There are 3 things that I see teachers doing when they introduce a new lesson format or group lessons that make me want to shout out a warning! Listen in to find out how to avoid these common pitfalls.
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You’re listening to episode forty seven of the five easy teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and today we’re discussing some of the pitfalls of introducing group lessons in your studio.
Hey beautiful teachers, welcome back. We’ve been talking recently about preschool teaching and preschool teaching in groups more specifically and what I’d like to chat to you about today is some of the common pitfalls that I see when teachers bring group lessons into their studio no matter what type of group lessons it is. So you may be considering based on the release of many musicians and the discussions I’ve been having here on the podcast recently adding a preschool group program into your studio or perhaps you’re still contemplating adding in buddy lessons or partner lessons which I’ve talked about previously on the podcast. But no matter which type of new format of lessons or group program that you want to bring into your studio there are a few things that I see coming up again and again that sort of big mistakes that teachers make in my opinion when they bring group lessons into their studio. The first of those mistakes is a mistake that I see a lot of the time when teachers are making any change at all. And I’m actually going to be talking a lot next week about how to make any change in your studio business. So I’ve talked about this on the Colourful Keys Blog.
You may have read a previous post about this and it’s a very popular one because it really helps teachers out when they’re in a sticky spot trying to change things over to a new format or raise their fees or make any other change. So I’ve decided to do a podcast version of that next week where I will talk about this issue more. But I wanted to mention it today as well. And the issue is essentially teachers apologizing for the change they’re making or the type of lessons that they’re running. And even with that saying the words I’m sorry teachers can get into this spiral of over explaining things to the point where it sounds like they’re apologetic and if you’re bringing a group music program into your studio then I hope it’s because you believe in it. I’m sure it is. I’m sure you do believe it’s going to be fantastic for you and for the parents and for the students. And if you don’t believe that maybe in the jury you think the exact program that you’re doing or look into different options or just having a little chat with yourself and write down some of the bullet points about why it is going to be fantastic if you’re not so sure what the reasons are.
But if you do believe in it there’s no reason to come out of it with this tone of over explaining or apologizing for what you’re doing. You need to keep in mind that although we may have these preconceived ideas about what group lessons are and could be and perhaps the lesser value of them at parents don’t necessarily have those ideas they may not have any idea at all. Yes if they do have concerns you can address them but wait for people to have concerns before you do. Sometimes when it comes to group lessons I think we have this idea of keyboard lives with everyone with headphones on and it being basically very very short lessons with a teacher going around the room and that that was the old school way of doing group lessons. And we have come around to the idea of group lessons or discovering then it can look differently right. And I’d say this is in particular in terms of older group lessons rather than preschool. But we still have this perception that maybe group lessons are less valuable and we think that all parents think that.
But some parents have no preconceived ideas. Some know that private lessons are the standard some don’t even know that if you just convey it as this is the way we do it this is fantastic today. Here’s the curriculum. Many parents won’t even bat an eyelid.
So you don’t need to justify it without being asked to justify it. So I just look over your communications any written stuff you have on your Web site any brochures or anything like that. And what you’re saying. Parent in emails and over the phone and in person look over it with a fine tooth comb and just say What perspective does this come from. What way am I saying this. Am I saying this as if there’s a problem that I need to address or am I just explaining. Am I just laying it out clearly. And if you’re just doing that that’s fine. But just look over EVERYTHING YOU’RE SENDING OUT OR saying with that little bit of a tweak in mind that maybe I need to rethink this maybe I’m over justifying or over explaining or apologizing for something that I obviously don’t need to apologize for. It’s very easy to fall into this trap. So it would be something I’d bear in mind going forward especially as you initially bring in this program or have new parents who are approaching you about this type of lessons so the first mistake. I’ve got two more to share with you. The second mistake that I commonly say see is that the fees that people are charging are just too low. Plain and simple they’re just too low and again I think this can sometimes come from the same mindset of our group lessons are less valuable and mine are going to be fantastic.
