Are you kidding? Plan NOW for next summer and fall! YES, YES, and YES. In my studio, paperwork/registration/tuition changes and any policy changes are announced in a new folder that is given to all existing families after spring break in April. The deadline for committing to the new year and a down payment are required by June 1st. While there is a 2 month buffer for them to change their minds and get their registraton and music fee back (until August 1st), the June 1st deadline helps me see who is leaving. With a full schedule I cannot invite a new student in over the summer if I don’t know what I have to offer come the 1st lessons at the end of August.
During the registration process, parents are offered space to inform me of school changes and new lesson time requests. In fact, I lay out the schedule right after the June 1st deadline. Even if adjustments need to be made throughout the summer, at least I have a heads up that a change is necessary. What if you aren’t generally full? Do it anyway. The process tells parents your schedule is important to you and by enrolling early they get priority selection of available times. If they don’t enroll right away, that’s fine. Simply put people into the slots requested anyway. This means not “saving” a spot of a student that has not committed to your studio until late August when they find out about every other activity. The notion that piano lessons get squeezed in last is a mind set we need to avoid if we are to build the kind of quality studio that keeps us vibrant and enthusiastic teachers.
Within weeks I plan to decide any poicy changes as well as tuition changes. I looked up the overall cost of living change for 2021. It was (averaged) 4.67 according to the government website I consulted. Should you be in a state where students fell off during the pandemic you might be nervous about any rate hike. Still consider something no matter how small. If you don’t you will be behind the cost of living by the entire amount of cost of the living–a whooping 4.67 percent! Even 2 percent will increase your income over the combined tuition of all your students. Additionally, new students begin calling as early as spring for the summer and spring. You need those rates in place! If not, it will look like a “bait and switch” when you take on a June student at the current rate then announce a rate increase in August! In my opinion, August is far too late to make changes.
With all our studios have been through since January 2020, it’s more important than ever to carefully consider the how and the when of making changes in your business practices. If you are running a music school and have many teachers and students, it’s even more important to plan well ahead. Your teachers depend on you to offer them a fair commensurate rate!
I am looking forward to the 2022 school year. Hopefully, Covid-19 will become more “seasonal” and we can cope more effectively with yearly booster shots. Let’s take a stab at a sense of normalcy. Look ahead, plan ahead–Dream Ahead. All the best for a successful second semester in your studios!
Dr. Carol Ann