know that you did all you could to thrive in the face of adversity.
Lauren Elliot is the founder and director of Music Monsters, a teaching studio with branches in Solihull, Woodford and South Birmingham. For more blogs from Lauren, please visit her website.
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