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#1571430 - 12/06/10 04:20 PM Sibling Discounts?
Kawai_Teacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 25
Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.

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#1571456 - 12/06/10 05:10 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
yes, I do family discounts, mainly because it's less paper work for me. I usually do about $10 off per month for families with 2 or more students. I realize it's the same amount of time for preparation, etc. but payments and paperwork and communicating with parents are all made easier when there are multiple kids in the same family. The parents have really appreciated this too.
_________________________
Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

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#1571529 - 12/06/10 06:29 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
RSByrne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 27
Loc: Wollongong, AUS
At the studio I work at we do discounts, not only for siblings but for also kids that do more than one method (I have students who do piano, singing and guitar!). Its a loyalty thing, I think its like a 5% discount, or for each sibling/method its a special price discount. When I was teaching privately at home, I gave discounts to the family who I had two kids with, and then their cousin. It was great for me because they all came on the same afternoon and I had them all one after the other! smile (it was a matter of a few dollars for each as they were young and had short lessons, but they appreciated it)
_________________________
Rebecca.
Private Piano Teacher, Conservatorium Recorder teacher, Primary School Band Method Teacher

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#1571570 - 12/06/10 08:20 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I don't, because I don't work any less or spend less time with siblings than any other two children.

That said, my siblings do get other benefits. They get a longer lab time because they stay back-to-back, and they work on duets more often.
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1571584 - 12/06/10 08:46 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
I think its fair to offer a sibling discount. Piano lessons are a big expense for most families and a little discount for the 2nd student in the same house is a nice gesture. Moreover, if you are traveling to your students house you are "saving" the commute(time & money).
As for how much, I think that 20% off the 2nd lesson is a fair discount. I specified "for the 2nd lesson..." and I suggest that you'll do the same because if you are teaching 2 students and normally charging 50$ a lesson, in this case the 2nd lesson would be discounted to 40$ which means you get paid 90$ total. Now, If one of the students is sick or have to skip a lesson for some reason you want to make sure that you'll get paid for the one lesson that you gave a full one-lesson-rate--50$ and not...90$/2 which means 45$.

Make sense ?
_________________________
Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1571589 - 12/06/10 08:51 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Kawai_Teacher
Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.


I Kawai Teacher,

I do not offer a discount to siblings. But just wanted to say that if you do offer a discount, I think it should be part of your policy that everyone can see. (Not just giving a discount to those who ask.)

What would be the purpose of offering a discount? Is it that you think it is really a financial burden for parents to pay for more than one child's lessons? If so, it puts you in the position of guessing someone's finances. (Not so easy to judge IMO...and I'd prefer to stay out of it.)
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1571633 - 12/06/10 10:50 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Kawai_Teacher
Hi all,

How many of you offer tuition discounts for 2 or more students per family?

I'm trying to decide whether to offer a discount to siblings upfront, offer it only if they ask, how much of a discount, etc. Right now I don't have do discounts for siblings, but am considering it.

Thanks for your input.

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?

Parents are purchasing your time, skills and knowledge. That doesn't change based on the number of students you have, whether from one family or multiple families. Furthermore, discounts announce to the world that you're not worth what you're charging, whomever is paying the regular freight are schlemiels, and everyone should negotiate the lower rate. As Ann mentioned, you don't know parents finances and it's highly presumptuous to guess. I've had families falling in the $30k income range pay full freight without complaint, and a family earning $300k grouse and whine continually about my rates. Just set your rates and stick with them.

About billing - as the computer does the work, the only savings I get for family billing is one 1st class stamp and one envelope.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1571663 - 12/06/10 11:46 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Kawai_Teacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 25
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?



The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.

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#1571700 - 12/07/10 01:01 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Are we serfs?


Don't we all feel like that, at least once or twice a month??
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1571722 - 12/07/10 02:09 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
John v.d. Brook...I feel you as I'm sure every other teaching/performing musician here does. I know where its coming from and I completely sympathies. However, thank god we don't have to visit (not to mention to pay) a dentist or a lawyer or the garage every single week of the year. I think that if you went to the garage every week of the year and then started taking your scooter in addition to the car...you'd appreciate a little gesture of good will...a little discount, no ?

