Written by & under Finances.

The administrative aspect of owning a teaching studio can be tricky at times, especially when it comes to money. And though it wasn’t easy, this summer I made the decision to go forward with a payment policy change that I’ve been contemplating for a couple years now.

Up until now, I had been charging per lesson. If a family cancelled — regardless of the reason or amount of notice given — they didn’t pay. Now while most of my students attend regularly and give plenty of notice for absences, this lax “per lesson” payment policy was resulting in quite a bit of lost income for me. It took some brainstorming, but I came up with a solution that I think will benefit everyone.

It’s always nerve-racking to make a big change like this, so I spent quite a bit of time putting my new policy into writing. I wanted to be clear yet concise in my explanation, and judging from the positive feedback that I’ve received so far from my clients, it seems that I managed to do so.

I’d like to share the letter explaining my new payment policy for those of you who, like me, need to revamp your own policies. Perhaps I can save you a little bit of the time I took to write it!

I’m looking forward to a fun and productive year of lessons and music therapy! For the 2013-2014 school year, I have revamped some of my policies and payment procedures, so please read the following carefully and feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.

Rates and Payments

I will not be raising my rates or charging a yearly materials & registration fee this year. However, I will be moving away from weekly “per lesson/session” payments to monthly tuition (school year only; summer lessons/sessions will be charged individually). Invoices will be issued at the start of each month, and payment for that month will be due by the 15th. If a student is unable to attend a lesson/session within that month, credit toward a make-up or
summer lesson/session will be given. If I need to cancel for any reason, you will either not be charged or receive a refund (if payment has already been made for an unplanned cancellation).

Student Cancellations

Your efforts to notify me of a cancellation at least 24 hours in advance are greatly appreciated. The best way to do so is via email. Of course, I understand that sudden illnesses and last-minute conflicts cannot be avoided; in those cases, please contact me as soon as possible via phone or text. All of the above are considered excused absences. If a lesson is missed with no notice whatsoever, it is considered an unexcused absence (in which case, credit toward a make-up lesson or summer lesson will not be given, as I am not able to fill those time slots). I am willing to work with you on an individual basis in the case of extended absences due to extracurricular or family obligations. Thank you in advance for your understanding that a monthly tuition policy greatly reduces the amount of bookkeeping, promotes better attendance, and therefore, a more steady and predictable weekly schedule.

I made sure to send this letter to my students’ families several weeks prior to the start of the fall session next week, at which point I will be implementing my new system. So far, I haven’t had any complaints regarding the change; on the contrary, many parents have emailed to say that they’re happy I’m improving my business in this way. Lucky me!

I wish I hadn’t waited this long to implement this payment policy that will provide a lot more financial stability from month to month. Are your policies in need of a makeover as well, or do you have a great system you’d be willing to share?