One of our favorite topics at TeachPianoToday is how to teach piano to kids. In fact, we’ve written a huge series about teaching piano lessons to kids of all kinds. I love kids and I love the piano… I obviously chose the right career 🙂
But along with teaching piano to kids comes managing the business side of a studio and with managing the business side of a studio comes a serious dose of public relations; specifically relations with parents. Its something that you either naturally excel at… or find incredibly difficult.
But fear not! If you love teaching piano to kids but you don’t love the other “stuff” that comes with it here are our Top 7 Secrets of Piano Teacher PR.
1. Communicate Frequently: Good PR means means you actually need to do the “R” portion… you need to relate. Often. Long periods of no communication breeds problems. Find a way that works for you to communicate frequently with your piano parents that also doesn’t take over your life. As providers in a service industry we need to be continually clear about the service we are providing. I am sure you would be concerned about a plumber who slunk in your front door, did his work without a word and retreated to his truck. We like to be informed.
Piano teachers need to be frequently forthcoming with what is happening behind the studio doors. Find a good mixture of studio newsletters, personal emails, the occasional phone call and some kind of blog or online presence to communicate all that is happening not only at your studio but (and most importantly) with their own child.
2. Be One (Giant) Step Ahead: I can’t remember the last time a parent brought an issue to my attention. This is because I’ve become very good at “heading them off at the pass”. The moment I notice even an inkling of halted progress, lack of motivation, behavioral changes etc. I either email or phone to let the parent know what I’ve observed AND… tell them my plan for a solution. There is a difference between telling a parent that something is not right vs. telling a parent that something is not right and how you will be fixing it. When done enough times this places you in a very good position of having your parents trust you implicitly, knowing that you have everything under control.
3. Celebrate Their Child: It is a wonderful bit of nature in that parents adore their children, no matter what. As we are working closely with their kids you’ll gain nothing but brownie points if you find ways of showing that you too see their child’s special qualities. These don’t always need to be grand awards or gestures. Sometimes a few carefully chosen words mean much more than anything else.
4. Have a Written Piano Studio Policy: You’ll avoid many problems if your expectations for payment, lesson attendance, discontinuation of lessons, pick/up and drop off procedure, waiting room rules etc. are in writing and provided to piano parents before they begin lessons with you. Even those of us who do have written policies still deal with problems, but it’s much easier to refer to something in writing than to deal with case-by-case situations.
5. Learn to Let Go: I’ve often wished there was a website that would give you the satisfaction of pressing “send” on an email that would feel oh so good to send. 99% of the time it’s a really bad idea to press send to the actual person. 99% of the time it’s a great idea to instead put things into perspective and learn to let go of needing to be proven to be right. Regardless of who did what, said what, should have done what… you’ll attract more bees with honey than vinegar. And once you get really good at it, it’s actually equally as satisfying to be “oozing in honey” when needed…
6. Watch Written Word: Be very conscious of your tone in written communications with parents. In this digital age where we communicate via text and email it is easy to become blahsee about niceties. However, written communication can often be misinterpreted without careful attention. Not only that, but any written communication is also an opportunity for relationship building. Be sure to include a warm salutation, to include a nicety and to sign off with a friendly goodbye. Know that capital letters, bold, underlines etc. come across as shouting. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar reflect poorly on your business. Goofy email backgrounds and moving icons give a less than professional impression. Find your “digital voice” by looking for the perfect combo of pleasantness and business. Never write anything that you wouldn’t say face to face. Never write anything that you wouldn’t want publicly published. This seems trivial, but just one misinterpreted email can damage years of relationship-building with your piano studio clients.
7. Project Professionalism: If every part of your piano teaching studio is organized, consistent and professional then it puts you in a much better position for Piano Teacher PR. If people view you as an authority in your field they are much less likely to challenge you. Attention to detail makes a big difference and the time you spend fixing up those parts of your business that need it will save you hours in the long run dealing with the less desirable parts of running a piano studio.
Piano Teacher Public Relations is important to pay attention to, and by following these 7 guidelines you’ll be able to spend much more time thinking about how to teach piano effectively to kids instead of worrying about their parents. We work with the public and this means, of course, we will always have the occasional problem. However, by implementing these strategies you’ll notice these problems will become few and far between!