“When we run strong businesses, we empower not only ourselves, but our entire profession.” Shanta Hejmadi
I love this quote. That Shanta is a piano teacher (as well as a music teaching blogger and music teaching business advocate) is icing on the cake. This could work for any industry.
Teaching is the most honorable of vocations. We should feel as confident in our business and the good we do as any other professional. But we are musicians sharing our joy with others and maybe because of that joy, and the personal connections we make with our families, we tend to be flexible on the business side. While this flexibility is of questionable benefit to our students, it can truly do harm to us in the long run. Our business model, as Shanta says, also contributes to the industry standard for music teaching studios. We impact more than just ourselves.
Missed Lessons — Let’s talk numbers
Your policies have consequences. Before you implement a new policy or continue with the one you’ve got, it’s a good exercise to look at how they might play out over time.
It’s time for a missed lesson audit.
Let’s look at the numbers.
If you have a roster of 25 students and they each miss 4 scheduled lessons in a year, this is how it affects you.
25 student x 4 canceled lessons = 100 misses
100 misses x $30 (your rate per lesson) = $3000/year in refunds
*With 25 students at $30/lesson, this is equal to 1 month’s teaching salary.
25 students x 4 makeup lessons = 100 makeups
.5 hrs. (per lesson) x 100 makeups = 50 hours of teaching makeups/year
*Twenty five students taking 4 lessons (one month) = 50 hours. You will teach an additional month of lessons per year in the form of makeups.
The Retention Fallout from missing lessons
Your studio might have a “no makeup” policy. That’s a good start, but when students miss, there still are consequences.
A study by Attendance Works shows that when a child misses 10% of school, his or her test scores drop substantially. In fact 10% miss rate is called “chronic absence”. “Chronic absence is a proven early warning sign that a student is behind…and likely to drop out”, according to the same study.
Most music studios have a yearly lesson calendar of 38 lessons. Four absences per 38 scheduled lessons = over 10% absentee rate.
Missed lessons, just like missed school, can create apathy and disengagement. This leads to quitting.
Though it’s difficult to demand strict attendance in enrichment music lessons, we can try to mitigate the damage done by those absences.
An online “check in”, like LessonMate, does that very thing.
The missed lesson is part of your business.
Just as we need a plan to engage and instruct students when they’re at lessons, we need a plan on how to deal with them when they miss. By finding a missed lesson policy that doesn’t infringe on your schedule or financial bottom line while helping your students stay engaged and informed, we will indeed empower not only ourselves and our students, but the music teaching community at large.