You can pick out the family within a few minutes of conversation — the kind who tells you they’re looking to “give piano/violin/dance/etc. a try”. They don’t give the impression of being overly-committed, and within a few months — when repertoire starts to become more challenging or when the exciting “newness” wears off, the student lose interests and asks to quit, which his parents are all to ready to let him do. You cringe when this happens, thinking of the spot he has taken up while students on your wait list have likely found other teachers in the meantime.
While these types of families may present other challenges along the way, there are strategies you can implement at your studio and within your policy to help prevent these early departures — or keep these types of families from enrolling at your studio in the first place by attracting more committed students.
- Charge a non-refundable enrollment fee. Make it small enough that it won’t scare potential families away, but large enough that families don’t necessarily want to walk away from lessons after just a few weeks.
- Offer discounts for students who pre-pay the semester’s worth of tuition — which is, of course, nonrefundable. If a family has forked over a large chunk of change for four months of lessons, they are more likely to see those lessons through.
- Provide practice incentives that will take time to achieve. This year, I started a 150 Days of Practice challenge. Students who practice for 150 days over the course of our 31 weeks of lessons will receive a trophy at the end-of-the-year-recital. One mom actually told me that her son was on the fence with continuing lessons, but now he really wants that trophy!
- Give opportunities for early successes. Book a venue for a fall performance so that students will be instantly committed and motivated.
- Provide accountability. Assign your student a duet with another student at your studio. He won’t want to let down his partner by failing to see his part through.
What about you? What strategies have you successfully implemented at your studio to help ensure long-term commitment from your clients?