A Wish or a Policy? Write It Down
I loved my little piano student. She was a sweetheart and I looked forward to seeing her every week.
Her mother, while also a sweetheart, struggled with, um how should I say it, paying her bill.
And that got frustrating after awhile.
You see, every month I would invoice the mom and there was always a reason as to why she couldn't pay it on time. The problem was, they were just excuses.
No, before you start thinking I'm being harsh, I want you to compare these two comments:
Oh, I didn't pay you, I forgot. Sorry, I'll get to it.
I'm sorry I didn't pay you. My husband lost his job, but I am getting my tax refund next week and I will pay you the moment that comes in.
Now, neither of these people paid, but isn't there one you understand a bit more than the other?
Yes, of course.
Anyway, enough defending myself. Back to this one mother . . .
So, she wouldn't pay on time, month after month. And I was getting increasingly frustrated. And, I'm going to be honest, it was very hard to keep my feelings about the piano student pleasant, in light of how frustrating the piano parent was. (Anyone relate?)
This was many years ago, when I was first starting out, and as I look back on that experience, I know that I have no one to blame but myself.
You see, I didn't have a payment policy. Oh, I had definitely set my prices and told my clients when the payment was due, but I had no actual policy -- something written down and clearly expressed to my clients.
So, of course, I ran in to problems.
The truth is, I was expecting my piano students to pay me in a certain way at a certain time of the month. But, because I didn't have a written payment policy (that the clients had to read and sign), those expectations were just wishes.
Expectations not in writing are just wishes. Your clients (and you) deserve to know ahead of time how this works and what the expectations are.
As time went on, and I experienced this frustrating phenomenon more and more, I finally got wise and realized that the payment policy needed to be expressed and written down.
It doesn't matter if you have 2 students or 200, your policies, particularly when it comes to payment procedures, need to be written down.
In my current studio, of course, I have clients who still pay late, but they include their late payment. Why? Because its in the policy document.
Sometimes, I even have clients who ask to just double pay me next month instead of this month? I say "I'm sorry, no". Why? Because its in the policy document.
When it is written down, when your students have to sign it ahead of time, it helps eliminate confusion on your client's part and frustration on yours. Isn't that worth it?
So, dear Piano Teacher Friend, stop wishing your clients would do a certain thing, and actually write it down. You'll be glad you did.