A popular topic music teaching feeds is making our studio policies work. While I don’t think ‘one size fits all’, I would argue that the majority of teachers want to be seen for the professionals that they are. How individual teachers & studios go about this is different which is what makes our studios unique.
Making Your Studio Policies Work
I DO think that there are ways studio owners can ensure their studio policies work for them AND their clients. And, it breaks down into two, not so small, steps. But, I promise it will be well worth it!
Set clear expectations
First step: A clearly worded contract that clients are expected to sign each year. Whether you chose to include everything in your contract or have separate policy pages that clients sign is a personal choice.
For myself, I decided having one longer contract with everything included was easier to keep track of & clients to reference. Another thing that I do each year, is review policies to see if they continue to provide a win-win situation for my clients & myself. But, more on that later.
The sections that I include in my contract are:
- Calendar & Scheduling
- Tuition & Other Fees
- Payment of Fees
- Lessons & Weekly Practice Expectations
- Missed Lessons
- Performance Opportunities
- Termination of Contract
Truth be told, I do my best to not add new things to my contract during the school year. As a parent myself, I find it hugely frustrating when companies do this. It’s much easier on everyone to make a decision when it’s time for a new contract. But, sometimes an amendment is needed mid-year. A quick clause ensures my clients know how they will be informed.
Following through consistently
This is SO much easier to say than do. Especially when we create personal relationships with our students. However, part of any healthy relationship is setting clear expectations & boundaries.
A big part of creating studio policies that you can follow through on is taking the time to ask yourself a few questions before, during, & after the process. These questions include everything from your priorities, laws/regulations that apply to your business, & finding win-win solutions for those pains that are unique to your studio.
While this process will take time at the beginning, it does create studio policies that best reflect YOU as a person, the image you want your studio to present, & fit the resources you have available to enforce those policies. By creating a win-win solution for your clients, it is much easier to recognize the potential clients that just won’t be a good fit for your studio. And, as time goes on it becomes a quicker process each year to review the studio policies already in place.
What about exceptions?
If you choose to make an exception, be sure to get all the details first. Don’t assume someone needs an exception.
This is something that I have learnt the hard way over the years & continue to need the occasional reminder. One year, in deference to a long-standing relationship with a family, I assumed (wrongly) that a client needed an exception to a policy. It turns out that it wasn’t the case at all. We mended the issue, but my feelings of frustration & hurt were much slower in going away. This wasn’t fair to myself, my student or the client in question. Better to have asked straight away if something was going on, rather than let things continue as they were.
Having clearly worded & well-thought out policies makes it much easier to enforce those policies with clients. It allows us to have positive, healthy relationships with each our clients in which each person knows what is expected of them & what to do if their needs are not being met.
Looking for a template?
Perhaps you are wanting to overhaul your studio policies or contract to better reflect the direction you want your studio to move. If so, I have made a step-by-step guide to walk you through each section of your contract & policies.
Please keep in mind that I am NOT a lawyer & this guide is meant to help you create studio policies that work for you. Ensuring that policies are compliant with local/national laws & regulations is the other part of the process. Unfortunately, I can’t help you out with that last part. But, I can help you get a good start on the whole process!
What do you include in your policies?
What are the studio policies changes that have had either the biggest impact or the most positive impact to your studio & life? Please share those policies below, as well as what prompted those policies in the first place.
[NOTE: This is a rewrite of an article from Feb. 3, 2017. It has all the great ideas from before, plus more!]