Are you getting ready to make a big change in your music teaching studio? Whether you’re moving to no make-up lessons or bringing in groups, I’ve got the step-by-step process you need to help you make the transition.
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You’re listening to episode forty eight of the vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and in this episode I’ll give you my step by step process for making any change in your music teaching business.
Welcome lovely teachers today. As I mentioned last week I’m going to talk you through my process for making a change in your studio. This was originally a blog post which was on the colourful keys blog a little while back and I’ll leave a link to the original post in case you want to look through it in text format and get a slightly different perspective. But I wanted to share it here on the podcast because I know many of you are audio fans. That’s why you’re listening and may not have read the original blog post or may just have trouble taking it in, in that context and find it more useful in this podcast format. So we’re going to talk through these step by step process for making changes in your studio. And first I wanted to give you an example of what kind of changes we’re talking about here. Really we’re talking about any change in your business but some of the examples of changes you might be making and thinking about making for the New Year are maybe moving to a no makeup policy as suggested strongly in Episode 19. Or maybe you’re bringing in some group workshops as part of your studio’s calendar maybe in place of lessons some week maybe in addition and there’s going to be an additional charge for that or something like that.
Maybe you’re considering switching over or planning to switch over to buddy lessons or partner lessons. And if you want more about buddy lessons you can definitely find it here on the podcast and on the blog as well. But those are my overlapping lessons that I do so I made that change a few years back myself. And this is basically the exact process I used for that. You might also be bringing in a new way of keeping parents in the loop. Maybe you’re integrating an app for practice time that maybe they’re going to need to pay extra for or they just need to get on board to use that app and have everyone sort of enroll in that process of practicing. Or maybe you’re going to have parents attend more of the lessons or maybe you’re going to do extra workshops specifically for parents. Perhaps you’re going to bring in a group program whether it’s for everyone or whether it’s just a preschool group program that you want to announce. That’s a change in new studio and they step by step process will help you bring it in and make people excited about it and ready for their transition.
Ok. So those are some of the changes you might be making. This will also be applicable to almost any change you want to make do your business for the next year. So I hope it will be useful for you. The first step I call step zero. And that’s because it may be obvious to some of you. And that’s to have a plan. Silly I know and you’re here for the plan right. But I’m not talking about that plan. I’m talking about the plan for what exactly you’re doing before you start rolling this out and communicating with parents and making or doing all this step by step process. I want you to be extremely clear about what change you’re making. So make sure you have clearly laid out for yourself the tuition structure the fees that you’re going to be charging for this new system or the way the fees are going to change the structure that you’re going to use the policies around it how everything is going to fit together make sure it’s all mapped out because if you’re not clear you’re not going to be able to communicate with confidence and answer all those questions that are going to come up part of your process for preparing for this change in my opinion means to be to write it out. I’m a big fan of lists whether it’s in a Google Doc whether it’s you’re more of a sheet type of person and you want to lay it all out in a spreadsheet whether you make scribbles in a notebook or have a giant piece of paper on the wall that you brainstorm on and make everything clear in your head.
I think you need to have something down on paper or on screen that will help you clarify all of the details about this. And as part of that process I think a really useful exercise to do is to make an FAQ SHEET. Frequently Asked Questions. Now that might sound odd because how can there be frequently asked questions with something you haven’t done yet. But actually most FAQs are made in advance of releasing things and they are just predictions. And then over time they evolve. That’s certainly the case on my sites. I have very vague sheets and when they started it’s just my guess at what questions are going to be and you’re usually right if you think it through carefully right. So have a think through what are the questions people might ask and what would the answers be laid out just like you would see an FAQs section on a website or in a brochure you don’t ever have to give that to anyone or use it word for word but it will help you to gain clarity around exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and what the policies are and how it’s going to work. So come up with a draft list of possible FAQs from parents and answer them for yourself and then an important question to ask yourself where the change and this depends largely on the change that you’re making.
