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#1971379 - 10/10/12 03:10 PM Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help
jamie0168 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/10/12
Posts: 1
At the suggestion of all the professional piano teachers I knew, I recently raised my rates starting in September of this year. My inital fear was that my current students/parents would leave.

Actually, the opposite happened. They all stayed and I have had NO new students join the studio since! I've had at least 10 prospective students ask about joining the studio, every one of which has even refused a complimentary first lesson! Last semester, 8 out of those 10 students would have joined my studio! What is going on? Was raising my rates to be comparable with other teachers in my area a bad decision? What do I do? Did anyone else go through this?

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#1971436 - 10/10/12 05:00 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Europe
As your rates are now at the same level as everybody else's, you're not anymore just the 'best choice' because of lower rates. On contrary, the prospective students have several teachers at the same rate level to choose from, which might have had the effect you experienced.
How much did you rise the rates?
Why don't you wait and see what happens next time? In the meantime, you could do some publicity like an open student concert, inviting for open lessons, etc. to make yourself wellknown.
_________________________
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

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#1971443 - 10/10/12 05:12 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
to the forum.

It could be that even if you hadn't raised your rates, you would have experienced the same inactivity. Assuming you live in the USA, you might be aware that we're in a major recession, borderline depression. Real unemployment is around 23% (when calculated the way they did back then); real income has dropped by over $4,000/yr; cost of living has sky-rocketed, check food and gas prices for starters. I know my wife & I've had to cut back on many activities which we used to do without a second thought. Ever since the recession started, I've notice a decline in both inquiries and accessions to the studio. From what I hear from my teachers' association, we're not alone! There are no easy answers. You could offer substantial incentives for new students, but don't be surprised if this doesn't generate much foot traffic. Piano lessons are just not seen as a must do activity by most Americans. In any event, I wish you the best of luck.
_________________________
"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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#1971456 - 10/10/12 05:34 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
PApianoteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/12
Posts: 36
You are not alone at all! I have been teaching piano lessons about 2 1/2 years now, starting with 5 students and working up to 15 before I started turning people away (I also have a full time job). I had never lost a student until the end of this August. I've lost 4 more since then. Rather than raise my rates this year I made my policies stricter and went to monthly billing with everyone. Looks like my "honeymoon" period is over!

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#1971461 - 10/10/12 05:45 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Jamie, there is a brighter way to look at this. You have both given yourself a raise and preserved all of your students. That is a good thing, and a testament to your teaching abilities.

The other responses are similar to mine. It's an especially rough time in the US for "frills" like the arts. Just hang in there, and keep teaching well. I'm sure you didn't raise your rates radically, or beyond the norm for your area.

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#1971943 - 10/11/12 05:37 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
April's Piano St. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/11
Posts: 27
Loc: Denton, Texas
I can relate to what you're going through jamie. I actually lost about 7 students all together. Some just fizzled out over the summer and didn't return and the others decided to not continue for what seems to be a variety of reasons. A few quit over the newer, stricter policy and perhaps also the increased tuition. You're lucky you have not lost any! I'm also not getting much interest right now. Last year, September and October was full of phone calls and e-mails for prospective students. Almost NONE this year.. ugh!! Just trying to wait it out and conserve as much money as possible. It's tough right now.
_________________________
April's Piano Studio
"Where music and imagination meet!"
www.aprilspianostudio.net

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#1971996 - 10/11/12 07:00 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: Peter K. Mose]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Just hang in there, and keep teaching well.

I'm doing that. I'm a much better teacher now than four years ago. But somehow that doesn't translate to getting more students.

It's a giant paradox.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1972009 - 10/11/12 07:14 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
My daughter's studio has rates by level. So levels 3 and under are 105 a month for a 30 minute lesson once a week. Levels 4 and up are 125 a month for a 30 minute lesson.

I'm not sure WHY it's like that (books are out of pocket), but you could offer a slightly lower rate for first year students and then after they have been there a year, raise rates for them.

