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Raising fees - when/how to do it (Read 3616 times)

Offline green

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Raising fees - when/how to do it
« on: June 10, 2013, 10:40:48 PM »
End of the year here, all my students are at internationals schools, most of whom will be away for July-Aug, starting back again late August-Sept.

I just calculated my expenses from Aug-Nov - which are about 4 full months. Dec is usually a half month. After expenses I foresee being left with about 1300.US savings.

I feel that I need about 2-3 more students to counter expenses, or I could raise fees by about 8.US dollars which would be equivalent to an additional 1.5 hours/week which would mean I could probably manage with just 1 more student.

Would after the summer be a good time to announce a raise in fees, I can foresee that while the majority of my student's parents are loyal and would probably understand, I am actually more concerned coming across as a bit of a beggar - while not a lot of money, it is enough that it could put some parents off, maybe create an uneasy feeling in the relationship, as if they can not trust me perhaps. My current fees are about 32.Us/h.

I'm leaning towards just keeping things as they are, and trying to take on some new students, but perhaps that is the other strategy, to take on new students at the new rate over July-Aug, then build up the confidence to announce a fee raise to returning students aware that it may rock the boat with some.

Any suggestions?

Offline melba

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #1 on: June 11, 2013, 12:32:19 AM »
Why not increase your fees, perhaps at the start of the next term, AND try to attract some new students at the same time.   If some students do decide to discontinue you will have new students to replace them.  However, if you increase your fees and all your students continue on, and you have some extra students as well = greater cashflow!!
And please don't think of yourself as a 'bit of a beggar'.....you are a professional who should be paid accordingly.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #2 on: June 11, 2013, 02:29:21 AM »
I could raise fees by about 8.US dollars

My current fees are about 32.Us/h.

A 25% hike may give some students pause - rather steeper than just a cost of living type increase. You may wind up losing more than you make.
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Offline asiantraveller101

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #3 on: June 11, 2013, 03:06:03 AM »
A 25% hike may give some students pause - rather steeper than just a cost of living type increase. You may wind up losing more than you make.
Yes, it is perhaps too steep. I think you should reconsider the amount. You have to think longer term, but slower rate of increase.

Offline lukediv

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #4 on: June 11, 2013, 03:16:12 AM »
I read on the web somewhere (and it made a lot of sense) that there are 3 times to raise fees.

1) if your qualifications have been updated/increased
2) if your fees are significantly lower than others in the same areas
3) if you haven't raised them in 3 years

Just be upfront and speak to the parents about it, definitely don't sneak it into an invoice or something like that. I, also, hate confrontation, even though its not really confrontation at all I just feel awkward bringing that stuff up.

I would just tell the students when you get numbers for who is coming back for another term. Everybody will understand.


Offline 1piano4joe

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #5 on: June 11, 2013, 03:33:51 AM »
Hi green,

When/how to do it is totally at your discretion.

I have the impression that you have never done this before. I will share my 30+ years experience with you. I have tried the following:

1. In January at the start of a new calendar year.
2. In September at the start of a new school year.
3. Whenever I felt like it.

I found "when" didn't make much of a difference. The results were the same. Yes, some were definitely put off. I once increased my price only $5.00 U.S. from $40 to $45 which is slightly more than 10% and yes I lost some students. Also, parents of prospective new students are often "shopping around for price" and many just go with the cheapest while there are a few who go for the most expensive.

You didn't ask about, "When not to raise fees" or "determining what to charge". I personally have called 10 other piano teachers about pricing to determine what the market will bear. I am then equipped with the low, the high and the average cost of lessons where I teach. I then take into consideration if business is slow or if I have no more available time.

How much time do you have? Is this your only income? How much do you need to make? Are you living with your parents or is your spouse the primary breadwinner? These all factor into this.

40 hours at $10 is $400 a week, right? 20 hours at $20 is the same $400 a week but you work 1/2 the number of hours. 10 hours at $40 is again $400. So ultimately, you decide what your time is worth to you. Is your phone constantly ringing with "new students" from your marketing efforts?

Lastly, I charged according to my years of experience and credentials. If your relatively inexperienced and just starting out you should charge less. If you have 25 years teaching experience, a Ph.D. and two grand pianos in your studio and teach very advanced students then you should be charging at the higher end of the price range. A Merecedes Benz is going to cost more than a Volkswagen just as a Bosendorfer or Steinway will cost a lot more than "lesser quality pianos". So Why should I be any different?