Its only fair, you're giving them more work, they're giving you a little break...

Back to our world...I do agree, whatever route you choose it should be a policy and shouldn't be sporadic.

I think you should trust your instincts, if you feel that siblings discount is right for you and your clients that's great and that's what you should do...and otherwise.
_________________________
Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1571842 - 12/07/10 08:23 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Dror Perl


Its only fair, you're giving them more work, they're giving you a little break...



Looking at who is "giving" more work opens a can of worms. Then you would have to look at who referred a new student to you. And then what if the new student knows more than one family in your studio...and they both mentioned your name etc.

I think what is "fair" is to charge the same for everyone. Although I agree with an exception some have mentioned in other threads for adults who schedule during school hours.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1571864 - 12/07/10 09:05 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I don't give discounts. I've been asked for them for many different things - sibling discounts, referral fees, missed lessons, hard times, etc. I learned the hard way that discounts soon start to feel like entitlements.

Folks forget that they were being given a discount. A sibling quits, and suddenly the other sibling's tuition increases and parents are surprised. I used to give a discount to folks who paid on time up front. But then paying a week late, with the full price, felt like a penalty to them and they would usually hand me a check with the discount built in, and I would have to ask for the difference. Very uncomfortable.

I started out with a "loyalty rate" - not raising tuition for 3 years if lessons continue uninterrupted. I am phasing that out. Parents have forgotten why they haven't had a tuition increase, and are dismayed by the increase, rather than being grateful for its delay.

I have two families who scrimp and scrape to pay for lessons. With one of those families, I was able to help by enrolling the student in Premier Piano's free books program (don't think it's available for new students any more). I am careful about buying new music for these two families - they are more likely to get books from my lending library, or freebies from the Internet. I also tend to have a bit more patience if they are late with a check.

Ironically, because they value what they are paying for, they are two of my best students.

I teach 4 sets of family members. In each case, they have back to back lessons. The "discount" the parent gets is that they only have to drive here once for two kids. They get an hour off, rather than 30 minutes, as the sibling hangs out here. The students play more duets, share resources, and are allowed to practice on my other piano during their sibling's lesson.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1571880 - 12/07/10 09:33 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Berlin
I think from a purely business point of view it doesn't make much sense. The parents aren't going to shop around for a 2nd teacher if a sibling starts piano. So you don't generate any business from your discount, you just make less money for the same work.

However, I do think that if you teach at their house, a discount for back-to-back lessons makes a lot of sense. You probably prefer only driving once even if you get $5 less and it's good for the environment too!
_________________________
aim for the moon - if you miss, at least you'll be among the stars.

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#1571882 - 12/07/10 09:34 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 419
Loc: Worcester, UK
I agree - no discounts. Actually, for me, offering a family discount would cost me way too much; since I teach several families - it certainly wouldn't be fair to offer it to some and not others - the net result of any discount worth talking about would be the equivalent of my losing at least a couple of students.

As regards to those teachers who travel to the students' homes - a discount makes sense here, as it is not just the expense of traveling which is saved, but the time taken as well, BUT... I would be charging a premium for the visit in the first place - it would be this premium I would waive for the second student.


Edited by Ben Crosland (12/07/10 09:37 AM)
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Teacher, Composer, Sound Designer

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#1571894 - 12/07/10 09:59 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Kawai_Teacher
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Why? Why would you even consider it? Does your dentist give you a family discount? How about your MD or your family lawyer? Maybe the auto garage gives you a discount on maintenance because you service all your cars there? No? Then why should piano teachers? Are we serfs?



The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.





I second John here. I would not give a discount for a student from the same family. I used to, but then realized that each student is getting the same product form me, individualized attention, and that I could fill that discounted student with a non-family member at my regular rate.

If a family is going through a hard time, then consider doing trade out of some kind. Perhaps they live on a farm and can give you fresh eggs. I have one student whose father comes to clean my studio twice a month for a discount. Another gives me firewood for my fireplace. In each of these instances, the families fell on hard times and the students were very talented and hard-working and had been with me for many years.


