Moving a Music Studio
At some time in your career, you may be presented with the problem of moving your studio to another town. It's like starting from scratch, but it will be easier since you've had a studio before!
Before the Move
While househunting, gather information about your new town that will help your business get off to a flying start.
Find out whether you will be required to have business permits if you teach in your home. Your realtor might be able to tell you, but sometimes a realtor will tell you what you want to hear in order to close the deal. More reliable information, and information from which you should work, is available from city hall.
- Pick up free newspapers and local "shoppers'" magazines to get an idea of prices for goods and services.
- If possible, get a Sunday paper and copies of any "regional" magazines. Study each and try to determine the target audience. What do the ads and articles "say" about the people who live in the area?
- Go through the telephone book. Do music teachers advertise here? (In some communities they do and in some they don't.) What do the ads look like (size? added color?)? How many teachers advertise? What is the thrust of their ads (competition winners? electronic labs?) and to whom are they appealing? Is this the same group to whom you would?
- If you have a map, locate as many teachers as possible on it. How close are they to your new home?
- Call a couple of teachers and ask about their programs. If you feel uncomfortable calling as an in-coming teacher, feeling that they might feel threatened and/or not give you honest answers, pose as a parent seeking instruction for your child. A few such phone calls should give you a good idea for fees charged in the area and what is offered in the studio in exchange for that fee.
- Does the local teachers' group advertise in the phone book? Jot down the name and phone number of the president or other contact person. Call if you have time.
- Try to pinpoint a couple places to advertise. If the area is served by more than one newspaper, is one published in a larger metropolitan area with a "local news" section that covers your new town? If so, the totally-local newspaper is probably a better bet for a classified ad.
- My personal favorite place to advertise is the weekly/bi-weekly/monthly parents' newsletters sent out by elementary schools. If time permits, visit the schools within a 10-minute drive of your new home and inquire about placing ads in their newsletters. Timing your first insertion to occur about the time you hit town, find out to whom to send your copy and check. On your map, mark locations of schools near your new home.
- Visit local music stores and introduce yourself, saying you'll be moving to the area soon. Look over the stock. Leave a list with the manager of books you'll be calling for on a regular basis and that you do not see in the bins. You might pick up some information on local fees, who is president of the music teachers' groups, names of reliable piano technicians, and so on.
- A visit to a local college/university/junior college may net you some more good information. Go prepared with your résumé so the piano faculty chair knows something about the person to whom she might be referring students.
- Remember that most of your househunting expenses are deductible. Save all those receipts!
When you return to your old town, immediately write thank you letters to all your new contacts, thanking them for their help and saying you look forward to working with them. Include the date you'll be ready for new students, if you know it. (Allow yourself a week to move in, find the bed linen and pots and pans, and rest just a little!)
Once you know your new address and phone, you can begin advertising, even if you aren't in town yet.
- Arrange with the phone company for a phone number and ask that calls ring through to the number in your old town so you can start interviewing prospective students before you arrive. Arrange for calls to go to voice mail while you are in-transit to your new town. While talking with the phone company, ask for a list of available phone numbers and choose one which is memorable. You don't have to take the one they "assign" you.
- Have business cards printed in your old town. You're more likely to know where to get good quality and a reasonable price there than your new town.
- Update your brochure so it's ready to be photocopied and circulated as soon as you arrive in your new town. Or photocopy in your old town so you're ready to roll immediately!
Arrange with your moving company for the transport of your instruments. Be aware that there will be extra "keyboard" fees for each instrument (these should be tax-deductible, however; check with your accountant).
Prepare a box of teaching items you'll need right away, such as your metronome, stickers, your copy of Hanon, etc. Mark this box very well so it's easy to find in the sea of cartons.
If you have music in filing cabinets, ask for them to be transported loaded. The company probably will want to pack the music into book cartons because they weigh less than a fully-loaded file cabinet and are easier to maneuver, but you'll lose a -lot- of time unpacking and resorting your music if you succumb to the company's preferences. You are paying for this move; get what -you- want. I suggest transporting file cabinets full so you can get at your materials immediately.
Check with your accountant. What is deductible? Can you accountant recommend someone in your new town? If you want to stay with him, will your accountant work by phone, fax, and e-mail?
Your piano technician may be able to give you names of tuner/technicians in your new town.
After the Move
As soon as you are marginally settled in your new home, focus on advertising and promotion. Remember that it will take time for these to pull.
Place ads in local media. Besides school newsletters, I like classified ads. I find that display ads don't pull well.
Call music stores, universities, and your other contacts and let them all know that you are now open for business. Follow up each call with a letter.
In the "empty" time before your roster is once again full, tackle some of those jobs you never had time to do before, such as reorganizing your files or investigating new publications. Try some composing or arranging for your students-to-be. And of course, you'll have lots of time to practice! What a treat! Take advantage of it!
A move can be a very healthy career event. You'll meet new colleagues, find new challenges, and soon have a studio full of new students who will bounce into your studio ready to learn about the joys of playing the piano!
I have written another file on packing, moving, dealing with movers and getting damage reimbursed/fixed.
copyright 1998-2003, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me about reprint permission.
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