But a very important question to ask yourself in most cases is will you take no for an answer. If you go into this process not being clear about whether you will or you won’t it’s going to make for a nightmare for everyone especially you. So for example if you’re moving to no makeups I’m assuming no you will not take no for an answer. That’s your new policy. If you are bringing in group workshops instead of private lessons some week is going to be a horrible horrendous. If some people opt out of that system so probably you’re not going to take no for an answer there. But if you’re moving to something like buddy lessons or if you’re moving to group lessons are you willing to let some people keep the old system. I was when I changed to buddy lessons but it’s a tradeoff. You have to consider the impact that’s going to have on your schedule and how well this changeover works for you vs. whether you were willing to lose the students. So if you decide you will not take no for an answer then this is your policy you will stick to it no matter what. Whatever your changes and if students don’t like it basically they can leave you’ll have a discussion with them. You’ll try to convince them if they’re really upset about it but otherwise there’s the door.
They’re on the way out whereas if you have in your mind that if they really object to it you will give in. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But be clear about it don’t have a debate later on down the track when people are really kicking up a fuss about something to ask yourself. Or should I change it back. Should I let them do this should I let them do that. No. Decide in advance. You’re going to be so much clearer about this in advance than you ever could be in the moment. It is impossible to make that decision later. So decide it now. OK so that’s step zero you’ve got your FAQ sheet, you’re clear about every detail of what you’re changing as much as possible. And you know whether you will take no for an answer or whether you’re going to show people the door if that’s the case you’re ready for step one step one is to hype it up over time as slowly as you can. OK. So if you’re making the change in a few months that’s a great time to start hyping it up. Start talking it up to parents and students. It’s important to say this to the kiddos as well depending on the change. This may be more or less relevant. Obviously if you’re just raising your fees then you got really dug out to students about why that’s better for them.
But if you’re making an actual change such as bringing in group workshops you can start mentioning that to students over time. You can start saying Hey you remember when we played that game in your last lesson. I wish we had more time to do that. And I’ve decided to bring in group workshops next year so that we can play games together more often or improvise together more often or whatever is relevant for your situation. You can start talking that up to students and getting them excited about the future in your studio and how it’s gonna be even better even better than their lessons. Now how about that and you can talk things up to parents casually over time as well. And as the months go by or the weeks you can start to make this slightly more formal and slightly more definite but in the beginning just little mentions here there is perfect to get people thinking about the fact that you’re going to make this change next year. By the way if you haven’t noticed this about people they don’t like change. So the more gentle you can be and you can ramp it up over time the better. So you can hype it up to students and parents over several months. Now I recommend that you if relevant mention it at least three times before you make a proper announcement in different ways. So some examples of how you might talk about it.
It could go in a studio newsletter and this would be you would just talk about how fantastic it’s going to be. And it’s sort of more vague terms without the policies and the details and the payment plans or whatever you just talk about it as being an exciting thing that’s coming like coming soon and kind of section. You can also mention it in emails to parents just casually or as part of a studio newsletter email. You can put up posters in your studio about it that people can notice as they’re waiting for lessons or as they are hanging out in your studio. They can see that and see what’s coming. And you can mention these things in person and as sort of a formal Martha statements where you’re actually telling someone about it or as by the way is by the buys right just as they come up in conversation but start talking it up and mention that at least three times that’s the hyping section once it’s hyped and people have this nugget of an idea in their brain. You can start your official announcement and in your proper announcement I recommend that you basically do not mention yourself. So talk entirely about why this is great for them. OK. And answered in an e-mail and answered in person send out a letter if that’s what suits your community but talk entirely about the benefits for them and you will be able to come up with benefits for them if you really try.
And it is completely irrelevant to talk about the benefits for you. Yes you might think oh people should care that you know I’ve been running myself ragged doing all these makeup lessons or people should be aware of the fact that I can’t take payments in cash anymore because our bank is closing down in town. That’s not their concern. Yeah they’ll care on some level. But really what they care about what everybody cares about is basically themselves. Sorry. So you need to talk about why it’s better for them and come up with at least a few reasons why this is a benefit for them for the parents for their kids after you’ve made your talked about the benefits to parents. A major announcement. It’s time for step three and step three is to be extremely clear. So this might be your sort of you could consider this your second announcement but it’s basically just the details just the here’s what it’ll cost. Here’s what’ll happen. Yada yada yada. Here’s exactly what’s going to happen and the change that is going to make here’s how it’s different to what came before. When you’re doing this don’t over explain yourself. I mentioned this in the last episode. Don’t apologize. Don’t over explain yourself. Don’t go on and on. Basically not suggesting that you would but don’t say too much. Just give the bullet points. Make it easy to read easy to understand.
