If you belong to a gym, I'm willing to bet my beautiful metronome, that you pay at the beginning of the month, in full.
Why? Because your gym wants to make money. If they were only paid when you showed, well, um . . . (never mine, I won't go there).
Gym members expect that. They pay that money every single month, even while knowing that chances are high they won't get their money's worth that month.
So, why do we have trouble asking that of our piano students? Especially when they will CERTAINLY be getting their money's worth in their lessons with you?
I know, I know -- charge at the beginning? In full? Who does that?
Well, I do. And it works beautifully.
Every single month, on the 1st of the month, my students pay tuition. They all pay the same rate, and it is due in full on the 1st.
Most months there are four lessons (four weeks). Some months there are only three, and still other months there are five.
Either way, the tuition is a flat rate.
The beautiful part of this is that it benefits both me and the piano student. They know exactly what their monthly piano lesson bill is, and I know exactly what my piano lesson income is.
Sound to good to be true? It isn't . . .
Getting there might feel a bit tricky, but it really entails three components:
1. A studio policy document that outlines how this works.
2. A monthly or quarterly studio calendar.
3. Accurate, on time billing.
So, let's start with how to communicate this with your students . . .
Step One: Your Studio Policy
The foundation of your studio, and all of your communication with your students, stems from this document. You absolutely have to have a clear, well written studio policy that outlines all sorts of details, but especially your payment policy.
Nothing will irk your clients more, than if things change in the billing department. For all but a few select students, piano lessons are a luxury, and so your clients (or their parents) are making sacrifices to pay for lessons. If you change things up, are erratic in how you bill, or how much you charge, you will cause them much undue stress. Trust me, they won't last long.
So, have a good studio policy. My studio policy outlines several things, but among them, are my payment policies including the following:
A. Piano lessons are $__________ per month.
B. Tuition is due on the 1st of each month.
C. Tuition is payable by personal check, paypal, or cash.
D. There is a late fee of $1 per day for any tuition paid after the 1st.
E. There is an annual registration fee of $ ________ per year.
F. Tuition rates are determined based on an annual calendar of (x) number of lessons for the year. Therefore, each month there will be 3, 4, or 5 lessons. Students are not paying for the teacher's time off, rather students are "buying" (x) number of lessons for the year.
With very few exceptions, my piano lesson clients over the years have both appreciated and accepted these payment policies. For those that have struggled with it, we have just agreed that I might not be the right teacher for them. No hard feelings.
My clients tell me all of the time how much they appreciate a regular tuition. My household tells me all the time how much it appreciates a regular paycheck. (smile).
So, to do this monthly tuition thing, know that it starts with your studio policies. But for a monthly tuition to work, you also need a good studio calendar and accurate, regular billing. We will tackle those other two elements in the upcoming blogs.
Unsure if your policies are in good shape? Need to craft one and don't know what you should include? Check out the resource Crafting Your Piano Lesson Policies: A Step by Step Resource.
Trust me, you'll be glad you did.