Do you have a PREMIUM option?
I recently read something interesting about marketing.
Approximately 10% of your customers will gladly pay 30%-50% more for additional offerings and you are leaving money on the table by not having anything available to them.
Think of it like desserts in a restaurant. Most people don't buy desserts when they go out to eat, whether it's fast food or somewhere really fancy. But they do have the options available for a premium cost.
They would lose money by not having these options available even though most people don't take advantage of them.
And 1% of your students would happily pay DOUBLE or more your current rate if you had offerings for them.
Some people simply want THE BEST, regardless of the price and will always pick the highest option.
You will also sell more of your lesser options if a PREMIUM option is available to make them look more reasonable.
That's why you need a PREMIUM option.
Maybe it's access to additional classes or multiple lessons each week.
Maybe it's access to a super secret club in your studio. The sky is the limit.
What would you want to offer for your students if you KNEW price wasn't the issue?
Understand that MOST of your students won't select your PREMIUM option.
They aren't supposed to. This is about having something available for the 1% that would.
I'm a big Disney fan and they recently released a $12k tour. Obviously not many people will take them up on that offer but some will. And it's another way for them to offer exceptional service and opportunities for people that want it.
This is an excellent example of a SUPER PREMIUM option.
Having a "Good, Better, Best" option is a great way to begin working towards a Premium option in your studio.
For our studio, we offer:
Good - 4 Week Intro Groups
Better - Beginner Group Classes
Best - Private Lessons
Students pay more as they work through the options and also get more commitment and get to dig in deeper.
We are able to offer different options for students at different price and commitment points based on where they are in the journey and what kind of access they want.
Do you have a "Good, Better, Best" option?
While living in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina is an EXCELLENT place for kids to grow up, "there isn't much for kids to do, especially when I started my business," Courtney said.
"My husband is the band director at the local high school and he was talking to me one day about the lack of lesson opportunities for kids and how it was very apparent at places like All District band which students lived in the urban area of Asheville(about an hour away) and which ones lived in the rural parts of our state. This lit a fire in me and I decided to set out on starting a small music school where kids could come and take lessons on just about any instrument. Nothing like this had been done in my area, so I didn't even know if it would work or not."
Courtney took the plunge and opened her school in June 2012 starting with four students: two piano students and two voice students.
"It was just me and I was renting dance rooms at a local dance studio. Of the four that started, only two continued for the year(I had no idea what I was doing!)."
When the school year started, Courtney was renting space at the dance studio, renting space from a church across the street, using the high school band room, AND doing home visits! By the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Courtney had about 14 students.
Courtney said she finally found a budget friendly commercial space in 2018 that allowed her to continue to grow.
"The center grew rather quickly from 2013-2016. We went from my 14 students in May of 2013 to 80 in May of 2016 with five teachers! It was then that I decided things were going well enough for me to quit my part time music teaching job at a charter school and just do the studio full time."
Courtney said things were going really well, but of course, life happened.
"I got pregnant. And then, every single one of my teachers had a major life change. Two had to quit due to the fact they were moving away and two had to majorly step back. This cost us about 25 students and a youth orchestra we were starting but couldn't continue because the director didn't have time for it. I couldn't find anyone else to run it. I was scared to death.
I now had to support not just me and my husband but also a child and my income had pretty much just been cut in half.
However, we were able to turn it around with some elbow grease and love. I often say it happened at just the right time cause....I honestly couldn't have done any more growth and paid attention to a baby."
Where she is NOW...
Wonderworks has also also recently gone from rural to international, as they were accepted as an organization on Outschool!
"My goals now are to really beef up the art program and get a streamlined way of registering students. Before, we had a bunch of options for each age level and our group classes never grew. Now, we are only doing groups for 10 and under. So far, it seems to be going really well and people seem very interested. I also want to work on make myself not as needed as a teacher at the studio so I can be home by 5:00 everyday."
We asked Courtney if she could go back in time, what ONE piece of advice or encouragement she'd give herself...
