I don’t know about you, but I feel like things are getting more and more expensive and money is getting harder and harder to come by. As piano teachers, we don’t get raises every year, (neither do most workers these days). Many teachers are nervous about raising rates, in fact, many teachers I know have not raised lesson prices in years. This post will focus on 10 ways to make your piano studio more profitable without raising lesson rates. I’m not talking about a few dollars here and there. These relatively painless tips can increase the profitability of your piano studio by thousands of dollars per year.
The number one way to have a vibrant profitable studio is to make sure that your adult students and your student’s parents understand what is involved in learning to play the piano. When people understand the benefits of playing the piano and what it takes to learn to play well they will become students who will attend lessons regularly, purchase the necessary materials, and stick with the piano.
Have a Studio Policy.
Have a studio policy that excludes or limits make-up lessons. Stick to your studio policy this will ensure that your studio will run smoothly and you will get paid for all of the lessons you are supposed to be teaching.
Bill monthly, semester or yearly tuition.
Don’t allow your students to pay weekly. Charging periodically will decrease missed lessons and make your piano studio more profitable.
Use the internet.
Using Skype or FaceTime for times when students can’t make it to a lesson because of inclement weather, sudden illness of a sibling or car trouble will keep your studio attendance up and therefore increase your studios’ profitability.
Charge a Recital Fee.
It’s your valuable time that makes it all happen. You should be compensated. Make sure you charge over and above what you will be paying if you are renting a venue. Charge a per-student fee or sell tickets to the event.
Have a yearly activity fee.
If you would rather not charge extra for things like recitals and supplemental materials consider having students pay a yearly activity fee to cover the cost of these things.
Teach at Home.
Teaching at home is the most profitable way to run a one person, private piano studio. Not only does this eliminate the overhead of renting a space, and the time and expense of traveling to student’s homes, in the U.S. you can actually use your home studio space as an income tax write off, making your piano studio more profitable.
Use Technology and Double-Up.
Consider having 2 students share an hour lesson (semi-private). One student works on things like music theory, music history, and note reading while the other receives his/her lesson. There are many ways to do this easily with both students in the same room. Charge each student less than you would for an hour-long lesson and a little more than you would for 30 minutes. Everyone wins!
Make Use of Summer and School Breaks.
For most piano teachers, lesson attendance takes a nosedive during summer school breaks. Encourage students to continue lessons over the summer. Offer to teach students of colleagues who usually take the summer off. Consider offering intensive lessons where a student comes every day for individualized instruction for a week or two. Small group classes in things like improvisation or music history are also a great way to make your piano studio more profitable. If your student will be away for the summer, offer to teach lessons online via Skype or Facetime.
Sell piano books and materials to your students.
Teachers can earn up to 10% of the price of most piano books by selling them to their students. Or…you can download and print Paloma Piano’s method books and materials put them into a binder and sell them to your students. Either way, if you have been giving books and materials to your students charging for these things will make your piano studio more profitable without raising lesson rates. Learn more about Paloma Piano
Read the post “The Best Piano Teacher in Town”
The Bottom Line
Just how much more profitable can you make your studio? I did a rough estimate and here is what I came up with:
Of course, lesson rates and studio size vary. I am basing this estimate on a studio of 30 students at a rate of $25 per 30-minute lesson during the 10 month school year.
Billing monthly, charging periodically and limit or eliminating make-up lessons.
If you usually have 10% of you students canceling or skipping lessons in a given month this will increase your studio’s profits by $300 per month or $3,000 per year.
A modest recital fee of just $10 per student will earn your studio an extra $600 per year.
A $50 per year activity fee will increase your studio’s income by $1,500 every year.
Offering semi-private lessons at $120 per month per student will increase your studio’s profits by a whopping $6,000 per year! (This will save parents $4,000 over the cost of a one hour lesson).
Taking advantage of summer and schools breaks can realistically increase your studio’s profitability by $3,000-$5,000.
If the average student spends about $50.00 yearly on books and supplemental music you can increase your studio’s income by $300 if you are using traditional piano method books and $1,500 using Paloma Piano’s piano printable method books and materials.
Teaching at home can really boost your income if you are not already doing this. I know this is impossible for some teachers because of where they live or other considerations. I also know that some teachers are studio owners who are running very successful studios from commercial spaces. However, if you are a traveling teacher or you work for a studio consider teaching from home if possible. The tax deduction alone could increase your piano studio’s profits by about $1,000 per year.
If you travel consider the time you spend getting from student to student and the gas and wear and tear on your car. Teaching from 3pm-7pm at home you would be finished by 7 pm and earn $200. If you travel leaving just 15 minutes to get from house to house you would earn just $125 minus the gas and wear and tear on your car. This would reduce your hourly rate from $50 to approximately $30 per hour.
The factors of time and 30-minute lesson rate being equal moving your studio to your home would increase your profitability by $1,200 per month or $12,000 per year!
To equal what you would earn teaching at home traveling you would have to charge $45 per 30-minute lesson.
If you work at a studio that takes half of the lesson rate teaching at your home could increase your piano studio’s profits by $15,000 per year!
As you can see all of these ideas can potentially add up to some serious money for your studio. I sincerely believe earning a good living as a piano teacher begins with educating students and parents about what it is that we do. If people can see how much work and expertise is involved in they will value piano education and be willing to pay for it. When it comes right down to it to quote a famous commercial “An educated consumer is your best costumer”.
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