Last month, we focused on retaining students & clients. This month is all about taking that goodwill & transferring it into renewed contracts for the fall (or summer depending on your studio).
But, before our clients can flock back to our studios … we need to be ready ourselves.
There are a few things I think every teacher should have included in their registration process. They ensure we look professional, have clear guidelines for our clients, & set up our studios to run smoothly … so we can focus most of our attention on the fun part, teaching!
- Registration form
- Photo/Video release form
- Teaching & office schedule
- Interview sheets & new client process
- Welcome packet for new clients
There are many ways teachers & studio owners can have students re-register, most of which I have tried at some point or another.
When I began, I sent out an email on the first day of registration asking for replies. Some replied, but most waited until the lesson to tell me. It wasn’t a bad system, but I had to make a note to myself & send the documentation when I got home rather than just ending my teaching day.
These days, I send a link to a Google Form that clients can fill out regardless of where & when they chose to complete the form. This had had multiple advantages:
- I can copy/paste directly from the responses to ensure my information is accurate
- Clients have no excuse for not filling out the form … in fact, these are my responses to parents when they have not filled it out.
- “You haven’t had a chance? Not a problem. Here is the link again. Perhaps you could fill it out while your child has their lesson. I really look forward to teaching your child again next year. Thanks!”
- “I understand that hockey/soccer/dance season is very busy. Here is the link again. There are so many times we have had to wait before or after an event for our boys. Perhaps during a break in the game/performance, you can quickly fill out the form on your cell phone. I really look forward to teaching your child again next year. Thanks!”
Try to create a form that is quick & easy to fill out, but also fits with families’ busy lives. By removing as many obstacles in their way as possible, you make it easy for them to register.
Contract & Photo/Video Release Form
Some teachers prefer to have multiple documents with a short, 1-page contract. I’ve chosen to have (almost) everything in the same legal document. To be honest, it really comes down to personal preference & doesn’t matter which option you choose.
If you would like help creating your policies, read Policies That Work For Your Studio.
If you would like help creating a framework for how to get more involved parents, Behind Every Successful Piano Student … will give you ideas on how to articulate to parents how they can support their child(ren). This is something I always include throughout the year.
Keep in mind that your country may have laws against taking or posting pictures/videos of students, especially those that are minors. From a legal standpoint, this form is a must. For a photo-video release form template, I am leaving that to the many legal experts online. A search for “photo & video release form template” will give you many options to choose from. You will notice, as I did, that often the wording is near identical since it needs to cover certain legal terminology. It should include the option to allow or decline permission to take & post pictures/videos.
Whether you choose a paper schedule, emailed document or online version, as long as your clients have a way to check the studio calendar it’s good.
In my studio, I have embedded a Google Calendar on my site which allows clients to check the important dates in any month. (Here is a great walkthrough on how to do that.) I also put up to 3 months of important dates on each month’s newsletter as a reminder for clients. Lastly, I list important dates for the week on student practice pages.
While I used to get emails all the time regarding studio dates, each year those emails have decreased as my clients have used the other options I have provided more & more.
In my studio, current clients get first dibs on the schedule. Not only does it reward them for re-enrolling, but it allows me to keep a fairly consistent schedule year to year.
When I first began, I took students where I could get them which meant I drove all over our city & in some cases even outside the city. And, from what I’ve heard over the years, the majority of teachers do the same as we grow our studios. But as we gain experience, we have the opportunity to choose whom we work with, as well as the parameters of where & when we are willing to teach.
Before letting clients just sign up for lessons, sit down & determine the specific days & hours you want to teach. Keep in mind that on top of your teaching hours you also need to budget time for everything else: administrative tasks, social media, researching new repertoire & activities, practicing piano (hopefully), professional development, etc.
While I have had prospective (& very occasionally current clients) try to get lessons outside of my set days/times, I know from experience that I just can’t give my best to those students … which makes it much easier to say no.
“I understand that you prefer a different day/time. However, based on my experience I know exactly how much time I need to budget for each student to give them the best programming & lesson experience possible. My schedule is set so that your family gets 100% of me when I am at your home teaching. Outside of that schedule, you will not get the true value for your tuition & that is not acceptable to me.”
I have yet to meet an individual who has found a real argument against that statement, beyond “Are you sure?” … to which I answer “Yes. I am sure.” Most clients will respect that you want them to have the best of you & want them to get value out of piano lessons. And if they really don’t want to work with your schedule, in my experience, it tends to be a rough year all around.
If you want ideas on how to batch your time so you can create the ideal schedule for your studio, check out Batching Your Way To An Easier Life.
Registering new clients
When spots open up in our schedule, having an interview process & welcome packet creates a professional start to these new client relationships.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be letting you know how I vet new clients so I can be sure they will be a great fit for my studio, as well as giving you a peek at the welcome packets they will be getting this year!
Getting ready for a new teaching year
I’ll admit I get excited as I prepare for registration as it is a time to reflect on what has worked well this year … & what creative solutions I can come up with to solve pain points for the next year!
What are your favourite parts of registration? Or, what are the parts that you would like help with?
I would love to read your comments below!
Have a great weekend!