"Advice: Don't let people control you. You are in control of your business. If it doesn't work for you, let them know. Be firm in your policies, no matter how convincing someone might be.
Encouragement: You are always going to have low points and high points. Ride the excitement of the high points. It's ok to feel excited about that. But, when you hit a low, know that, as long as you keep working, it isn't the end. I honestly thought my business was going to end when COVID hit, but there is always a way!"
The biggest thing Courtney wants YOU the reader to know:
"It's easy to see people who have outstanding growth when they first open and wonder "what am I doing wrong?" But, know that isn't the norm. It does take work to get the word out but once its out, you won't be able to contain it!
Be the teacher you want to be. If something isn't working for you, don't be afraid to cut it or change it. You went in to business because you wanted to do something cool. Keep doing your own cool!"
Thank you SO MUCH, Courtney, for sharing your story with us and leaving us all with some encouragement to keep on moving forward with our studios and our passions!
You have a TON of stuff to do and create for your studio...
But you don't need to spend all day, every day working to the bone to make money.
I hear way too many studio owners talking about how they teach/ work 70+ hours a week as though that's just how life is supposed to be.
Hear me out:
YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR STUDIO,
and there's a better way!
Some quick tips on how to SIMPLIFY things so you don't overwork yourself:
We are BIG advocates for simplicity around here and are constantly challenging our Studio Challenge Members to stay simple.
One of the ways we help teachers and studio owners is by providing templates for marketing and emails. (Because you already have to create SO many things in this business, right!?)
And because we like you, we have designed a marketing template you can edit and use to advertise YOUR studio's availability NOW on Facebook and Instagram!
To Edit and Use the Above Template:
Mark Your Calendar...
Do not undervalue yourself or your studio!
You need to take care of you, your studio, and your teachers and staff.
You should be paid and paid well for your services.
You need to protect your time and do what you need to do in order to focus on the things that matter most.
-shane and shauna
Learn the path that has set many teachers, just like you, on the road to more money, less work, and rediscovering their passion.
There is no simpler automation than scheduling your Facebook posts. If you can post on your Facebook page, then you can Schedule posts.
At the top of your page, type in a post like normal. Next to where it says "Post" there will be another button that says "Schedule" and you can choose a day and time.
As for choosing the day and time, play around with it and see what works best for you in terms of engagement. In general, try to think of your main market (typically moms in their mid 20s to early 40s) and when they will typically be on Facebook: early morning coffee, after dropping the kids off at school, on their lunchbreak, waiting in the carpool line, after tucking the kids into bed.
Now...Let's talk about the practical side of it.
There are two main ways that you can set this up: a Marathon Session or a Sprint Session.
Here are a few of the most popular topics for you to choose from for each day:
- Motivation Mondays
- Mountain Mondays (overcoming challenges/obstacles)
- Teacher Tip Tuesdays
- Good News Tues (happy and uplifting)
- Wisdom Wednesdays
- Throwback Thursdays
- Transformation Thursdays
- Feature Fridays
- Fun Fact Fridays
- Sunday Funday (post something fun about your studio)
- Student of the Week
- Studio Tour
- Available Spots
- Q&A (Ask and answer questions)
You don't have to actually list or hashtag these days. It can just be for you, so that you have a theme to work around.
In addition to these, you may want to have some easy days with generic content. There are always loads of videos and articles floating around for you to share with inspiring music stories or thoughts on why music and music education are important.
Three Important Things to Remember:
1. Be Consistent and Be Like Goldilocks
Post on a regular basis and be sure not to post too much or too little. Make it juuuust right.
2. Vary your content.
Posting regularly is good but not if it's al the same thing. There is also too much of a good thing. Posts showing your kids passing lesson books are GREAT. But not if it's the only thing on your page. Articles about music being important are fantastic. But not if it's the only thing on your page.
3. Be Personal.
It's ok to share generic content, but people are on your page to hear about your studio. Don't tell them why music or music lessons are worthwhile. Tell them why YOUR studio is amazing. Don't be vague or general on your posts, be specific.
