When I started teaching the guitar professionally way back in 2001, I quickly realised that to ensure I could make a living, I needed to keep my clients coming back for more.
Here’s a few tricks of the trade on how to run a successful guitar tuition business.
Way before you even pick up the guitar, you need to make sure that you’re giving off the right impression. If you advertise, make sure it looks tasteful and professional. Do you have a business card? If not, get one! Do you have a web presence? You need one.
Don’t confuse your teaching website with your playing/touring/band website – a simple link will suffice. Answer enquiries quickly and don’t force a ‘hard sell’.
What is your teaching space like? If it’s a spare room, do your best to make it look tidy, clean and like a teaching studio. If it’s your bedroom, make sure you don’t have dirty pants on the floor! Obvious eh? You’d be surprised…
Your students have to like you. Be friendly, open and smile. If you’ve had a bad day, it’s not their problem – they’re paying you for what is possibly the highlight of their week, so don’t ruin it! Maybe offer a drink and have a quick chat – get to know your client. You will enjoy a long working relationship together if you do.
If you teach from a book, that’s okay but also listen to your student. If they want to learn European Power Metal, don’t spend 6 months on book 1, page 1 – ‘She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain’!
Of course, they need to work towards something in steps, but give them a sense of progression, in this case maybe power chords or some easier Rock/Metal riffs.
If you do teach with a slightly ad-hoc style, make sure that each lesson relates to the last one in some way and is setting you up for the next. Learnt a scale last week? What riffs can you play with it? What chords go with it? Is it similar to another one?
One of the advantages of being full time is that you have lots of time, so use it wisely.
If your student can’t make every week, can they do fortnightly? If not, can you accommodate their shift pattern? People with odd/long work times don’t particularly like it themselves and they may have considered not calling you because they thought it would be an issue – don’t make it one.
Have a Cancellation Policy
…and enforce it, within reason.
I have a strict 24hr policy, which I feel is fair and works for me and if anyone cancels within that time they have to pay the full amount. Make sure they are aware of this and preferably, have signed a contact details sheet with the cancellation policy clearly stated on the bottom. That said, if I am able to reschedule a lessons because of a real, unavoidable problem then out of good faith, I usually will but they have to earn that privilege first; maybe by having been a regular customer for a while or having paid a prior cancellation fee quickly and promptly.
Respect goes a long way but it’s a two way door – you also have to earn theirs.
I HAD to put this in here!
Maybe once or twice EVER you can show your student your sheer brilliance on the guitar but remember, they’re not a fan or a disciple and their lesson is certainly not the time to be recruiting. They’re paying customers and they expect YOU to help them improve on the guitar. Nobody wants to be thinking “I’ll never be able to do that” when they’re learning – they already might be thinking it anyway! You’re job is to get them motivated and believing that it is possible and confident that you are the right person for the job. If you really feel the need to show off and be told how good you are by your student, then you really shouldn’t be teaching.
If they haven’t already seen/heard you play then they will naturally be curious about you and may ask or look you up on the net – then of course, it’s socially acceptable to unleash the beast a little…! 😉
There’s so many more aspects to running a successful guitar tuition business – why not post some of your ideas in the comment box below?
Until next time…