I think it would work well because sight unseen all teachers are comparable to a parent who is clueless and looking for a "bargain" and you are worth more because your current students are very happy and pay the higher rate.





Edited by MaggieGirl (10/11/12 07:17 PM)

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#1972010 - 10/11/12 07:15 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Beginning students take MORE work than any other! I should charge a mint . . .
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1972038 - 10/11/12 08:40 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
bajabill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 86
Loc: mid USA
Were all of the teachers urging you to raise your rates competitors?

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#1972059 - 10/11/12 09:49 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Welcome to the forum! smile

Congratulations-- looks like your students think you're a good teacher!

Because your students have been with you, they know the value of your teaching and they are willing to pay a higher price to keep you because they know that you deserve it.

However, when prospective students come to you and you raise your price after you've explicitly told them a different price, then two things happen:

(1) You break what fragile trust you've established between yourselves (because you're essentially strangers)

(2) They don't know the value of your skill and they don't feel that the raise is justified in the first place.

So you've got the piano teaching part down, it seems. Now you have to get the marketing part!

Do you give free interviews? Maybe frame the "free lesson" as a "free interview" instead, so you don't sound desperate, especially after a price raise.

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#1972128 - 10/12/12 12:32 AM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: MaggieGirl]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
you could offer a slightly lower rate for first year students and then after they have been there a year, raise rates for them.



Exactly.
_________________________
Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#1972273 - 10/12/12 11:43 AM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: jamie0168]
Miss Karen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 69
Loc: Kent, WA (Covington)
Jamie,
I have been keeping track of when students terminate and join the last five years I have opened at my current location. Last year was far the worst I have ever experienced. I lost half of my studio due to the recession. It was delayed but it happened. I could not believe it. In 2 1/2 years ago, I raised my rates for the new and incoming students only. I have only retained four students on my old rates. One student is beginning her 6th year with me.

Now my studio is returning to the levels I had two years ago. I have a credit program my existing students to get them to refer me. This has helped gain new students.

The fall rush I thought I usually have each year has not happened. I had seven or so new students come on board during the spring and early summer this year. Do not fear but as a matter of time, your studio will get more students. The new students that started my studio with the new rates, have been with me for over 2 years.

I used to take it personally when students left but now, it is just part of the process. People change and as well as economy does change too. I just go with the flow with my business and find out what works and does not work to retain my students for long periods of time. I am trying not to be complacent and try to keep up with the trends of teaching along with music pedagogy and genres for my students. We are in a service business that is constantly changing.

Don't give up.
_________________________
Karen
Redwood Piano Studio
http://redwoodpianostudio.atspace.com/

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#1972275 - 10/12/12 11:48 AM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: AZNpiano]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5429
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Just hang in there, and keep teaching well.

I'm doing that. I'm a much better teacher now than four years ago. But somehow that doesn't translate to getting more students.

It's a giant paradox.
I'm just wondering if this is close to composition where marketing, advertising and networking plays the MOST important part, rather than how good you are... ?
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1975165 - 10/18/12 12:42 PM Re: Raised my rates...starting to look like a bad decision. Help [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gisele Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 155
Loc: Schenectady, Saratoga Counties...
John,
I feel better after reading your post. This year, I lost 7 students. Three of them left because they can pursue other instruments (if you know what I mean) at their schools. The instrument rental is cheaper than paying for piano lessons. The schools provide weekly lessons and books for free so why pay for lessons?
In order to keep clientele, I've had to focus on finding younger students and get them interested in piano so at least I have them for 3 or 4 years. (I think our schools introduce stringed instruments when the kids turn 8 or 9.)
Although I've found some students to start this year, I don't have as many as last year. My husband's income hasn't increased in 3 years, our health insurance coverage is eating up any income we have (thus our net income is really lower than it was last year) and our kids are old enough to start activities.
So you're right, there's no easy answer. We've had to add another method to supplement our income but there's only 24 hours/day so we're doing the best we can.
_________________________
Gisele Sum, gsum82-piano@hotmail.com
Piano and Theory Teacher
Principal Church Organist and/or Choir Accompaniment

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