"Yeah, ok...but I'm still totally overwhelmed. Can't you just...do it for me?"
We're going to lay out 6 weeks of content. Ready? The key here is to not overthink things and not to let Analysis Paralysis set in. You can always edit these later. JUST. DO. IT.
For a Marathon Session, schedule an hour or so and knock all of these out.
For a Sprint Session, pick ONE of these below and get it done in ten minutes or less.
- Google 3 Motivational Music Quotes and post the images
- Share a personal story
- Share a story of a musician that overcame something
- Write something personal and uplifting
Teacher Tip Tuesdays
- Tip about Practice
- Tip about Not Giving Up
- Tip about the instrument
- Tip about general health or sleep
- Tip about how music helps with other areas of life
- Tip about something musical
- Post 3 pictures or videos from at least 2 years ago of students or studio
- Post a throwback picture of yourself or teachers
- Post a picture or video of a historical musical event or artist
- Post something specific to your studio
- What instrument should I start with?
- How long should I practice?
- What is a good age to start taking lessons?
- How much are lessons?
- Do you have concerts or performances?
- Am I too old to learn an instrument?
Available Days and Times Sundays
- Each week pick between 1 and 3 available times and post them. Be specific
- We have openings for a guitar student at 4:30 on Tuesdays.
- Our Beginner Piano Group has room for TWO more students.
So, that's it. Don't get overwhelmed, overthink it, or put it off. Just get it done. You'll thank me later.
If you haven't already, be sure to join The Studio Challenge Mailing List. You get Weekly Challenges in your inbox, other useful tips and info, and you'll be among the first to know when something new and exciting is happening.
Already joined the Mailing List? Sounds like you're ready for the next step. Join The Studio Challenge Patreon for useful guides and videos, mastermind sessions, and consulting. There are some exciting new options coming to the Patreon in 2019 so stay tuned!
Also...be sure to check out The Studio Challenge Courses. We have a few courses for you to check out already, with more underway!
I absolutely believe in working hard and I have had nothing handed to me. But I think there is a point in all of our stories that changed everything for us. A moment that, if it hadn't happened, would have drastically altered the course of our lives. I am not being hyperbolic. These are the moments that define us.
I graduated with a degree in Music Education and was set to take a job at the school where I student taught. The school interviewed me, essentially hired me, and then waited until 2 weeks before school started to tell me that they had found someone else.
I was crushed and out of options. I taught guitar and piano lessons through college but at that point I had maybe 15 or 20 students and it wasn't anything that I was taking too seriously.
Cue my Lucky Break. My Turning Point.
Just as the school year was about to start I got a call out of the blue from a local pastor at a big church in town that had an arts academy. It turns out that one of my friends from college had a job there teaching guitar and, at the last minute, decided to move to Boston for school and gave them my name as someone that might be interested in taking over for him.
He told me there were about 30 guitar students with my name on them if I wanted to come in for an interview. I came in and the rest is history.
When I arrived to start teaching a week later it turned out that those '30 students' were actually only about 8 students. And I left my previous teaching position of around 20 students to take this job. Did I mention that I had recently gotten married?
This wasn't some Golden Opportunity that was laid before me.
I worked insanely hard to grow my studio to be big enough to even provide part of the meager monthly income that my wife and I needed in our early 20s.
But I was able to take what was there and continue to build on it for the last decade.
That opportunity (and the lack of any school openings for me to be a k-12 music teacher) is what led me to where I am today. A few months later I also accepted a job leading worship at the church and spent the next 6 years there leading worship for their preteen ministry and teaching guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, and drum lessons.
I took those 8 students and grew them to almost 80 over the next few years until I outgrew that church and saw that it was time to open my own studio.
5 years later and our studio has twice as many students and we have laid the groundwork for some substantial growth in 2019.
Since I had to learn to run my own studio I found myself getting heavily involved in business and marketing. I dove in and learned all that I could, making a ton of mistakes along the way.
Eventually, I wanted to have some other music teacher friends to talk to that were taking the business part of their studio seriously too.
