Welcome to my new blog! I have decided to chronicle some of my experiences in private lesson teaching in the DFW area. I spent 15 years teaching within schools throughout the area. I have made multiple changes to my instruction along with my business practices. So, I'm notating some of those changes in the hope that it will help someone make decisions about their studio.
The first blog will address billing. I started using the traditional system of monthly billing. Most teachers will use this system because their clients are more accustomed to it. For that reason, I adopted it. There are many advantages to this type of billing. First, the parents are used to it and it aligns with their budgets. Second, the billing happens in a predictable manner. Payments are due at the beginning of the month (or whenever you agree upon). However, this system also has its downsides. It is centered around the customers preferences and not the instructors. If you are using a pencil and paper method of accounting, it can require a lot of extra work to stay on top of changes to the schedule. Schedule changes provide the most difficult part of this accounting method. As students miss lessons (for whatever reason), lesson credits will become apparent which requires more work the follow billing cycle.
After using this system for the first couple of years of teaching, I adopted a difference manner that I learned from a colleague. After fully changing to this system, I used it for more than 10 years. In this method, I would bill each student for 4 lessons only (instead of monthly). Each student pays at the beginning of the 4 lesson block. Once we have completed the block, I remind the student and send an invoice to their parents for the next 4 lesson block. This method proved very efficient especially while using pencil and paper accounting. My work outside of lessons was very minimal. This efficiency proved to be the biggest asset of this system. I no longer had to worry about crediting lessons for absences. It is a very simple billing system but some times the parents struggled with the irregularity of billing which was a draw back. Parents would get confused as to when to pay and I always had students pay out of sequence leading to more work for me. However these negative were surmountable.
In the last period of teaching, I switched to online organizational tool for my studio. I was always reluctant to utilize one of these tool because I knew it would mean a lot of changes to how I organized my studio and I wasn't sure I would be able to continue conducting business as I had been. After a few consultation with a friend already using the tool, I signed up for the free trial period and started using My Music Staff. I quickly found the benefits of this type of tool. With this site, I was able to create invoices in a snap and email them to parent quickly. It adjusts for absence and issues invoices the following month that reflect the change in schedule. It gives the teacher a central means of communication with the students and parents allowing the students and parents to access the studio website through their own portal. Additionally, I took advantage of the practice log capabilities to help my students organize their time.
There are many different ways to organize the business aspects of one's studio. These are a few that worked for me for the time I used them. My only regret was not finding My Music Staff sooner.