And How Music Teacher’s Helper Made it Possible and Even Easy…
Last year, I wrote a blog post about why I don’t teach make up lessons. I still firmly stand by some of the things I said in the post, but a lot has changed. I was a staunch supporter of the no make up lessons movement. Now, I have moved to an unrestricted rescheduling policy. My students can reschedule lessons for any reason, provided that they let me know the day before.
Are you freaking out?
I know, I know. Believe you me, I know all the reasons not to do this. But, even with my old no make up lesson policy, I was still losing money and time scheduling make ups and giving people credits.
Everyone was sick. All. The. Time. So I gave make ups. And, to make matters worse, some parents would tell me that they were to busy to do a make up lesson, so they wanted a credit instead. I couldn’t count on my income.
Maybe I could have forced the issue, but I didn’t want to. It’s not me.
I was spending a lot of my time calling and scheduling make up lessons, and then teaching make up lessons on Saturday, when I wanted to be with my kids.
It was exhausting. And, I didn’t feel like the policy was respecting my time…or my students’.
There are only so many hours after school, the hours between 3pm and 8pm are precious. Every single extracurricular is stuffed into those times, not to mention, practice, family time, homework, and playing. Remember playing? It is becoming increasingly rare for kids today.
These hours are precious for me, as well! I want to be done teaching at 5:30pm or 6:00pm so I can have dinner with my babies and put them to bed.
We can draw comparisons to sports or dance, and say that students don’t get make ups or credits when they miss those things. But, to be fair, it really isn’t the same is it? There are more children involved in those things, and often they are cheaper per child than private lessons.
After reading these two blog posts by Daniel Patterson,
I was convinced that I needed to change my make up policy.
Daniel argues for a Nordstrom approach to make up lessons. Nordstrom’s customer service policy is extremely generous. Everything about Nordstrom’s communicates premium service and high quality. Their customers are willing to pay more because of the experience. Nordstrom’s has an amazing profit margin, so obviously the model is working.
I highly recommend you read the above blog posts, because they really did totally change the way I thought about make up lessons and my business.
My old way of thinking painted my students and parents as the enemy. Manipulative consumers bent on taking advantage of me and my personal time.
My new way of thinking about make up lessons puts my students and I on more level ground. I serve them by offering make up times, and it serves me because I have to do little or no scheduling.
Little or no scheduling? How does that work?
Daniel’s method uses a google calendar listing every open time in the schedule, all the students have access to this calendar and can see when the open times are. He lets students know when more times open up, for example if a student cancels for the next day. Then when parents contact him to say they want one of the open times, he goes to the calendar and marks that time as unavailable.
When I saw how Daniel’s google calendar worked, I realized that I could use Music Teacher’s Helper to make it even more hand’s off on my end.
(Seriously guys, this has made my life SO MUCH BETTER.)
In my Music Teacher’s Helper Calendar, I have all of my students’ lessons scheduled. In addition to their regular times I built in a few extra make up times at the beginning or end of my teaching day. I only add these at times that I really am willing to teach, and I have babysitting lined up for those times.
(If I don’t end up teaching during my make up times, I simply do other work I need or want to do. Like blogging, or folding laundry without toddlers unfolding as I go. It’s amazing.)
These make up times show up in my students’ individual Music Teacher’s Helper Calendars and they can register for the times that they want.
Once they’ve registered, Music Teacher’s Helper sends me an automatic email telling me they’ve registered for a make up lesson and when it is. No more spending hours on the phone each week scheduling make ups for students who have been sick.
Parents feel relieved that they can get to Parent-Teacher Conferences at school, and still make it to violin lessons that week.
I no longer give ANY credits so my income is much more predictable. And I love that I have to do very little scheduling via email or on the phone with my students.
In my next blog post, I will walk you through how exactly I set up these open make up lesson times for my students. If you are interested in trying out Music Teacher’s Helper, you can get a free 30 day trial and 20% off your first month here.
What is your make up lesson policy? Are you happy with it, why or why not? Please share in the comments!