Edited by Morodiene (12/07/10 10:05 AM)
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1571899 - 12/07/10 10:05 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Dror, there's a way around this without offering discounts, and that's to offer incentives. Incentives are one-time specials, not on-going income reduction. For example, child x has a sibling who is not studying with you. Offer the parent an incentive of $250 off the year's tuition if child y begins lessons now. This way, you've increased your student load, without a long term commitment at reducing your income.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1571925 - 12/07/10 10:37 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky


[/quote]

The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.



[/quote]

When we see someone with financial difficulties we can think "How can I help this poor soul?" We can respond by giving financially (or free lessons). The benefit we receive is that we feel like we've been a good person.

OTOH, we can allow the person the dignity of solving their own financial problems. We can still have confidence that "I am a good person". The person with financial trouble then gains dignity by solving his own problems. It may be that he needs to learn to live within his means.

I have a sister who called me years ago saying she had a friend asking for a few hundred dollars so he could pay his mortgage (my sister only rented). She felt it would be a heavy burden to come up with money for him, but she was undecided what to do. She asked my advice. I suggested she allow him the dignity of solving his own financial problems. And I think it helped her to feel OK about saying "No".
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1571943 - 12/07/10 11:00 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL


Quote:


The reason why I am thinking about it is because a particular family mentioned a while ago that they're financially in a difficult place. They did NOT ask for a discount nor were they trying to drop a hint; it is something I thought of myself. Their older daughter is currently my student, and their younger daughter is interested in starting lessons.





Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
When we see someone with financial difficulties we can think "How can I help this poor soul?" We can respond by giving financially (or free lessons). The benefit we receive is that we feel like we've been a good person.

OTOH, we can allow the person the dignity of solving their own financial problems. We can still have confidence that "I am a good person". The person with financial trouble then gains dignity by solving his own problems. It may be that he needs to learn to live within his means.

I have a sister who called me years ago saying she had a friend asking for a few hundred dollars so he could pay his mortgage (my sister only rented). She felt it would be a heavy burden to come up with money for him, but she was undecided what to do. She asked my advice. I suggested she allow him the dignity of solving his own financial problems. And I think it helped her to feel OK about saying "No".


Good point, Ann. Also, the student in question is only thinking about starting lessons. This means that she may or may not want to continue. I would never start out with a discount for a new student, even within the same family. Letting them solve their own financial problems is usually the best advice. If it really means a lot to the younger sibling to start, the parents will ind a way to make it happen. If not, then perhaps it's for the best that she doens't begin.


Edited by Morodiene (12/07/10 11:01 AM)
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1572025 - 12/07/10 01:08 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
There's definitely a lot of good suggestions & input up here.

To summarize on my part (I hope smile ):

A. I Think that giving a discount doesn't have anything to do with the quality of your work. The way I see it its a simple good will gesture. I'm sure that every teacher knows the quality of their work, and every client knows as well (obviously since we are talking about a house where you already teach one student).

B. reading everything above...

I really think that you should ask yourself why are you giving the discount. If its coming from a business perspective...its probably not going to "get" you anything, so there's no reason for the discount. however, if its coming from a genuine place, a gesture of good will for all the obvious reasons (You know your local customers the best)you should trust your instinct and go for it. As simple as...that
_________________________
Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1572297 - 12/07/10 09:06 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 876
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Why yes, I do get a family discount from my dentist. I didn't ask for it. They have way plenty of business and I have a feeling that the rates went up but since our family has been going there for over 40 years, we have been exempted and kept at the same rate which shows up as a discount on the bill.

I sort of get a family discount from our piano teacher. My son was already a student when I started and I get an hour for the 45 minute rate (it helps that I go during school hours). Again I didn't ask for it; it was just offered. I appreciate the gesture and try to be a trouble-free client family.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1572300 - 12/07/10 09:13 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1572325 - 12/07/10 09:58 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.

