The weather outside may not say Spring right now. But, the process of looking at my registration packet feels like a time of renewal. A chance to start fresh.
When I first started my business, I had read the stories of frustrated studio owners & teachers who struggled with finding that balance between work & personal life. Who felt that their clients pushed them around to get what they want. With the twins in preschool, I knew that I needed to be proactive in dealing with those issues beforehand. Instead of dealing with them as they came up. For me, that meant presenting a professional look in everything my clients & potential clients saw.
This isn’t to say I got it right the first year. Or, even the second. It took time & research to figure out what documents helped me run my studio the most efficiently.
The Essential Registration Documents
There are few documents that make registration, & your teacher life throughout the year, much easier. I would recommend including:
- Contact & student information form: An electronic copy avoids trying to decipher handwriting & ensures you have accurate information. Using a Google Form is easy to create AND easy for parents to fill out on their cell regardless of where they are.
- Contract/Policy form: Regardless of what you want to call it, get it signed & dated! This ensures clients know what to expect from you, what you expect from them, & gives you both an out if it just isn’t working out.
- Photo/video release form: Posting pictures & videos of what is happening in your studio helps create a sense of community. But depending on the country you live in, it may be illegal to take or post photos/videos of your students online without parental permission. Save yourself the legal trouble & get permission beforehand.
- Teacher/Parent/Student responsibilities: Outlining what each person is responsible for is a great idea. You can include this in your general policies. But having a separate form opened up the conversation about how my clients needed to be involved during the week.
With the exception of the contact & student information form, my clients have to sign each document in order to hold their spot for the fall. Even though my students will not be held legally liable, they also sign their section of the “student responsibilities” form. From my youngest to oldest student, they all know what I expect during lessons & practice each week … again, opening those conversations when practice falls through the cracks or they have a rough lesson.
But, do they work?
The short answer. Yes.
Our local community association & rec centre has a code of conduct. Respect yourself, others & property. I love how simple & all-encompassing this code of conduct is.
I’ve also learnt the hard way that I need to be a wee more specific in my policies so I can manage the expectations of my clients & ensure we have a healthy relationship for years to come.
The more intentional & specific my policies have gotten, the less I have had to deal with on the administrative side of my business. The problems tend to crop up when I don’t enforce my policies.
This week, I went through all my registration documents to check whether they were still meeting the needs of my business & my clients. While there were very few changes needed, it was an important step in making sure my documents present a professional image & clearly state expectations.
The biggest change for next year is adding in a 5th group lesson. Once I looked at the school district calendar for next year (I take breaks when my kids are off school) & took into account the times my clients enjoy having group lessons, it was clear that another group lesson week needed to be added to the contract. The upside is that I now have an outline of what my studio calendar looks like for next year (including a week of professional development) & will not be scrambling to determine those dates as I go along. Plus, my piano parents will get some time to themselves while the kids are at group lessons!
Would you like help to create your studio policies … & would like to avoid the hours upon hours of research I had to do when I first began?
“Policies That Work For Your Studio” is the course I wish I had had when I first began. By the end of this course, you will have policies that:
- Create balance for you
- Serve the needs of your studio
- Include win-win solutions for everyone
This course also has an appendix of HOW to word each section of your policies.
I hope that getting ready for registration will be a stress-free process for you. If you have a question about any of the documents listed or my registration process, write in the comments below.