Real Talk: I don't want to help Music Teachers solve problems as they come up...
If you're not getting students, it's because you're not being consistent with marketing.
If you're constantly having to fix mistakes your staff and teachers are making, it's because you didn't properly hire or train them to do what you NEED them to do.
If your teachers are leaving and poaching your students, it's because you didn't build a community in your studio and take the proper measures and policies of preventing teachers from taking over.
If you're constantly chasing payments, it's because you didn't set up autopay or stick to a stern payment agreement between you and your students.
the list goes on...
I know I sound harsh, but fixing this stuff is NOT why I decided to go into the business of helping Music Teachers...
I want to help Music Teachers and Schools like yours PREVENT problems from arising in the first place.
Listen, I know FIRST hand how difficult and complicated this is.
I KNOW how much easier it is to eat junk food than to go on a specialized Keto or Whole 30 diet.
I KNOW how much easier it is to hire people you completely trust to do a job... then accidentally give them MORE tasks than they can handle and end up turning an ally into an enemy... AND have to clean up the mess they made.
I KNOW how scary it is to say "no" to a parent and end up giving away tons of make up lessons and constantly have to ask them where their tuition payments are.
When money is TIGHT, I KNOW how much more convincing it is to try and DIY problems than pay for help.
But Music Teachers: NOT preparing for things will cost you MORE money, time, and headaches than "putting fires out" as they arise.
Did you ever watch that TV show Lost?
Remember that part where Charlie know he was going to die to help save his friends? As he was reflecting on life on his last days, he wrote down a "Best Hits" list of his life.
I'm not dying or about to quit my job or anything, but lately I've been reflecting on The Studio Challenge and the people I've been able to really help...
I'm so honored to have seen and walked with TSC Member Courtney from being on the verge on bankruptcy in 2020 to having this amazing, BOOMING music and arts studio in the small town on Silva, NC.
Or, how about member Whitney who lost her full-time gig on cruises to COVID, then pivoted to teach piano lessons full time... and went from 0 to 95 students in 7 MONTHS?!?!
Or, Chelsea, who shared with me the story of how she was frantically dealing with parents and problems in her studio WHILE SHE WAS IN LABOR with her first child? Then I got to work with her while she was pregnant with baby #2 and this happened...
And I'm happy to report she had baby #2 and did NOT work while in labor! :)
Music Teachers, please, PLEASE don't wait until it's too late to fix things in your studio.
Actually, here are 4 things I want you to go ahead and do to help PREVENT the most common problems I see in music schools...
1. Be FIRM with your policies.
Parents and students WANT to know and be clear on the rules and regulations of taking lessons with you! If they're frustrated, it's because they're confused.
Make your payment policy CLEAR. Make sure they KNOW your make up policy! Make sure they sign a contract agreeing to your policies.
2. Make your studio about YOUR STUDIO, not people.
What's the vibe of your studio? What do you think students should be learning in your school? What jobs do you need teachers and staff to do?
One of the things we have a lot of our overly stressed members do is write out EVERYTHING they do and that has to be done in the studio.
How can someone you hire do the job if the job isn't clear? KNOW what tasks you need teachers and staff to do so they KNOW what is expected of them. (And if they're killing it, don't keep adding on tasks. This always causes them to burn out and leaves you frustrated!)
Also, make your studio MORE than just a place students come to take lessons and go home. Have kickass recitals. Create a "Karate Belt" type of level system students can graduate through. KNOW what your teachers are teaching and make sure it aligns with what you expect.
3. Be CONSISTENT.
Have more students than you need? Build a wait list! Because students are GOING to leave.
Not getting students? How much advertising did you do?
The average person has to hear about you AT LEAST 7 TIMES before they even consider doing business with you! And they won't see EVERY ad or email you send.
You HAVE to put together an advertising plan and doing it on a REGULAR basis in order to bring in students.
4. Have an emergency plan and let others know about it.
Things happen! Some things you can know about and prepare for ahead of time, but some don't.
What if you end up in a car accident or end up in the emergency room on a teaching day? What if one of your teachers has to leave in the middle of the school year?
Have plan B's for EVERYTHING and let others you trust in on the plan.
What do you need help with in your studio?
Feel like you're missing something or could do better?
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Hey Music Teachers...
It's that time of year!
Don't freak out too much if you're losing students right now but having a hard time gaining...
Parents and kids are getting adjusted to their back-to-school schedules right now.
They want to get situated BEFORE they reach out to you for lessons.
In the meantime, let's get rolling on getting those who ARE ready in your studio, as well as keep reminding everyone else. :)
These are some of my tried and true methods for consistently bringing in students.
We didn't pay for advertising our studio for the first 4 years we were open (outside of the road signs you’ll read about below) because our organic advertising was so dialed in.
I want to give you a fairly comprehensive list of different ways that you can market your studio and bring in more students for music lessons.
All of these are going to be either FREE or fairly inexpensive.
There are 5 different ideas here ranging from Social Media to Local Marketing and everything in between.