Well John, you should put your rates up!! wink grin
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1572373 - 12/07/10 11:47 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Canonie]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
way up !!! smile (and i'm only talking...about fillings...nothing complicated)
_________________________
Dror Perl. Pianist, Composer, Teacher.

http://www.sheerpiano.com/

Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1572378 - 12/07/10 11:48 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Canonie]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Canonie
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
So it's really a loyalty/longevity discount, not a family discount. Singles who have been with the dentist for years probably also receive it as well. Of course, if I could charge the hourly rate your dentist charges, I think I might be inclined to show the same courtesy to my students who have been with me for over 40 years.

Well John, you should put your rates up!! wink grin

You think my rates are low? They are just about what the market will carry.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1572380 - 12/07/10 11:49 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Dror Perl]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
How about for a "bridge?"
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1572404 - 12/08/10 12:37 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I didn't used to but my business has finally been hit by the bad economy. I lost both of my school gigs this year and had 4 families (each with 2 kids) not return in the fall due to their financial situation. Plus my own family is currently totally dependent on my income due to my husbands business fading to almost nothing.

So...uh...yeah...in addition to family discounts...I am also offering a referral bonus for new students, and a slight discount if they pay me in cash every month. I recently also took on a student who is taking lessons every other week on a little keyboard......horrors! smile

I used to be so strict with my "policy" and my "rules"....and even turn away students if certain criteria weren't met, etc. But there has been a shift for myself and my family. I've had to open my mind and ultimately my heart.

It's been very humbling and I was pretty angry at first...but once I accepted it, my life began to feel really exciting...like I'm back-packing on the cheap! Here are some positive aspects of having less than what we're used to:

1. We are so much more resourceful with cooking on the cheap. And so much less wasteful than before. For example, I used to buy 3 different kinds of chips every week and end up throwing a third of them away every week. (Also drinking less alcohol...probably healthier...but when this gets better I'm getting my Spaten Optimators back!)
2. We are down to one car....good for us and good for the earth. Lots of walking and cycling now.
3. We are working less so we have more free time to spend with our daughter and each other. I have started writing a book which I thought would never happen.
4. The teaching every other week thing is working for that little kid and his mom is going to get a digital piano in the new year. I'm so glad I didn't turn him away!
5. When we do get to eat out- which used to be at least once a week- it feels really special.
6. I'm getting better at accepting help...
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1572427 - 12/08/10 02:07 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Lollipop]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
A sibling quits, and suddenly the other sibling's tuition increases and parents are surprised.

Usually when one sibling quits, the other(s) quit, too, either simultaneously, or within a few months. I think I started a thread on this topic several months ago. I was content with the older sibling, but the younger one is becoming a drag. I was contemplating keeping one and sending the other to a more patient teacher. As things turned out, they both quit piano for good.

A long time ago, I used to hand out sibling discounts, until I found out the dangers of teaching siblings. Sometimes I'm suddenly left with a 2-hour hole in my schedule.
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#1572537 - 12/08/10 08:45 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: trillingadventurer]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
I didn't used to but my business has finally been hit by the bad economy. I lost both of my school gigs this year and had 4 families (each with 2 kids) not return in the fall due to their financial situation. Plus my own family is currently totally dependent on my income due to my husbands business fading to almost nothing.

So...uh...yeah...in addition to family discounts...I am also offering a referral bonus for new students, and a slight discount if they pay me in cash every month. I recently also took on a student who is taking lessons every other week on a little keyboard......horrors! smile

I used to be so strict with my "policy" and my "rules"....and even turn away students if certain criteria weren't met, etc. But there has been a shift for myself and my family. I've had to open my mind and ultimately my heart.

It's been very humbling and I was pretty angry at first...but once I accepted it, my life began to feel really exciting...like I'm back-packing on the cheap! Here are some positive aspects of having less than what we're used to:

1. We are so much more resourceful with cooking on the cheap. And so much less wasteful than before. For example, I used to buy 3 different kinds of chips every week and end up throwing a third of them away every week. (Also drinking less alcohol...probably healthier...but when this gets better I'm getting my Spaten Optimators back!)
2. We are down to one car....good for us and good for the earth. Lots of walking and cycling now.
3. We are working less so we have more free time to spend with our daughter and each other. I have started writing a book which I thought would never happen.
4. The teaching every other week thing is working for that little kid and his mom is going to get a digital piano in the new year. I'm so glad I didn't turn him away!
5. When we do get to eat out- which used to be at least once a week- it feels really special.
6. I'm getting better at accepting help...


