To Bill (Piano Lessons) or Not to Bill
It's nearing the first of the month and you are running out of grocery money. If you're like me, your eyeball is glued to that calendar, counting the days. Can we make it until payday? Can I make that half a can of tuna stretch through seven meals? (Ok, fine, I might be exaggerating a little bit).
It might not be quite that bad, but the truth is, I do need to be paid on time by my students and I know you do to. (Remember, we're not doing this for free, right?)
So, how do you ensure that they do?
I know that there are many piano teachers who take an "I'm not going to bill them because they know when the due date is" approach to this whole thing. And while, yes, in a perfect world, our clients should remember and pay us on time. But you and I both know, it's not a perfect world and their lives are as crazy as yours!
Your clients forget due dates. They just do. They don't mean to stiff you, but the truth is that they are trying to remember to pick up their prescription, and return their library books, and pay the mortgage on time. Your piano lesson fee due date? Often on the back burner.
So why not help them out? Sending a monthly statement electronically can be very helpful for both of you -- they get the reminder and you are more likely to get paid on time.
In fact, if you use a bill pay system like Paypal, you are even more likely to get paid on time. Often its just way more convenient for your client to pay online and you have the satisfaction of knowing you billed them, receiving notice they paid you, and moving on from there.
Now here is where purists wiill argue with me that that hits your bottom line because companies like Paypal take a small percentage fee when you use them. My answer to that is always this: Yes, I lose 2% of the payment, but I'd rather do that than not get 100% of my payment because the client forgot or couldn't pay me online.
I chalk that 2% (or whatever exact percentage rate your company does) to a business fee and it is worth every single penny. I can track payments, I can send reminders, and most importantly, I know they received their bill.
And the reality is, in my piano lesson career, it has been those clients who will not pay online that have the tendency to possibly pay late. Writing that check, remembering to bring it to their lesson, or get it in the mail on time is problematic. I get it -- I pay my tennis lesson fee that way, and it is so easy to forget my checkbook! They are great students and well meaning, but they do find it a little bit more difficult to pay in a timely fashion.
Whereas the person who is paying me online (because yes, they got that electronic Paypal reminder) generally pays on time. It's easy, it's fast, and they can check it off their list. Plus, many of them are used to doing that with all of their other bills, whether it is through electronic payment or bill pay through their bank, so this is just one more bill to take care of with their other responsibilities.
So, to bill or not to bill? BILL. Every single month. Make it easy for them, and they will pay. And you can buy another can of tuna!