So, I started a little Facebook Group: The Studio Challenge.
We started with about a dozen members and as of this writing that small group has grown to almost 2500 members in a little over two years.
That is definitely something that I didn't really intend or expect.
Through the group, I found myself answering a lot of questions and found out that, while I don't have all the answers that I am further along in the journey than a lot of teachers.
That I could provide the help and support that I wish I had when I was starting my studio. Thus, the Patreon, Consulting, and Courses were born.
And, trust me, we're just getting started.
2019 is going to see The Studio Challenge rise to whole new levels.
My wife and I were recently talking about where we would be if I had never gotten that call about the music lesson job.
I don't think The Studio Challenge would be here.
I don't think that I would be teaching music lessons, or I would be one of the many that teach lessons casually with no real sense of purpose or goals.
I'm honestly not sure where we would be. My wife and I both work hard, but we see so many families in our studio that are also incredibly hard workers but struggle to make ends meet.
We worked hard to get where we are but, if it wasn't for that one lucky break...that phone call about a teaching job because a friend decided to move out of town unexpectedly...my life, and perhaps yours if The Studio Challenge has helped you, would look a lot different right now.
It's not about the breaks that you get, whether lucky or unlucky. It's about what you do when that opportunity is laid before you.
So, what was your Lucky Break?
Let's hear about it. Share about it in the Facebook Group with the hashtag #MyLuckyBreak
Ready to get serious about your studio?
Click below and let's get started!
I wanted to give you an idea of what signing up for kid's classes looks like from a parent point of view since we so often get stuck seeing it from our teacher/business point of view.
I reached out to 3 different local martial arts places. I googled and took the top 3 (Lions, Tigers, Bears....fake names) with the most reviews that looked legit. There are apparently more than a dozen nearby.
I sent all 3 of them a Facebook message at around 8pm and all had replied by around 11pm. I asked them for more info about their program, what the monthly cost was, when classes for his age were, and what made them different than other similar offerings. None of them had any of this information on their website or Facebook page.
My main hold up right now is that classes are offered around 4pm-6pm which is also when our studio is in it's busiest mode. I've been really hoping for morning or early afternoon classes but none of them offer that, so we're looking for summer classes when our schedule lightens up.
I got the monthly charge, but wasn't told what was included. Again, I had to ask and was told that he could pick two classes per week for $75/month.
As for what sets them apart: He listed a few styles of martial arts that I have no idea about and said that they are different because of that.
After a pause in our chat, he decided to offer me a free trial class.
[They get points for answering questions and getting back to me in a timely manner. But they weren't very personable and were still pretty vague. They are a prime example of a business that is too wrapped up in what they do to see it from the customer's perspective. I have NO idea what all of the karate stuff he was talking about was (even though I took a few years of karate as a kid).
If he had just told me that my kid would jump and kick and punch and do ninja stuff while also learning discipline and control, I would have been all in. Save me all of the lingo that makes you feel good but doesn't mean anything to the consumer.]
As for what sets them apart, they "work on our taekwondo curriculum along with skills for balance, speed, and agility."
She suggested that I try their 7 week program for $150 that includes the uniform. It's no obligation and is just to give a feel for the program and see if it's a good fit. We could then continue at $95/month.
[I'm still not sure what makes them different but I like the talk about balance, speed, and agility skills. That's what I'm looking for. The initial cost is high. I'm the typical parent that just wants to 'try it'. A $150 upfront commitment for 7 weeks is a lot. I'm not sure that we can do the time commitment and I'm hesitant to invest that much money before I know if he's even ready for this type of thing.
She did a better job of answering my questions and was more personal but her offer wasn't very good for what I was looking for.]
They answered the questions the most clearly. $79/month for two lessons a week and we can choose the class days that work for us each week. We start with their $38 intro course which is 3 trial lessons and a uniform.
She then offered the date of the next available course and tried to get me to sign up. Since they were the most personable, I asked more about what they would actually be doing and was told that they teach basic martial arts skills, life lessons, and safety skills.
