Increasing Lesson Cost (All Teachers)

  • Jake South

    Member
    September 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Hi guys, not sure if this has been discussed before but I’ve been considering increasing my lesson cost for a while and was wondering if you had any advice.
    I’ve been teaching for nearly 5 years so feel like my ability as a teacher and quality of lessons has greatly improved. Also a large percentage of my lessons are from students homes which takes up that much more of time with travel and I can’t get more students as I have to give that much more time travelling between lessons.
    Feel like this is the only way to eventually go full time. Has anyone else done this? Any advice you have would be great!

  • Eliza Jane Fyfe

    Moderator
    September 14, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Jake,

    So I’m in Bristol and have been teaching for 4 years. I inflated to £2.50 more after one year of teaching I think, as I took on a secondary teacher in Year 2. Then I inflated by £2.50 again the following year, then again but not for another 2 years (so this year). I think I’ll hold off for a while now so that I don’t price myself out of the market. And that’s working from home, fully booked, lessons back to back. I didn’t lose any students as it wasn’t a huge increase and everyone was pretty regular and happy with their lesson commitment. I would definitely push up those prices especially if you’re travelling to them!

    I hope that helps?

  • Matthew Rusk

    Organizer
    September 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Jake,

    Great post – absolutely, it sounds like a sensible and justified move. My broad advice would be (a) tell your students well in advance of a price change, giving a set date when prices change – the new year is always a good time to change the price, though that might be a bit far off at the moment (b) when informing student provide a good reason for the change, blaming it on third party factors is a good idea… (c) be prepared for a few students to leave – this is natural in a price change (d) know that the change of price might effect new enquiry numbers coming through, but those students who do take up future lessons won’t bat an eyelid at the price as they have never known it to be cheaper.

    It is always worth focusing on the target output, which is for you to be 100% book up for all the hours you want to teach at the highest possible value price for those hours. Having a blank price increase might not necessarily help achieve that – however, when combined with perhaps a discounted daytime rate with your new higher peak time rate that might really help achieve that aim.

    In addition, keeping a flexible approach to pricing is a really sensible way to go – if you find that enquiries dry up or throughout the summer it gets particularly quiet then having discounted rates during those times makes a lot of sense as holding out for a higher price if people aren’t coming to lessons doesn’t help. Alternatively, if enquiry numbers and student attendance stay roughly the same it suggests that you are entirely justified in the price increase as the market can take it – my feeling is that Bath is likely to be able to take a slightly higher price point as a location, whereas a location like Middlesborough might not be able to.

    Last thing to consider is whether you want the change to apply to all students, or only all new students – some teachers decide to apply a change to all new enquiries, while others implement it across the board. There are pros and cons to both – my thoughts are if handled in the right way your students will be very understanding of a reasonable price increase.

    So it is a balance of analysing the marketplace in terms of new student enquiries, implementing a challenging political change for current students and reviewing these changes over time to see if they were the correct ones to make – all while keeping the single focus in mind of having 100% lesson time booked out at the highest possible price.

    Some teachers who have higher prices actually earn less overall income than teachers with a slightly lower price point who can attract enough of the marketplace to have consistent student numbers each week. I have seen this a lot in the UK with teachers who go past the £30+ mark, where sometimes – depending on the location and instrument – their overall teaching income can decrease by passing that threshold.

    In terms of how to introduce it there is a great post in the MGR Music Tuition forum that might help explore that more (you will need to be logged in to view) – https://mgrmusic.com/community/groups/music-teachers/forum/topic/price-increase-tips/ – hope this helps. If you would like to explore it more then I am more than happy to Skype sometime as it is something that I have helped a lot of teachers implement.

    On another note, exploring the possibilities of getting all students travelling to a single location might be a really interesting one to explore – this will allow you to increase your potential teaching capacity as you reduce your travelling time, as well as justify a price increase if the location is a genuinely nice location to teach from (though this might also be an additional expense as well). Would you be interested in having all students travel to you in the long run?

    Kind regards,

    Matthew

  • Eliza Jane Fyfe

    Moderator
    September 15, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I’d like to add that I did everything Matthew suggested in his first point – I missed a lot of detail there! I also forgot to mention that at one point I introduced a “price increase discount” for existing students as an incentive and to show loyalty… so only a £2.50 increase for them and a fiver for new business… can’t remember when I did that, but it worked!

    Oh, and I’ve gone past the £30 mark now, and that’s for Bristol, and still 100% booked up. I don’t know how long this will last though, as I’m aware enquiries can take a hit if you price yourself too high, so I certainly won’t be increasing again anytime soon. But if that’s for Bristol, Bath might be able to cope with higher amounts, as it’s a more affluent area I think… I don’t know what Matthew thinks…?!

    And yes – teach from home if at all possible!

  • Matthew Rusk

    Organizer
    September 16, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Unfortunately, the two situations are not really comparable as they are different instruments – so enquiry numbers are very different. With on average 4.14 enquiries per month coming in for Jake during 2017, compared 18.00 enquiries per month for Eliza so Eliza has so much more scope to increase prices and retain her teaching capacity – even a slight overshoot in prices for Jake could see his enquiry numbers drop below a level that makes his teaching viable as a full time income.

    A carefully considered approach for Jake is really important to keep the enquiries at a level that makes the teaching viable – lets explore the locational ideas, is there a possibility to get more students to travel to you? 🙂

  • Jake South

    Member
    September 16, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I have looked at hiring a place, but its just too expensive in the bath area. I am now in a position I can teach from home but I feel like the fact I am willing to teach from students homes is a big selling point. Bath has quite a few other teachers so this helps me stand out. Having said that I am teaching a few lessons from home so I think the idea of having a peak time and discounted day lessons might be quite appealing. Maybe only a slight increase for lessons at home, similar to what Eliza did, would work and then implementing a travel expense if they want lessons from home maybe?

  • Jonathan Draper

    Member
    September 20, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I generally tell people at the end of term that the lesson fee will increase. That way, they can think about it over the holidays. Thankfully, nobody has ever said no! It’s quite rare that I increase my fee – generally about once a year. People generally don’t mind an extra pound on lessons occasionally. I don’t have a flexible pricing policy because I’d find budgeting a nightmare.

  • Roda Odari

    Member
    September 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Hi. By all means you should increase your fees though I think it’s always a good idea to let the parents know before hand. I normally give them 3 months’ notice and tell them what it will be(the cost). If you communicate with parents by letter, it would be nice to put this in a letter. I personally don’t travel to people’s homes as I find it difficult, so well done to you. After Christmas is a good time to start new fees as it’s a new year and term. Giving notice now gives the parents/carers time to plan and gives you an indication of who is sticking with you next year. I have found that when your students make progress and you are dedicated, raising the fee does not tend to be an issue.

    Good luck!

    Roda Odari

  • Alan Richardson

    Member
    October 1, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Dont know if this helps but I tend to just increase prices on new students. This means you dont spook the existing ones who get rewarded for loyalty. With natural attrition the price increase gradually filters through. You could then go back to original prices easily in the event that the numbers drop off. You have to judge a fair price given the area etc. Good Luck

  • Alan Tang

    Member
    October 5, 2017 at 7:49 am

    This is a tricky one.
    I also travel and I use travelling costs to cover these outgoings.
    I have been a trained teacher for over 12 years now and have taught peripatetic lessons on and off for around the same amount of time.

    I am thinking seriously of increasing but am fearful of losing students so I think what I may do is wait one more year and point out that I will be increasing. Any potential new students I have in the coming year I may consider bringing up the cost. It will probably be about £2.00 increase.

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