Are My Prices Right? (All Teachers)

  • Are My Prices Right? (All Teachers)

  • Ben Church

    Member
    May 2, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I know there’s another topic on how to broach putting prices up, but this one’s more about what to put them up to. I also know it’s often considered bad form for teachers or musicians to talk about what they do as just bare figures, but I’m taking the love of music and the satisfaction from teaching as a given!

    I recently checked out a local competitor (singing only) who’s been advertising on Google Ads for quite a while now and she charges £35/half hour or £46/45 mins as well as having a second tier teacher who charges £25/half hour and £36/45 mins. With block booking options their cheapest equivalent hourly rate for the second tier teacher is £45/hour, almost double my £15/half hour and £25/hour. (So yes, I realise that answers my question seemingly – my prices are too low!)

    This seems expensive to me, but maybe they’re appealing to a market that automatically places value on things with a higher price…? Also that higher price might mean they’re working less and making more if she’s actually getting customers.

    Along these lines I actually had a parent who I couldn’t fit in offer £68/hour to travel to them to teach her seven year old daughter (that one was direct, sorry Matthew! 😉 ) in one of the more upmarket areas of town so there are those out there who will pay.

    On the other hand, my current fee seems to be about average for guitar lessons!

    So here are my questions if you care to answer any or all of them:

    • How much do you charge?
    • Have you tested different pricing? (premium pricing vs average)
    • If not, what makes you think that what you charge hits the sweet spot between clients gained and money made?
    • Should I put my prices up or my time down and offer just 45 minute sessions? Or both?
    • Should I have different prices for guitar and singing lessons?

    All thoughts appreciated!

    Ben

  • Kat Hunter

    Member
    May 3, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Hey Ben,

    Not to worry, I don’t think it’s bad form at all to talk about money. I think within a friendly community like this one, transparency is only a good thing!

    As much as this is unhelpful, I think you have to really think through how much you feel what you’re offering is worth. For quite some time I was charging what you are; 25 an hour. But I knew I was underselling myself, AND I was burning out because I was fully booked, and was taking on so many students that I wasn’t able to pay the attention to each of them that I wanted. In that case I really should have raised my prices much earlier, and set a limit on how many people I wanted to see each week. So… here are some questions to ask yourself:

    Keeping in mind that running a business like this involves time spent on other things (accounting, marketing, scheduling lessons, etc. etc.), how much time per week do I want to spend 1-1 with students? How many different faces do I think I could see in one week and still offer maximum value to each and every student? if you taught this maximum number of hours per week at the chosen price (and allowing for some cancellations and losses), what would your monthly income look like?

    Also… a business coach I read called Jenny Shih says “if you double your rates, you have to be able to feel like you’re also doubling your value”. She says that although it’s always a good idea to aim high, often when businesses aim too high without actually feeling ready to take that on, they end up self-sabotaging by feeling embarrassed about their prices and no longer being as enthusiastic to tell people about their business.

    So yes, DO raise your prices for sure. But you might choose to only do it in increments and test it for a while at each price. Make sure you do whatever work is required to feel really comfortable and proud of whatever price you’re asking, and you’ll be good to go :).

  • Eliza Jane Fyfe

    Moderator
    May 3, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Bang on Kat, as always.

    In answer to your questions Ben:

    How much do you charge? When I was starting out, it was £25 for 45 mins and £30 for an hour. Then I switched to only teaching 45 min sessions, and raised that price to £27.50 for my existing students and £30 for newcomers. A year later, I became £30 for everyone for 45 mins. £40 for an hour if it’s asked for.

    Have you tested different pricing? (premium pricing vs average) Increments as above which allowed me to see how students responded. Nearly everyone stayed! New people still kept coming at a normal rate.

    If not, what makes you think that what you charge hits the sweet spot between clients gained and money made? I think I fall in the above average with my pricing (although I’m not entirely sure these days if I’m honest!) but as said above, I didn’t really lose any business and kept all my slots full and new people coming. So I earned a lot more and was a happy buzzy bee!

    Should I put my prices up or my time down and offer just 45 minute sessions? Or both? BOTH!

    Should I have different prices for guitar and singing lessons? I charge the same for singing and piano lessons, personally. And I link them a lot, so it’s similar workload and time.

    Hope this helps…

  • Ben Church

    Member
    May 8, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Hi both,

    Yes that helps a lot, thanks! I’m creating a spreadsheet to look at what the maximum I can teach is and the best way to charge and plan time vs where I think that fits with the value I offer and what I would need to do/the time it would take to maximise that value.

    I have to say I’m not sure I’d be comfortable putting prices up AND shortening lesson time to all in one go. What I might do is shorten lesson time and keep the currect price available only be block booking.

    Eliza – are you teaching 45 minutes lessons back to back? That would be worth doing for me, though sometimes I find the crossover can be awkward and it doesn’t leave much time for casual conversation as it is. I imagine that would be even harder with 45 minutes lessons and I don’t want people to feel like they’re on some music lesson conveyor belt. On the other hand, evenings is when the work usually is so I need to be able to get to people!

  • Eliza Jane Fyfe

    Moderator
    May 9, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Yes that’s a good idea I think, regarding prices.

    Yes I am back-to-back – I love it! Here’s a screen shot of my spreadsheet timetable if it helps!

    https://ibin.co/2gbL3ZcY8zKL.png (I’m an organisational freak, just to warn you!)

    Crossover is fine as it actually enables the students to meet and even listen to each other, which they don’t mind doing as most are regulars and aren’t so shy anymore!

    The music conveyor belt lol, that’s pretty much what my flat is like. I even joke saying “one in, one out!” NEXT!

    But on a serious note, they all get their full time and even a little chat and if it all runs over by 5/10 minutes it’s not a big deal – everyone is fine with it.

  • Ben Church

    Member
    May 9, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Ah yes that does look like an appealing timetable. Though I don’t currently work Saturdays as it’s basically the only day I see my partner, which is saying something as we just bought a house together! But I do work later so that might make the difference.

    And I appreciate that level of organisation, I’m similar myself!

    Yeah I do tend to find that a few minutes here or there for crossover doesn’t matter and people are fine if things run over a little. But then I’ve also justified it by feeling like I’m undercharging so if they’re only getting 55 minutes then that’s fair enough! I think I might have to get back to my own spreadsheet and finalise the decision on my future timetable and prices.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Kat Hunter

    Member
    May 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    @Eliza Thanks for sharing your timetable! Great to see how other teachers structure their time.

    Lately I’ve been scheduling small gaps (15 minutes) between some students so that I feel fully prepared and have had time to read my notes on the student before they come in. This does make the whole process a little more time consuming though.

    @Ben, I know how you feel! I feel as though half the point of working for oneself is that you get to choose when you work! At least to some degree. I choose not to work Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, so I get a nice big weekend to rest up and plan. And spend time with the cat and the husband.

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