This is a time of year when many families have more than ever on their plates. Not only are all the regular extra-curricular events going on, but there are school concerts, presents to purchase, various parties to attend, & the list goes on. I remember looking at our family calendar in early November & thinking, “Wow! Every single weekend is booked up already.” In talking with my clients, we realized that almost all of us where in the same position. One client put it perfectly. “We have everything scheduled & balanced just right. Then, December comes along & all the changes wreak havoc on the delicate balance we had going.” December is the month we seem to sprint to vacation.
With all of these additional student & family commitments that come up during December, is it any wonder that parents ask for makeup lessons? Depending on what you have written in your policies, they may have a few options available. But, how do you handle these requests without overloading your own schedule?
Make-Up Lessons Can Be Easy To Do
Every studio situation is different & there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this dilemma. Below are 3 options you could offer that do not take up any extra time out of your schedule.
Parents or students text me videos of what has been worked on during the week (at least 24 hours before their regular lesson). I review the videos & give feedback, plus assign the next steps in a video lesson format. The video is uploaded to a private YouTube link. I email the practice page & video lesson link to the parent or student for them to watch on their own time.
My personal favourite for 3 reasons!
- The onus is placed on the student & parent to send me short videos BEFORE lesson. They are more likely to watch the video lesson if they had to do something to get the lesson.
- Requires only the time I would have spent teaching without any additional time taken out of my schedule.
- No videos from student or parent before the regularly scheduled lesson means that I do not need to make a video lesson. They have, according to my written policies, forfeited the lesson.
Some teachers use this option at regular points throughout the year. Wendy Stevens uses it at the end of each term so parents know when the group lesson weeks are & can mark them in their calendars. This year, I checked in with my clients to see what they preferred. The majority of the families liked the idea of having group lesson instead of having regularly scheduled lessons for the last week before Christmas so that’s the option we are going for! My studio does 90 minute group lessons which allow us to do several activities & even have snack. I have a feeling more than a few parents will be doing a little bit of Christmas shopping during that time.
This could be an option if you have an in-home studio & your clients are willing to share their information with each other. The idea is that a client can switch lesson times with someone else instead of forfeiting the lesson. As a travel teacher, I have never had cause to use this option. However, I could see having a deadline (ie. 24 hours before regularly scheduled lesson) would make your teacher planning easier.
Communicating Your Policy
At this time of year, I have learnt to expect lesson cancellations from my clients. A look at our own family calendar reminds me to show grace at this time of year. And my clients know that depending on the night my kids’ have their Christmas concert, they may be asked if we could do a FaceTime lesson on another night so I can attend.
So, how do we show grace to our clients as they juggle their busy schedule without making exceptions in our policy?
- Don’t get upset about cancellations. I have a student who is acting in “A Christmas Carol”. She needed to cancel every single lesson this month because of her work schedule. If she sends me videos on her off-day, she gets a video lesson. If she doesn’t because she had no time to practice, then it’s one less thing on my plate. We text each week to check-in & we both know that in January we will get back to the normal routine.
- Calmly & politely let your client know their makeup lesson options if they want to reschedule a lesson. When you have thought about creating a win-win situation for your clients in your policies, most clients will either choose one of the options or graciously choose to forfeit the lesson. (If you have a client who insists on their own option, that is a completely different issue. Hold fast to your well-throughout policy!)
- Remember this too shall pass. There are a few times of the year that are busy & stressful on families. Going back to school, right before a big vacation (like Christmas), & the month before school ends. We have a few weeks this month to play music with our students, play games with them &, perhaps even listen to them share what they hope they are getting from Santa. Let’s enjoy this time with them so we can go into the holidays with a smile &, dare we hope, a little energy to spare!
Your December Plan
What will you be doing in your studio this month? Do you have any studio challenges or projects that are finishing up?
And, how will you be handling the lesson cancellations? Perhaps you have been proactive in planning a group lesson week, or have a great swap list going that takes care of those request for you, or maybe you are having fun making video lessons from the comfort of your home.
Let us know in the comments below.
Have a great weekend!