I don't like to raise prices often because there is always "fall out" but when gasoline and advertising goes up there must be an increase in fees.  I try to wait 3 or 4 years between price increases even if this means I lose money as a result.

I have tried introductory offers such as first lesson free or 1/2 price and charged different amounts depending on level and how far I had to travel. I have raised prices on a few disagreeable people over the years hoping they would leave on their own. On the rare occasion when I have to drop someone for whatever reason I apologize and say, "I'm sorry but I have too many commitments right now and won't be able to continue as your teacher". I could easily recommend another piano teacher to them but I don't out of respect for the other teacher. I have this personal quirk that I wish all teachers would adopt. If you promise to not recommend me to your problem parents or students then I will not pass on my headaches to you. I don't need this and neither do you.

Hope I have been helpful, Joe.




Offline keyofc

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #6 on: June 11, 2013, 08:00:40 AM »
In my neighborhood -they generally raise it 2.00 a year.

Offline pytheamateur

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #7 on: June 14, 2013, 11:14:01 AM »
When/how to do it is totally at your discretion.


If you have 25 years teaching experience, a Ph.D. and two grand pianos in your studio and teach very advanced students then you should be charging at the higher end of the price range. A Merecedes Benz is going to cost more than a Volkswagen just as a Bosendorfer or Steinway will cost a lot more than "lesser quality pianos". So Why should I be any different?


So if the teacher is unfortunate enough to teach on an appalling instrument, then this lowers the fee he can reasonably charge? I think this is common sense, but am interested in your views.
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Offline keyofc

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #8 on: June 18, 2013, 10:52:22 PM »
Having 2 Steinways would be wonderful.  I'd be happy to have one Steinway -
but it wouldn't make me a better teacher.  Or do you think it would?

But it has the prestige that would cause people to pay more. 

Offline green

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #9 on: June 21, 2013, 11:00:13 PM »
Well im not the local community piano teacher, i live in a very big city in Asia and cater to expat kids, the parents of whom are generally on some fairly substantial salaries here. So I'm a home tutor, not a studio, and I know an extra 8 bucks would be nothing to them. But even so, I think it comes down to how they value the service, its not so easy to find a good teacher, im not saving a whole lot from what I am making here but from my perspective that extra 8 dollars would make a huge difference, where as it probably amounts to very little for them. 

Offline dinulip

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #10 on: June 30, 2013, 05:30:52 PM »
I think the best time to raise fees are in September.  My present rates are $20/30 minutes, $26/45 minutes, and $32/60 minutes, and I will raise each one by $2 in September.  I trust that the vast majority of my students' parents will readily accept to pay an extra $8 per month to keep the same dedicated  service they are used to.  I will also raise my 'registration fee' by $10/year (from $15 to $25).  I don't anticipate having problems with that either.

However, I would feel quite nervous about raising my hourly fee from $32 to $40.  An extra $32 per month is a big chunk!  If you were my teacher or my child's teacher, I would certainly ask some questions...

Offline green

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 11:43:27 PM »
Actually the only time I raised fees, was asking parents to pay an extra 4 dollars to cover travel expenses. Some houses I went to I taught two kids, an hour each, so the extra charge was per trip to each house, not per hour. I did work out how much I spent in travel/year and it came to about 1 months salary as a recall. So that extra charge just covered it I believe and seemed reasonable to parents.

I have one new student who pays at the new rate, 40/hour, same job, same work, and as I mentioned none of the parents know one another, big city and I am a home tutor. But I hope to take on some new students at the new rate, then in the new year I will advertise at 50/hour. That is the ideal, 2-3 hours/day, 5 days/week, and thats all the 'work' I would need to do.

I think I will design a new website, I am using wordpress and I don't think it is slick and professional enough.

Offline jdledell

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #12 on: July 31, 2013, 08:58:43 PM »
I am curious where teachers are located. Some of the fees quoted here seem stunningly low. We are in New Jersey and have been teaching for 3 decades and have 145 students between my wife and myself. We teach in our home and charge $75/hour which we increase $1.00/hour every September. We learned long ago that small annual increases work far better for student retention than bigger increases every few years.