1. Schedule FB and Instagram posts promoting music lessons at your studio.
Let’s start simple.
You hopefully already have a Facebook and Instagram page and already post on it.
We are going to schedule those posts so that you can focus on other things.
If you can post on your Facebook page, you can schedule posts. There is a little button next to the post button that looks like a clock. Push that and then select the schedule.
If you need help figuring out what to post, grab the Music School Facebook Calendar.
It will tell you exactly what to post on your Facebook Page 365 days a year.
Scheduled Facebook Posts Quick Tips:
2. Advertise music lessons in your local FB Community Groups.
While it will depend on your area, most places have Facebook Community Groups that you can post in for free.
You want to search for these groups on Facebook.
Type in your city and then select ‘groups’ from the tabs at the top. But don’t stop there.
Type in surrounding cities. Type in your counties or other areas.
Personally, we have dozens of Facebook groups in our area.
I think there are 60+ that we can post in regularly and they are a great source of regular inquiries!
Almost all of ours are business friendly, but some only allow businesses to post once each week or once each month.
Make sure that you check out the rules and follow them.
If you don’t have Community Groups or they aren’t business friendly, you can either start one for your area or focus on Facebook ads.
If you just starting your studio, a new type of music class, or moving to a new area, this is a GREAT way to get some new contacts! Simply do an "I'm thinking of..." post.
"Hey small town! I am thinking of starting a piano school! What do you think? Would this be something you or someone you know would be interested in?"
"Hey! I'm Maddie from Maddie's Music in Smithtown. Our school is thinking of offering a music class for newborns - 12 month olds! Interested?"
(Don't forget to post pics of yourself in these!)
Facebook Community Group Quick Tips:
3. Put videos of you teaching or showcasing your music school on TikTok.
This one is often overlooked by Music Teachers, but you need to re-think this one!
TSC Member Matt is a pro at it and did a workshop for Music Teachers back in June.
You can purchase the workbook and replay of the TikTok Workshop here.
While Facebook and Instagram's older audience is growing (ages 45 - 65) Millenials and Gen Z are scrolling less and relying more on the platforms for the messenger app...
That means if your ideal students are school aged, those kids AND their parents (early 20's - 30's) are on TikTok.
TikTok Quick Tips:
4. Email your CURRENT Music Students.
Nothing will EVER beat word of mouth in our business. If you have a studio full of happy and engaged students (and I’m sure that you do, because YOU ARE AWESOME) then you have a network of people ready to help you.
Your students have:
So, it’s time to use this!
On the simplest level you can just send an email letting them know that you are looking to grow your studio and wanted to see if they knew of anyone interested in lessons. Make it easy by extending an offer or flyer for them to give to friends.
Emails to Current Students Quick Tips:
5. Email your FORMER Music Students and ALL of those who have EVER inquired about Music Lessons!
You want me to reach out to the students that quit?
AND those who never responded to my emails or told me they weren't going to sign up?
Absolutely I do.
Students often quit because they plateau and get bored or because something interests them more, like soccer.
Some parents who ghost you after inquiring about lessons are STILL interested too! They just got busy...
But kids change their mind ALL THE TIME, and parents need to be REMINDED that you offer lessons and have availability.
For former students you can send a nice email checking in to see how they're doing, but the "9 Word Email" is GOLD to send all former and potential students...
Is Student still interested in music lessons?"
Emails to Former and Potential Students Quick Tips:
Want more info or help?
1. Start gathering more potential students/parents on your mailing list with this lead magnet.
2. Grab the TikTok Course and FB Music School Calendar!
Social Media changes so quickly! It can be hard to keep up with what to post, and how to advertise you and your studio.
Click here to learn how to grow your audience and get new students on TikTok.
Click here to grab the FB Music School Calendar to attract more followers on your FB and Instagram pages, and draw them into lessons.
3. Get Personalized coaching for YOUR Music School!
We're now accepting new one-on-one coaching clients and TSC Members!
Get help growing and simplifying your music school NOW.
Apply now for a free consultation.
Like most music teachers, I'm cheap and spent many years trying to save money by doing everything on my own.
I manually managed my own schedule in an excel doc.
I only accepted cash or checks from students. (These were the days before Venmo or Cash App.)
I figured out my own teaching curriculums through years of trial and error.
I was dirt poor, had a ton of stress, but I was proud of myself for doing these things.
But I wasn't happy then.
And I was working overtime for very little money.
In 2017 the National Academy of Sciences published a study where they found people who purchased things that saved them time were SIGNIFICANTLY happier than those who didn't.
And it makes sense, right?
In the last year my wife and I have made the following lifestyle changes that have significantly improved not only our personal lives, but also gave us MORE time to focus on The Studio Challenge:
We no longer have to spend time cleaning our home. We no longer have to go shopping for clothes. We no longer have to spend time meal planning and grocery shopping.
So... what does this have to do with Music Teaching?
This is a scarcity mindset, and I TOTALLY get it.
I couldn't afford all of these luxurious time-saving services back when I was teaching full-time.