This brings up an excellent point. It all depends on how "hungry" you are as a teacher. If your studio is not full or you need to make more money, then you certainly should give whatever incentives you can to get students. This is one reason why I do appreciate when new teachers decide to start teaching. They can take on students that perhaps someone with an established studio or someone who is full and will therefore only add another student if they are particularly talented would not be willing to teach. I've been at my maximum for a while, but since my husband is going through a change in his business I'm taking on students that I might not normally take, even ones that just want a "few voice lessons" so they can sing karaoke.

So it all depends on where you are at in your studio. Are you full and have to turn people away? Or are you trying to get more students? Offering a sibling discount, while in theory doesn't make sense (you don't do less work for the 2nd child), can be a good incentive for a family who is on the fence with starting lessons.
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#1572579 - 12/08/10 10:07 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The "hungry" factor certainly plays a role, but it is always fraught with dangers. When you begin discounting, you're going to get a reputation as a teacher who can be had at a lower rate if you negotiate hard enough. And after the recession, what will be your explanation for discontinuing your discounts? There are clever ways to work around "discounting" and maintain your reputation.

One possibility is to present to the parent the idea of a shorter lesson at the lower price, as it is surely better than no lesson at all, but teach them the longer time anyway. That is, charge them full price for a 30 min lesson, but teach the student for 40 minutes. Another way, especially with siblings, is to teach the students shorter lessons, back to back. As the students are listening to the other student's lesson, they are actually learning and gaining from the experience.
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#1572617 - 12/08/10 11:10 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The "hungry" factor certainly plays a role, but it is always fraught with dangers. When you begin discounting, you're going to get a reputation as a teacher who can be had at a lower rate if you negotiate hard enough. And after the recession, what will be your explanation for discontinuing your discounts?
I agree. I think the best way to end this is to phase it out, and simply not offer it as an option to new students. As the students who were grandfathered in need increase in lesson times, you just let the parents know what the new cost would be, without having a discount. If they ask, you can explain to them the reasons that have been listed above for not giving discounts, but generally they don't ask.
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1573702 - 12/10/10 12:42 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
This is why I love teaching piano: I can try certain things out for awhile and then if it doesn't work I can do something else.
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#1574000 - 12/10/10 12:54 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: AZNpiano]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

A long time ago, I used to hand out sibling discounts, until I found out the dangers of teaching siblings. Sometimes I'm suddenly left with a 2-hour hole in my schedule.


This, exactly. I find that teaching siblings is MORE trouble than teaching singles. And Mom is so overwhelmed, driving her three kids around all the time, that she's even more likely to cancel.

Canceling aside, I had so many sibling groups this year that just scheduling around their requirements was a nightmare.

The mom with 3 piano daughters waits in my waiting room. The next students might show up a bit early, a sibling pair plus dad. I've got to acomodate 6 people at once in my waiting room, now!

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#1574021 - 12/10/10 01:18 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: trillingadventurer]
Kawai_Teacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 25
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
This is why I love teaching piano: I can try certain things out for awhile and then if it doesn't work I can do something else.


Very true. Of course it'd be nice to have everything figured out from the beginning, but at least we have the flexibility to change things as private teachers!

Thanks for everyone's suggestions and comments; you've all made some good points.

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#1914694 - 06/16/12 09:32 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
NightDream Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 18
I go to people's homes, but I decided not to do a sibling discount because I have parents who were eager to pay me full price. Those are the kinds of families I want to work with. They know I am worth the money and that it is already a great deal for what I'm giving them. I teach four sets of siblings. Once in a while, someone will call me and ask about a sibling discount, but I just tell them it's not something I have offered other families with multiple children, but we can discuss maybe a shorter lesson. Once in a while I will do a partial barter too, but bartering can't pay my rent.

