What’s Your Piano Lesson Agreement to Terms Good for?

In the last Dollars and Sense post, I told you about the elements that are essential to a good piano lesson Agreement to Terms. And in our upcoming “Stress-free Business Practices” webinar, we’ll talk about all the policies that will help you run a smoother, less stressful studio! But, what are piano lesson Agreement to Terms good for? Here are some questions that are sometimes asked by independent music teachers:

Ah yes, sometimes even those that sign our agreement still do not abide by our policies. Even if you are the most timid and non-confrontational teacher (this used to be me, so I can empathize), it’s important to be pro-active and firm in keeping your policies. As soon as an issue arises, tackle it head on, but in a kind way. Parents are busy, and parents forget! So, keeping those things in mind will help you to address these issues in a kind and empathetic way.

Is my piano lesson “Agreement to Terms” really a contract?

It depends on how you have it set up. Did you define your terms clearly (like reference the document that spells out exactly to what they are agreeing)? Did you have a competent adult sign it? Do you have this signed agreement in your possession? If all of these things are in place, then chances are, it will be considered a contract by law. But please consult an actual attorney in your state or country about your specific contract.

Will My Agreement To Terms Allow Me to take them to court or send them to collections?

This is again a question for an attorney, and I am certainly not one. But I can almost guarantee that an attorney will at least tell you this:

  1. The time, energy, and money you will expend in the effort of collecting money through legal channels will almost certainly not be worth it.
  2. You could send them to collections, especially if it is a substantial amount of money. Keep in mind that you will only get a percentage of what you owe if you use a collection agency, but traditionally, they do the grunt work and footwork for you in collecting your payment. If it is small amount of money, you may find your time better spent forgetting about the debt and marketing for new students.
  3. Why did you allow them to get this far behind in payment in the first place? 🙂
    [That’s the attorney asking, not me!]

In all seriousness, there is no reason that a family should owe you a lot of money. As soon as a payment is late, I would recommend these steps to resolve the issue:

  1. Email them to kindly remind them that their payment is late. You can even say, “I’d be happy to waive the late fee this one time if you can get the check in the mail by tomorrow.” If it is not the first time, they just remind them to add the late fee when they put the check in the mail tomorrow. As an aside, I’ll just tell you that I forgot to pay my kids’ swim lessons instruction last week…forgetting just happens to everyone!
  2. If they have not paid by the next lesson, remind them again in person. Run out to the car and say, “Hey, I know you are busy, but you missed this month’s payment. Can you take care of that now?”
  3. If they still don’t pay, send them another email and a make a phone call. The idea is that you contact them through more than one method of communication: phone, in person, email, texting, etc.
  4. If it is more than 2-3 weeks that they are late, then please do yourself a favor and write them a kind email and/or leave them a message that says, “Unfortunately, since payments are to be made in advance, I will not be able to give you lessons anymore until payments are up to date. I’m sure you’ve been busy and may have just forgotten, but I cannot teach anymore without payment. I’m sure you understand.”

Then, the most money you will ever lose will just a few lesson’s worth! Don’t let something as simple as making sure your piano lesson Agreement to Terms are helping you run a more effective, less stressful studio.

If you struggle with business issues like these or need some help figuring out how to make a living teaching piano or music, please consider the upcoming webinar in which I offer 3 hours of “Stress-free Business Practices” that will save you time, energy, and help you make a good income. Here’s a video to learn more:

Register here

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