[This place answered the questions the best and still in a timely manner. I like their offering the best as a $38 intro course is a great place to start at a great price. Plus, he gets the free uniform and he's all about dressing up right now.]
Though Lions is the cheapest, most convenient location, and offered a free trial class, I just didn't get a good vibe from them. I'm still not sure what they do and it doesn't sound as good as the other two. There's a good chance that we still go and do the free trial class though just to check it out and so that I can see what my son feels about it.
Tigers sounded the most like what I'm looking for (With balance/speed/agility skills) but the class times were very limited and the offer was too expensive and too lengthy for a 4 year old. The monthly part was the most expensive of the three. They also offered a free trial class and I'll probably take them up on it.
Bears won me over with their responses and their offer: $38 for 3 weeks and a free uniform is a great deal and will give me just enough time to see if we want to continue. I plan to get started with them later this month and maybe check out the free trials from the other classes over the next few weeks.
1. I'm just looking for something fun and cool for my kid to try. He's 4. We aren't serious about this. He just wants to pretend to be a ninja and I think learning self-control could be beneficial for him.
I think parents looking for music lessons for kids (especially young kids) feel the same way. They are just looking for something fun and interesting for them to try.
2. The Trial Offer was a big factor for me. Lions and Tigers offered a free trial class and I'll take them up on it. Even though I probably won't pick them, I like the idea of being able to see what they offer. They have big classes, so this really doesn't cost them anything. The Lions' $38 offer is a great offer.
We need to have GREAT trial offers for kids when they want to sign up for music lessons. A free lesson did not sway me in the least but a great offer made me want to sign up. The value compared to the price is outstanding and I'm in.
3. I've heard great things about Bears and they even stopped by our studio last year to exchange business cards. They also had the most reviews. I don't know if they are the best place for martial arts, but they run the best business.
Overall, I think we have a lot to learn from studying other businesses and our own shopping habits. What have you learned from local businesses?
That's exactly what the Patreon is.
We have just rounded the 3 month mark with The Studio Challenge Patreon and it has exceeded all of my expectations. Not only that, but it's a ton of fun!
I love getting to meet with studio owners for consults and our mastermind sessions each month and hearing about their insane growth. One has more than doubled her studio since January. Others now have full studios and are working on new goals and new roles. With others, we're in the process of reworking various parts of their studio to ensure current and future success.
Monthly Guide & Checklist
February: How to Teach Profitable and Successful Group Classes
March: Simple and Surprising Retention Strategies
February: Roles and Transitions
March: Good, Better, Best Advertising and Having a Premium Option
Monthly Website and Social Media Analysis
February: Guitar Studio in England
March: Basic Tips for Setting up a Facebook Page
February: Group Chat and Disrupting Your Industry
March: Consistent Marketing
Patreon Bonus Materials
There are currently 5 bonus posts in the Patreon, including some free previews of my courses for Ukulele and Building a Better Website.
There are THREE different levels for you to choose from!
"I'm Pretty Serious about my Business"
I regularly post polls so that you can vote on what you would like the next guide and videos content to be about.
You also get access to all content from January - March and any bonus materials posted.
"I'm Ready to Take This to the Next Level"
A Monthly Analysis of your Website or Social Media.
Access to participate and watch replays of our Monthly Mastermind Sessions.
You also get access to all content from January - March and any bonus materials posted.
***ONLY FOUR SPOTS REMAINING.***
"I'm a Boss and I'm Ready to Conquer the World"
A Monthly 60 Minute One-on-One Video Consult to grow your studio.
I am currently consulting with 7 studio owners each month with a wide variety of studios and geographic locations. I work with studio owners of all ages in all 4 US time zones, England, and Australia that range from just getting started with their studios to much bigger studios. Some are working on growth. Some on goal setting and achieving goals. Some just need help with organization and some accountability.
Honestly, I think the biggest help is just getting an outside opinion on your studio and getting some one-on-one support on a regular basis. Running a studio can be frustrating and lonely and it's really nice to get a fresh pair of eyes and someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of.