Another issue is there is no guarantee those siblings will always be on the same schedule. One might start sports and another day might not work for both of them. I was just called today by a lady who wants lessons for her 3 kids, but $300 is a bit steep for her. I totally understand that, but I am in the same position. My kids don't get to do some activities because it's hard to afford. I have four children.
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#1914792 - 06/17/12 07:04 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I have a mother who pays me generously. I have taught her two daughters and have recently accepted her son as well as another adopted daughter. I have no idea how she figures out how much each kid is worth. The 17 year old pays more than the 7 year old. the super talented 11 year old, is somewhere in the middle.

I don't ask.. i just go deposit the checks. she pays by the month. Sometimes she can't quite figure out the amount so she just writes me three checks. she pays for lessons skipped (a rarity) and always seems to tack on an extra twenty dollars. She explained one time. I just said "Jane.. really, you don't have to pay me if a kid misses a lesson", but she insists. Sometimes i think she is adopting these extra kids just so I'll have something to do.

She is a fascinating woman and her own biological children have very acute intelligence. Of the 6 children she has adopted in the last 4 years, 5 have special needs (hopefully 4). This is not a foster child state funded thing, she actually adopts the children. I like how i can depend on that monthly income and don't know whether i would offer a discounted price. I have taught other siblings before and was quite irritated at the thought of them receiving cheaper lessons just because there were 3 of them.

If they practiced, i probably would have felt differently.
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love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1914875 - 06/17/12 11:06 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1335
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Apple, isn't it odd that this woman plays you according to her own invented price structure and not your own? Does that ever bother you a little?

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#1914889 - 06/17/12 11:45 AM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Apple, isn't it odd that this woman plays you according to her own invented price structure and not your own? Does that ever bother you a little?


If a parent was paying me more than what my rates were, I don't think I'd be too bothered!

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#1914946 - 06/17/12 02:18 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i would be bothered, but i think i'd charge her about 75 dollars less monthly. she really is generous i think. I wouldn't have any other students if i charged them what she gives me for her kids.

i do find it funny tho, that Claire is worth more than Anthony. I do have to practice to prepare for Claire, but i need to practice somtimes anyway.

I am really excited about teaching this 7 year old boy. he is so eager and was sooooo nervous the other day. I just hugged him, he was so very frightened. that probably scared him worse.
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accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1915026 - 06/17/12 08:13 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Para Otras]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Para Otras
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Apple, isn't it odd that this woman plays you according to her own invented price structure and not your own? Does that ever bother you a little?


If a parent was paying me more than what my rates were, I don't think I'd be too bothered!


Same here! It actually has happened before. The most grateful parents I've ever worked for. I've become great friends with them. Too bad their kids are the complete opposite.
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#1915036 - 06/17/12 08:55 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 189
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
I have a family who gives me an extra $50 quarterly than what I charge. It's a nice gesture and I certainly don't complain wink

It's true that there is less admin when teaching families who have more than one child learning piano, but I see that as a bonus of doing my job well enough that they want to enroll their other children in lessons. Why should I pay a penalty for that?

Most families, in my experience, will enroll their other children in lessons eventually WITHOUT a discount, so there is no point offering one. But then I live in a wealthy area where money isn't generally a problem.

I too can be a bleeding heart at the best of times and find it hard to stick to my business plan, but you have to remember that at the end of the day you ARE running a business, and it's poor business practice to bleed profits unnecessarily for clients who at the end of the day will probably feel entitled to the benefits you're offering them, rather than grateful for them.

While I agree somewhat that if you don't have a full studio you might want to make some concessions, I also think you have to consider what the message is that you are sending to prospective clients. How valuable is your time? Do you percieve yourself as a professional? etc. Policies, rates etc all are indicators of the answer to these questions.

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#1915038 - 06/17/12 09:01 PM Re: Sibling Discounts? [Re: Kawai_Teacher]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
To answer the original question, I do charge slightly less for an hour than for a half-hour lesson, and if the siblings enroll in an hour, they are charged the hourly rate rather than two half-hour rates.

Other than that, I don't do sibling discounts. I do give one family a discount because I enjoy teaching the boy and they are wonderful people who just can't afford more (in reality, they pay for 45 minutes and I let it run an extra 15 minutes). They never asked, I offered.

Every book I've read on studio running has said not to offer family discounts. I think it's a case-by-case, teacher-by-teacher process.

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