In fact, when I opened my studio in 2014 I was teaching 70 students 6 days a week and I was only taking home $20k a year! Shauna was taking home $0 but working full-time at the front desk of our studio. AND we were trying to adopt our son.
What if you can't afford NOT to?
What if your efforts to save money are actually COSTING you money? And happiness?
I've been coaching music teachers for about 5 years now. The ones who seem to be the happiest and reap the most success purchase these 5 time-saving things...
1. They pay credit card fees.
I see so many independent music teachers avoiding credit card services in an effort to save money on fees.
And I agree, those cc fees can add up!
However, by refusing those cc services you are actually losing money...
If you are teaching music lessons for money, then you are a business! Treat yourself as such.
And remember, if those 2-3% cc fees add up, then you SHOULD be able afford them because you're booking a lot of students at that point! If not, then you need to raise your tuition rates to pay for them.
It's the cost of doing business and it's worth the cost for your time, student's convenience, and happiness.
2. They pay for their website and scheduling software.
Look, if you have 3 students and you don't want to grow, then by all means keep managing your own schedule through your online calendar or an excel doc.
But if you want to grow? These freebies WILL NOT work.
You'll accidentally overbook a student. If you have multiple teachers, you'll overbook a teaching room AND students!
Your business THRIVES on the happiness of your students.
And the #1 thing they expect from you? Their lesson and their scheduled lesson time.
Most music teachers use either MyMusicStaff, Fons, or TeacherZone.
We signed up for MyMusicStaff because at the time they had the best software for managing a multi-teacher studio. But we really liked the customer service and owner of Fons. We have some teachers who are happy with TeacherZone.
Look into them and pick one. I think all of them will give you a free trial!
They're worth it guys.
As far as website goes,
When you're just starting, buy your domain name.
Website services like Weebly will give you a free website that ends in .weebly.com, but honestly? Who's going to be able to just remember that and plug it into a search engine to find you?
If you want to establish yourself and grow, just buy the domain name.
As far as the website layout goes, I'll be honest and say spending the time to Storybrand your own website can be more of a timesaver and headache than finding someone to do your website for you.
The website designers I know who produce great websites tend to be over-booked. The lesser-known ones can charge you thousands and give you a really crappy, unusable website.
It is 100% worth it to put in the time and research of designing your website, and paying a business coach to help you edit it.
3. They have a business coach!
Obviously I'm biased about this one, but even I hire business coaches to help me improve my own business coaching.
As a Music Teacher and Studio Owner, you can be TOO CLOSE to your business to see it's flaws.
This is the scariest purchase because it can be the priciest.
However, if you are a hard worker, willing to take advice and find a good business coach, you'll make SO MUCH MORE money. You'll save time too.
My #1 goal as a business coach is to help Music Teachers grow and live amazing lives.
I thrive on this as much, if not more than I used to thrive on seeing my students improve their music skills.
The business coaches I have working with have helped me immensely as well!
The first coach I hired helped me start and grow The Studio Challenge Membership.
The second business coach helped me better organize my programs and improved my social media presence.
My most recent business coach helped me systemize everything, cut out tasks that were costing me time and money, and improve my sales funnel.
I learned how to grow my music school the hard way and I can't help but wonder...
If I had hired a business coach from the beginning, how many mistakes could I have avoided?
How much better could my studio have been?
4. They hire help.
Whether you're a solo teacher or multi-teacher studio, it's worth systemizing what you do and having people in place to help you with your students and school when needed.
If you have a commercial studio, it's absolutely worth hiring an administrator to answer the phone, schedule students, and be available for walk-ins and to answer questions!
The better systemized you are along with good admin and teachers will allow you to focus on the more important things.
Oh! Don't forget cleaning and maintenance services too!
Unless you really like cleaning toilets at your school... it's totally worth hiring someone to take care of these things for you so you can focus on doing what matters most in your studio!
5. They pay themselves.
The basic idea? You should get paid for your work!
Don't undercharge for lessons, or put all of your income back into your studio because it will result in you battling feelings of resentment.
Sure you can help students out from time to time.
Charge your worth on lessons, and save money to give scholarships to well-deserving students!
You should absolutely put money back into your studio to improve it.
But you should absolutely pay yourself because YOU deserve it.
You're not a slave to yourself.
In the membership group we talk a lot about profit first.
I absolutely recommend you read the book, but the idea is to reward yourself for your hard work.
A lot of our members practice "Profit First Lite" where they put 1 - 5% of their income into a savings account. At the end of every 3 months, they take half of that savings out and deliberately spend it on fun things.
Joseph is our biggest proponent, and he's purchased epic overseas trips, and engagement ring, and other epic things from his profit account!
Shauna and I just started doing this in December and last quarter we were able to renovate our kitchen with our profit distribution.
Paying yourself for your hard work MOTIVATES you!
Again, you're not a slave. You don't have to sacrifice your time and happiness.
Pay for the thing you enjoy! Pay yourself!
YOU are worth it.
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