Perhaps you have been really lucky & not dealt with any “problem” clients. Everyone pays for lessons on time, arrive/pickup happen on time & the issues other teachers deal with have not happened to you. So, why do you need studio policies?
Policies: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship
Simply put, studio policies are the way you, as a business owner, communicate what you expect from your clients … & what they can expect from you.
Have you ever had a relationship where you were left wondering what the other person wanted from you?
It’s frustrating, right?
It is especially frustrating when you ask a question to clarify things & the other person acts as if it was abundantly clear all along. But, it wasn’t. At least to you.
Our clients need the same clarity. They need studio policies that are upfront about:
- What you are expecting from them … if it’s too much, they have the option to back out before lessons begin.
- What to do when something will effect the regular lesson schedule
- Reasonable expectations from you
Working too many hours
Years ago, my studio make-up policy stated that piano lessons cancelled more than 24 hours in advance would be scheduled at a time that worked for both the client & myself.
And, then we had the winter of all winters.
The twins were in kindergarten so I had limited time to get to my morning students before I needed to be back. There were times I was on the road for close to an hour & nowhere near where I needed to be. Those clients got calls letting them know I had no choice but to turn around & go back home.
One time I got stuck at a client’s home. The snow buried my SUV tires deep enough my client & I had to dig them out. Then she had to grab kitchen salt (the only thing she had to help me) to throw on the tires to melt the ice. Then she fed me a peanut butter sandwich while we waited for the ice to melt. I had to call a friend to pick up the kidlets, then call the school to let them know the change in plan. I arrived home over 3 hours later than I normally would have.
By the time we headed into winter break, I had yet to see any of my morning students that month.
A heavy workload
I spent all of January through to mid March that year doing make-up lessons … in my client’s homes.
It meant travel teaching 6 days a week & spending the 7th day trying to plan for the upcoming week.
My part-time teaching hours morphed into something I had not signed up for.
I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be. I wasn’t the wife I wanted to be. And frankly, I wasn’t the teacher I could be either.
When it finally died down … spring started.
That meant students needing to reschedule because of outdoor sport games & practices, dance rehearsals & more.
And because the policy stated I needed 24 hours notice, guess what I was doing again?
That’s right. Part of April through to the end of June was back to 6-day teaching weeks with the 7th day planning.
A different make-up lesson clause was needed in my studio policies for the next year.
Need studio policies on when a student is sick? Absolutely!
Most parents in the history of my studio have been pretty good about letting me know when I needed to stay away because their child was sick.
But, there will always be a parent who pushes the boundaries of what is considered acceptable.
A “retch-ed” situation
One lesson years ago I arrived for piano lessons & immediately realized something was wrong. My students were pale, shaky & looking very sick.
The mom assured me they were fine & we should go ahead with lesson.
No. It was not fine.
My students were so sick they could barely play piano. So, I thought we could play a game instead.
And, it went fine.
Until one of my students vomited all over the game. There was not a single part of the game that was not covered.
Clearly things were not fine by any reasonable definition.
In questioning the mom further (while she wiped off the games & I put them back in a ziploc bag), it turns out that both the kids had been sick all night.
“But the last time they threw up was about an hour before lesson so I figured they were fine.”
An hour. Really?
Once I got home, I washed off the game & all the cards which were thankfully laminated. I wiped them liberally with a disinfecting wipe. After it dried, I went to put the game away … & realized I would never feel comfortable using that game again with another student. So, it went in the garbage.
Did I need studio policies that were clearer? Yes.
A “Pink” situation
While I really do love Pink, the singer, I do not love pink eye.
This was not something I had every thought would need to be in my studio policies.
And, yet sure enough one lesson I arrived only to find out one of my students had been sent home from school with pink eye that day.
Even though there had been plenty time to let me know we needed to move to a live video lesson, no one let me know.
Needless to say, I left right away & proceeded to disinfect everything that had come into contact with anything in the house. While sitting in my vehicle in their driveway.
Then, I had to call my other clients for the evening to see how they wished to proceed. Did I come to their home after I disinfected everything or we move to a FaceTime lesson?
The next year my policies talked about how we all work to keep the studio healthy. After which I gave specific examples of when to move to a FaceTime lesson.
You Need Studio Policies
Every studio needs studio policies that are clear & comprehensive.
It doesn’t matter if you have 5 students or 60.
Or whether you teach in your home, rented space, or commercial building.
Studio policies save you time & money. They also keep you & your clients healthy.
Do you have your studio policies ready for upcoming registration?