Written by & under Finances, Marketing, Program Development.

At one of my recent teaching association meetings, we discussed how even studio owners and music teachers are feeling the affects of the bad economy.  As families tighten their belts a bit more and look for ways to lower their budget, some of their children’s extra curricular activities are seen as unnecessary luxuries.  Use some of the tips below to prevent your studio growth from becoming stagnant during lean times:

Educate your clients

Make sure your client base understands the importance of the service that you offer, and why it isn’t expendable.  I use quarterly newsletters to reiterate the importance of music lessons by linking studies and data that show the benefits of learning piano.  I also write occasional articles for our local parenting magazine about the benefits of music education.  Doing so helps my students and their families prioritize music lessons and hopefully look to cut other things out of their budget if they are faced with making difficult choices during financial hardships.

Offer lower cost alternatives

Your clients don’t necessarily want to give up their classes at your studio, but they probably do want to spend less for them.  I began teaching group piano classes a year ago.  Among the many reasons I decided to this, one was because I understood that private piano lessons in my area are becoming more expensive than families who are affected by the economic downturn can afford, but I still hope to provide those kids with opportunities to learn.  I offer group piano lessons at a lower cost (about 25% less) than my private lesson cost, but if I am able to teach three students in one 45 minute class, it actually ends up being a more lucrative business.  Win-win.

Provide savings opportunities

Are there ways you can make your clients feel like they are saving money or getting a deal?  Offer a 10% discount to students who pay their tuition at the beginning of each semester instead of in monthly installments.  Offer referral incentives (such as one free lesson per referral) and grow your studio while also providing a savings for a current student.  I distribute coupons at our local library for new students who enroll in classes to receive $25 off the first month’s tuition. Many teachers also give discounts for siblings enrolled at the same studio.

Market well

Be sure that you are being cautious and frugal with your own studio budget and marketing yourself successfully.  I placed an ad for $50 in the paper two years ago that turned out NO students, but my $250 ad in a local parenting magazine filled my studio in two weeks.  Since then, I never bother to buy an ad in the paper (even though it costs less) but I do make sure that I have enough in my budget to advertise in that magazine.  Know what works for you and budget accordingly.