Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Is it time for an audit of your private studio? Part 2

If your private studio is thriving, you may not need any advice on how to set yourself apart from area colleagues (or you may find yourself coming back to this advice when the market becomes more flooded and your numbers are decreasing, which can always happen in the future!). But if you're new to a region, and/or struggling to maintain the numbers you would like in your studio, it's probably time to up your game. Here are some ideas to visit, or revisit if it's been a while.

Creating your Mission Statement (pedagogical philosophy) [Here’s mine.]
  • Who do you teach? Age, ability levels
  • What’s your style? Strict, laid back, nurturing environment, college prep…
  • Goals for your students
  • Teaching methods: special certifications, techniques, genres…
Creating a Calendar (what will you offer, and when?)

  • Lessons
    • How many per term
    • How many terms
  • Recitals
  • Ensembles
  • Group Classes
Studio Policies (essentials for your syllabus/contract) [Here’s mine.]
  • Make-up / no-show policy
  • Required supplies (music, instrument in working order, etc.)
    • Recommended places to obtain said supplies
  • How do you define preparation, and what do you do when a student hasn’t done it?
  • Required performances
    • Participating
    • Attending
Developing Something Special / Distinguishing Yourself
  • What do other area teachers offer? What’s missing that you could offer?
  • What are your particular interests and specialties? How could you incorporate them?
    • Create a “complete curriculum” based on your mission statement.
    • Emphasize your special certifications
  • Offer a finite set of coachings for specific purposes (All-State preparation, chamber music coaching…)
  • Ensembles/group classes
  • Community outreach
  • Guest artist series with local friends/colleagues
  • Branding: logo, comprehensive website with areas for use by current students, social media presence…
  • Help students stay motivated
    • Scheduling musical activities/challenges
    • Competitions
    • Creating a sense of community: parties, small ensembles…
    • How does your mission statement reflect this?
  • Parental involvement
    • What level of involvement do you prefer?
    • Presence (or not) in lessons
    • Help with recitals and other activities
    • Producing results that they can see and appreciate (this can also be stated clearly in your mission statement)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Is it time for an audit of your private studio? Part 1

Whether you're starting from scratch, seeing a decline in returning students, or are currently at the helm of a robust studio, we all benefit from an occasional audit of our business model. And the end of summer is the best time to try out some new techniques to help your studio thrive in any market!

There's so much to cover that I'm going to break this up into two posts, but today's outline covers the basics--no matter where you are, you need a teaching space, students, and a way to collect payment. And if you haven't thought about this stuff in a while, it's worth a quick glance to see what a fresh approach might do to revitalize your studio!
Recruiting Students
  • Make flyers and business cards advertising your studio (I like https://www.canva.com/)
  • Contact local public school teachers to
    • Distribute advertising materials
    • Offer a free workshop to their students
  • Join an online matchmaking site like lessonface.com or TakeLessons.com
  • Join local or state teaching groups
    • MTNA local affiliate (https://www.mtna.org/)
    • NAfME local affiliate (https://nafme.org/)
    • Instrument-specific organization (like flute club, etc.)
  • Perform and adjudicate locally

Creating a Studio Space
  • Considerations for home space
    • Waiting area
    • Parking
    • Creating a professional-looking space that is always set up for lessons
    • Issues with sound mitigation / interruptions
    • Liability insurance? [Read more here.]
  • Other possible spaces: must explore financial and other obligations with each
    • Local church
    • Local school (after school or pull-out lessons during ensemble rehearsals)
    • Music store (independently rent a room or work as teaching staff)

  • What to charge?
    • Consider level of education and expertise when setting a price
    • Ask area colleagues
    • Consult with local private teachers’ organizations or public school teachers
    • Do a Google search in your area
    • If using an outside space (see above), consult with your contact about rules
  • Accepting payment
    • Credit card with a reader (like SquareUp)
    • PayPal (business vs. personal account)
    • Cash (offer discount or other perk if you prefer?)
    • Personal check
  • Payment schedule
    • Options include per lesson, beginning of the month, end of the month for previous services…
    • Late policy
    • Keep records with dates, check numbers, etc.

My next post will cover more creative ways to set your studio apart, as well as giving advice on creating a cohesive curriculum and promo materials.