Offline okanaganmusician

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #13 on: August 01, 2013, 12:56:27 AM »
Have students write post-dated checks for the 1st of each month for 10 months (personally teach September-June to follow the school year, you might do it differently) so they are only writing and submitting checks to you once a year technically.

This gives them security in that the rate is locked in, and when the next year starts hand them a new registration form with the new price on it.  Remember, there is inflation every year so it isn't unreasonable to hike the price 5% unless your rates are already comparably high given your qualifications.
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Offline quantum

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #14 on: August 03, 2013, 05:09:06 AM »
The following may be helpful.  Scroll down to the section labeled "Fees" of which there are a number of articles to read. 
http://www.marthabeth.com/business.html

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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #15 on: August 09, 2013, 01:35:17 AM »
I increased my fees by over 20% when I was younger and didn't lose any students at all. You are charging a cheap rate for 1 hour, increasing it to 40 is not a crazy amount. Tell your students at least 1 term in advanced that you will be increasing the fees.
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Offline green

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #16 on: August 16, 2013, 11:00:30 PM »
Well I'm glad to hear its cheap, I've just started advertising at 50dollars/h, which for SE asia expats seems to be about the limit. Definitely upper rage fees for this area, I would say a really top concert pianist is at about 60USD/h, maybe more but there are not that many in fact. Most of my students are in the 7 year old range, not usually the best students, and I can see parents don't want to pay so much for that. My previous rate I did advertise at 40/h and have 4.5 hours at that, all other students are at an old rate of 32/h, im pretty much full now so am advertising at 50/h. I'm finding it hard to tell older students about a fee increase because I think they are happy with the rate, and I don't want to ruffle any feathers right yet. If I do get a few more students at 50/hour I will think again how to best do this.

Two students, sisters, 1.5 hours/week, of two years lessons, the mother just came up to me after the lesson this week and said they are going to stop at the end of the month because they are not practicing. Two lessons left in the month. Actually this has been a problem for a long time, the older sister doesn't want to practice, and I have tried everything under the sun to make this work. Anyways, this was a bit unexpected, and I am finding myself oscillating between being angry about just being 'dumped' like this, not included in the decision, or asked what I think, or involved in some final process where by we give it one more month, etc, no, just informed that that's it, "I hope that's ok with you," and do I have any choice here? No. So do I go and just sit for two more lessons and witness the triumph of ego of these students getting there own way, or make my own decision and just not bother showing up? While that of course doesn't feel right, I could just reimburse them for the remaining two lessons, I did inform them last year that it's 1 month's notice, but not something I can enforce in this part of the world.

Offline quantum

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #17 on: August 17, 2013, 07:50:25 PM »
In all honesty, I don't think a piano teacher should think he/she has an entitlement to a student's money.  A student is well within their right to stop lessons or change teachers whenever they see fit, as long as they carry out the business with decorum and in a professional manner.  If a student decides to stop lessons, so be it, the teacher needs to move on. 

Regarding your particular situation, whatever you do act like a professional.  If you decide to teach those two lessons, carry yourself in the same manner as if these students were to continue with you as your teacher.  Don't get personal with the student's or their parents, and don't take out any frustrations on the students.
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Offline green

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #18 on: August 18, 2013, 07:06:08 PM »
Good advice! Thanks for that. I certainly feel as though I could use some training in being more professional, inevitably I find that taking a student into your conscious for a couple of years, or more, and feeling responsible with a sense of obligation and commitment for their development, that it does become personal in a way when they just suddenly decide to pull the plug on the whole thing. But, at the same time I must admit there is a feeling of relief, and just today I had another student contact me and is going to start this week.

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: Raising fees - when/how to do it
«Reply #19 on: September 08, 2013, 11:53:20 AM »
Just as a point of interest...possibly. In Australia, well Western Aus at least, most schools, music centres, and the like are about $60AUD per hour. The Western Australian Music Teachers Association stated that in 2013 the recommended private studio rate is $70 per hour. My teacher who is the head of keyboard studies at a university charges $100 per hour and another teacher I know who is primarily a performer, charges $120 per hour!! He only takes very high level students who compete in state, national and international comps. I charge $60 per hour privately; I get paid $39/hour in a music centre (but worth while, because of consistency and no need to find students) and the students are paying $60; and $52/hour in a college (private highschool). When I finish my Honours degree this year, my rate will go up and I will also request a pay rise in the public ones.
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