But I still need to charge this lower rate so that parents will give it a go. No you don’t. I’m not saying you have to charge same as private lessons but I would say as a general guideline that you should at least be making one point five to two times your income for group lesson time. So at least making that much meaning if you make sixty dollars for your hour private one on one lesson you should at least be making ninety dollars for that time or a hundred and twenty depends on how much planning you’re going to have to put into it. Right. So if you’re using a premade curriculum like many musicians or another one and you can use that as it is there still will be prep time because you’re gonna have to print stuff and prepare stuff for it and get used to a new curriculum. But so it still will be more planning time than your normal lessons especially if you’ve been teaching a long time. This isn’t a new it’s going to take you some prep time and group lessons in my opinion will always take that little bit extra planning and that little bit more energy from you importantly. So anywhere from one point five to two times your income I think should be your minimum that you want to make. And then what you charge students should be dependent then upon that figure. And how many students is the minimum for running the class.
So if you won’t run it with less than four students then you divide that by four and you can charge that on a per lesson basis and figure that out how much that will be for your monthly fees or your semester fees or whatever way you charge parents if you will run it with two students then you need to consider it from that point of view that you just divided in into if you’ve decided on twice your income then you’re charging the same rate as your private lessons for most group curriculums. It’ll only work well if you have at least three or four students in your class but set a minimum number for yourself and then work it out based on that. And then if you enroll more students up to your maximum you’ll probably have a range of students like mine are four to six maybe years or six to eight or whatever as long as you have more students than your minimum then the students up to your maximum make you more and more profitable but you have that baseline set that you know you’re going to make enough money to make it worth your while because if you’re charging based on the maximum number of students in the class I feel like you’re forever going to be scrambling to fill it to the brim. And that’s going to be stressful and you’re going to be a little bit resentful or just enjoy those classes a little bit less when you’ve less students in them because you know it’s not how you calculated your fees.
Right. So is that it based on the minimum number of students and make sure it is at least one and a half or maybe two times or maybe more of your regular teaching income. OK. So the third mistake. Are you ready. The third mistake is about scheduling and I think this comes from the fact that we’re used to doing scheduling the way we usually do it right. And that’s to have students let us know what hours they’re available. And then we go back and forth with them and find a suitable time for the students. OK. That is not going to work with a group of students. So instead of thinking about it as being like the way you normally schedule lessons think about it as being like the way a dance studio or a sports group schedules their meeting times and their classes they don’t ask people when’s going to work and try to fit everyone. They just announce the time and that’s what you’re going to have to do. I would suggest if you’re just getting started with a group class like this and you have a few students current students or maybe siblings of current students or people on your waiting list that are going to be interested in it. Ask them when would suit them and do your best to pick a time that does suit them.
But then just pick it and just said it and whoever can come and come and new students new perspective students. You just tell them what time the classes and if they can make it great. If not you put them on the waiting list for when another time is going to open up and you do ask them when would be good for them. So you can take that into consideration when scheduling a new class. So if you’re running preschool music classes for example and you have one on Saturday mornings and it gets full or you have a few students on your waiting list who really want a weekday afternoon then maybe you consider opening one up on Tuesday if that’s something you want to do and you offer that to the new students. But you set up a time and then students enroll for that time rather than you enrolling students or accepting students and then trying to fit them into the schedule. It won’t work that way around. If you’re talking about groups. So don’t try it is often a and I hear from teachers actually who are considering switching to groups or body lessons or anything else they tell me I want to do it. I really want to make this change but I just don’t understand how scheduling could work. And that’s because they’re thinking of the scheduling in the same way they think of it for their one on one lessons and it cannot look the same.
That is just an impossibility it will not happen for you to try and suit everyone. So pick a time offered to people. Schedule it. OK. So those are my three big mistakes. It’s a quick episode today I just wanted to get this out to you so that you can start mulling this over as you prepare to make changes like this in your studio. The three mistakes were apologizing and over explaining your changes or your new lesson format your fees being too low and not accounting for the extra planning time and minimum numbers of students and your scheduling being overly involved and being after the fact rather than being before people enroll. So those are the three big mistakes I see. I’m going to be continuing to help you switch over to any changes you want to make in your studio. So changing your fees changing your lesson format moving to no makeups integrating group workshops whatever you want to do for next year. A lot of us are preparing during these summer months to get ready for changes we want to make in late August or early September when we come back to lessons. So next week I’m going to talk you through how to make any change like this in your studio. You’re not going to want to miss it. Tune in next week to find out how to make those changes.
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