I LOVE this stuff. I LOVE working with studio owners and helping them to get organized, set goals, and grow their studios. I love helping them figure out new roles and transitions as they move into new stages with their studio.
You also get access to all content from January - March and any bonus materials posted.
***ONLY ONE SPOT REMAINING.***
I want to help studios grow in a way that won't totally break the bank.
If you're ready to make the jump and go to the next level,
we would love to have you join us.
I look forward to seeing you on Patreon!
For many of us, we never really get the chance to step back and look at our business. It can be hard to get a bird's eye view when we're working in our business every day. That's why this month we're going to make a change.
For our February Challenge, you're going to take some time to focus on your studio in a way that you have probably never done before. The idea is for you to get away. Leave your studio. Leave your students. Leave your computer. Leave your phone. Just get away and think about your studio and your goals.
I can see this happening a few different ways, but feel free to add your own interpretation:
Take 3 hours by yourself to focus on your business. Take a notebook with you and head to a park, the library, a coffeeshop, or anywhere that you can hang out for a few hours. It doesn't have to be quiet. Sometimes it's nice to be alone in a crowded room. Maybe the food court in the mall. But here's the catch: you have to get out of your normal routine.
Don't do this in your living room. Or your office. Or your studio. Actually GO somewhere. Put yourself in an unfamiliar place so that you can focus without distraction. It is imperative that you don't have your phone or computer. It's just too easy to get distracted and check Facebook or Pinterest. Or get a good idea that you want to look up on Google. Or a new thing that you can add to your website. This retreat isn't about action or research. It's about thinking. And planning. And dreaming. Allow yourself to do that.
2. Overnight Retreat
Book a hotel room. Go camping. Stay at your friend's lake house for the night. You are giving yourself the gift of time. All of the same rules apply. Don't take technology. Just a simple notebook for you to jot down and organize your thoughts.
The real benefit here is that you have the ability to really let yourself go and get into it without worrying about what you're going to cook for dinner, picking up the kids, or if you double-parked somewhere. You will mostly likely have an entire evening, night, and morning to yourself. How awesome does that sound?
Give yourself space to think through your journey up to this point. How did you get where you are? Where do you really want to be next year? Or 5 years from now? Or 40 years from now? Are you on track to get there?
Only for the bold. You are the proud winner of a 3 day, 2 night expedition into your mind. You really get the chance to break everything down here. Think about EVERY SINGLE THING that you do as a studio owner and why you do it. Most of us get into habits and just continue doing things because it's the way we've always done them. Do you sit on the right side of the piano during your lesson? Why? Is it just because your piano teacher did that? What if you sat on the left side? Would it change anything? Is it worth a trial run to see if it has an impact?
That kind of thinking. Literally go through everything that you can think of and question it. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is too small or too large. Does your business name make sense? How about your marketing strategies? Is teaching really something that you want to do for the rest of your life? Should you go back to school or take a business class? What do you love about your job? What should you pass off to someone else so that you can focus more on what you love? GO DEEP.
1. This is a BUSINESS trip. It's going to be easy for your mind to wander and that's ok. Letting your mind chase those thoughts that have been bouncing around for weeks is healthy. But reign them in and get back to the business at hand. Don't let yourself start planning your next vacation, or wondering about your kid's homework, or meal planning for the next week. Acknowledge the thought. Maybe even keep a separate sheet of paper that you can write all of those things on so that you feel like you've been heard. Then move on and get back to thinking about your business.
2. It's ok to be selfish and focus on yourself for a time. Obviously you don't want to be self-centered ALL of the time but it is extremely healthy to take some time to really get introspective and figure out what you want and what you need. This is going to make you a better person, better teacher, and better business owner. You owe it to yourself to do this.
3. Make it fun. It doesn't have to be all serious all the time. Let your imagination go wild. Dream and plan things that you have no possible way to accomplish. If you had millions of dollars and no limits, how would you set up your studio?
The real purpose here is for you to be able to think through all of the things that you never really get the chance to think through. Who knows what you'll find?