I recommend doing this in an e-mail in most cases but you could also do it as I say in the letter or in person and in person is a little bit unreliable because you’re going to have to say it over and over again to different people and it might go in one ear and out the other at least in an e-mail it was written down and you have that as a record for yourself and for them that they can look back at. So give your explanation be clear but be succinct. Don’t go on and on about it just give the basic details of exactly what is going to happen in an easy to understand no music jargon allowed no business jargon allowed kind of way straightforward plain English clear and to the point you’re ready for set for this the last step. Repeat repeat repeat Yes I said that people could look back at their email. They probably won’t. There will be plenty of people who will miss that email and they’ll miss the letter and they’ll miss the poster and they’ll be shocked when you’re making this change. When they finally realized that is so be prepared to repeat yourself don’t take offense by people not reading your stuff. People do not read because there is an onslaught of communication thrown at people these days. And the fact that they didn’t read your email is just a symptom of of our current culture I’m afraid so be prepared to repeat yourself.
Don’t get annoyed about it. Just repeat yourself in exactly the same way again and again and again. Rinse and repeat have sort of stock responses. You don’t have to repeat them verbatim but it’s good to have an idea of what you’re going to say. And just repeated over and over in exactly the same way. Be as patient as you possibly can answer everybody’s questions as they come up and don’t get annoyed with them. Don’t point out that you’ve already said it. Just say it again. Just say it as if it’s fresh. Pretend that you didn’t already say that I mean well if you did because to them maybe you didn’t. Right. Yeah. You did send it. I’m just saying from their perspective they haven’t heard it. Even if they read it even if you said it to their face they didn’t hear it. So you need to say it again just the same way and don’t over explain. Don’t make the fact that they’ve asked you the question again and again make you go into some detailed explanation or justification about it. Just repeat yourself. And if they keep berating you if they keep asking the same questions and they’re clearly just trying to find some wiggle room then shorten your answers don’t lengthen them. Just be clear and to the point. State the facts. This is your business. So you just say what’s going to happen with confidence and with clarity.
OK. That’s it. That’s your four steps slightly five steps if you can’t step 0 to make any change in your studio. STEP 0 is to have a plan and be extremely clear about what you’re going to do. Step one is to start hyping it up gradually over time. Step two is to put the focus on them. And what this is going to be like for them and why it’s fantastic for them and their child. Step three is to give a very clear and succinct announcement. And step four is to rinse and repeat and be as patient as humanly possible. Change is hard. Change takes a bit of reputation and a bit of time but you will get there and you might just be surprised no matter how big the changes we are making. How few people will actually walk out that door. In my experience and my experience working with lots of different teachers that’s usually the direction it goes. In the end not that many people leave and the ones that you do they were not your people. They’re not a good fit because this is something you believe in doing you want for your business and you believe is better for your parents in your studio and your students. You believe it’s better aligned to your teaching philosophies and what you want for your business. And if that’s true then just wave bye. Just say bye bye to the people that walk out the door and move on.
You’ll find new students if you are still swarming and maybe contemplating these changes and fretting and stressing about your business then you might want to stick around until the end of August when I’m going to be running the studio business cleanse again and this time I’m doing it here on the podcast. So at the end of August we’re doing a full business cleanse to get you ready for the new year. And if you can’t wait until then with your burning business questions or you have specifics about this episode or recent ones or any recent resources in the library then you can come along to the vibrant music teaching Q and A session for members this week. So those are on this week. Members can go to vibrantmusicteaching.com/calendar to find out exactly when it is in your time zone and if you’re not a member yet and you want to come along.
All you need to do is sign up at VMT.ninja to get access straight away. I’ll see you there. Vibrant music teaching members get access to live Q and A sessions every month as well as a enormous library of courses and an enormous library of games and resources and improvisation prompts and everything you could ever need to make your teaching more fun, enjoyable and more successful. You can sign up today at VMT.ninja and get access to all of the resources on the site straight away. See you on the inside.
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