If you think it's time for a fee increase and you're comfortable with the risk factors, let's talk about how to implement one so it causes the least disturbance.
Initiate an aggressive advertising campaign a month or two before your fee increase is to take effect so you'll have students waiting in the wings to replace any who leave.
Quote your new rate when you respond to telephone queries.
Another time: February or March, when the spate of holiday bills is past but income taxes are not yet due.
Other options: consider raising fees when everyone is basking in the glow of a studio success, such as after a dynamite mid-year recital.
Mailing notices is probably preferable to handing them to the students, as you can be reasonably assured the mail will be delivered. A mailed notice also allows families to react to the news in private.
I suggest a very simple statement: "Effective September 1, xxxx, the fee for an hour less will be $X. The fee for a half-hour lesson will be $Y. Sincerely, zzzz."
Just as you do not justify your fee when you answer a telephone inquiry about lessons, do not explain or defend your fee increase to present students. It is what is it.
I have seen letters some teachers have drafted, explaining why the increase is needed, how long it has been since fees were adjusted, or listing the benefits of study or the new additions in equipment or programs. This is totally unnecessary.
Such a letter also is not good business. It makes parents think you are not convinced you are good enough to demand a better fee and are begging their forgiveness for going ahead anyway. Adults are familiar with cost of living increases, and if you have been doing your job properly, each family will know and appreciate the benefits of study with you and be acquainted with any new studio activities or equipment.
The more you write, the more opportunities there are to take issue with your statements.
Keep it simple, brief, and unapologetic.
copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me about reprint permission.