How Do I Increase Piano Tuition Without a Revolt?

How to increase piano tuition without a revolt in your piano studio | composecreate.com

In the online workshop “The Best Stress-free Business Practices for Your Studio” we discuss why it’s important for teachers to keep up with inflation and in general, raise their prices a little every year. With the wonderful conversations we’ve had about this on Facebook and in the comments, I thought it might be good to share step by step instructions on how to increase piano tuition (if you have to) without a revolt. Whether or not you make a large increase is up to you and you have to weigh all your variables (the demographics of your clientele, whether you have a waiting list, whether or not you have enough students to begin with) to make a good decision.

How to Increase Piano Tuition:

1. Make sure your price is competitive.

Make sure you have not out-priced yourself in your community. Call your competitors or check their websites to see what they are charging. See what the dance studios are charging for private and group lessons. See what it costs to participate in a sport for a semester (make sure you aren’t checking places like the YMCA because they get private subsidies to offer cheaper prices and last time I checked, we don’t get those). Read this post for more on this topic.

2. Make a big to-do about all your studio is doing before you increase piano tuition.

Sample Front Page Newsletter

It doesn’t have to be this fancy. I used a template in Mac’s Pages for this.

This is most important. Make an attractive newsletter (use a template from your word processing program or if that’s too daunting, just an email with headings put in bold and good formatting) that outlines the following in a positive way:

  • All the things you offered in your studio in the last year I did this one year and was amazed at all the opportunities that I had forgotten about. In a year’s time, you offer so much for your students and parents are so busy that they just forget about your summer camp, 2 recitals, NFMC events, composition contests, group lessons, performance classes, piano parties, visits to the nursing home to share music, memorized pieces (you could list the total number of memorized pieces amongst all your students in a year),etc. Just make a bulleted list of these offerings so that they know that there was so much more to the year than just private lessons.
  • All your student’s accomplishments It may take some time, but naming each student and something amazing they did (even if it’s only that they mastered eighth notes in the year) is important validation to parents.
  • Special student awards Did any of your students win anything? Tell the whole studio about it because that gets them excited about the possibility of their child winning too!
  • All the things YOU did to make you a better teacher for THEIR child Remember that you always need to frame what you do by how it benefits your clients. Did you attend a national conference, summer workshops, chat for hours with piano teaching groups online, get a book published, write an article, set up a website, make worksheets, etc.? Parents need to know about these things and about how they help you be a better teacher for their child.
  • Pictures of events A picture is worth a thousand words, so if you have pictures of their children having a great time at group lessons or getting an award, include it in the newsletter!
  • Anything special that you will be doing in the coming year Maybe you are going to be revolutionizing your students rhythm skills by using Rhythm Menagerie, or doing the Rhythm Manipulations World-Wide Challenge, or entering students in NFMC events, or be doing group lessons, or Rhythm Cup Explorations. Tell parents about these things! Communicate excitement about the coming year. Of course, if you don’t know what you are doing in the coming year, then just make a general statement at the bottom like:

    I look forward to continuing to offer all of these opportunities for your child again next year!

  • Nothing else Don’t talk about how you are going to increase rates for the next year or how you are going to a no makeups policy. That’s going to come later .This newsletter is all about the benefits of being in your studio!

3. Announce your piano tuition increase with their point of view in mind.

A few weeks after the positive, energetic newsletter that you send, send them your new policy where you increase piano tuition. You’ll probably need to draw attention to the new changes as most parents will only glance at your newsletter. So, in your email or cover letter, be sure to include some explanation. And always, always, always talk about changes and how they are going to positively impact your client, not yourself!

Tuition changes:

For example, if you are switching to a tuition based system (which I strongly recommend), then frame it this way:

DO thisThis year, I have reworked my tuition structure such that it will be much easier for you to budget for lessons. No longer do you have to wonder how much you because the annual tuition will be evenly divided into xx payments! This will help free up time and energy for both you and I since we will no longer wonder how much lessons are at the end of the month.

That is so much better than this:

Not thisI will no longer be charging by the week, but will be doing a yearly tuition based system. I need a payment structure where I can have a predictable income and the current system is not working for me. This will help me to be able to live comfortably and not worry about whether or not I have a reliable income from month to month.

Do you see the difference? Again, just so we are clear…do the 1st way, NOT the 2nd!

Makeup lesson changes:

Here’s where you might need to talk about the effect that make up lessons has had on you, so that you can in turn talk about the effect that it’s having on them:

In the last few years, I have come to realize that the number of makeup lesson I have been giving has added such a huge stress to my life that I haven’t been able to give students the energy that they deserve in their lesson time. I will now be offering some great alternatives if you cannot make your lesson (like lesson swaps or Facetime/Skype lessons), but will no longer be giving make up lessons. This will allow me to give every child the energy and instruction they deserve since I will be now able to spend appropriate time planning lessons instead of making up lessons. Please be assured that your tuition is always working for your child as I spend a great deal of time outside of lessons choosing repertoire, planning, strategizing, attending competitions, etc. So, even if you have to miss a lesson and cannot use the alternatives offered, you don’t have to worry about receiving less for your tuition. You’ll be receiving more energy, enthusiasm and a more successful lesson each week since I will have the appropriate time to give.

Be sure to read “A Step-by-step Guide on How to Move to a No Makeups Policy” for further information.

4. Deal with exceptions as they come.

It’s very possible that there might be a family or two in your studio that really can’t financially manage a big tuition change. The possibility of this is never a reason NOT to change your tuition when you’ve determined that you should. But, you should determine before you make any changes whether or not you have room in your budget to offer a scholarship should a need arise. You have to use wisdom and common sense in determining if this is a real need with a family, but be sure to deal with these exceptions as they come and don’t make any studio wide decision based on the possibility that some may not be able to afford your change. Be sure you are signed up for the ComposeCreate newsletter so that you can receive helpful articles like this through the year. I only send newsletters when there is something helpful to share and I’d love to be able to share with you regularly, though hopefully not annoyingly. I sure hope this helps if you need to make any big changes this year! Remember that you should always do what is best for yourself and your family first and then factor in the impact it has in your community. No one says you have to make these changes, but you’ll know deep down inside if you should make them. Don’t forget that you can get a complete guide to an effective and enforceable policy here:

What are your thoughts on how to increase piano tuition without a revolt?

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