Raising Your Fee

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 commotion.

Preparation

Initiate an agressive advertising campaign a month or two before your fee increase is to take effect so you'll have students waiting in the wings to replae any who leave. Quote your new rate when you respond to telephone queries.

When?

By far, the most common time to change fees is in September, which coincides with the new school year (and, with most teachers, the new studio year). People are used to September's being a time of change. Also, there are many new families in the community at that time, having moved so their children will be able to start the year at their new school.

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.

How?

Present written notification of your fee increase at the beginning of the month -before- it is to take effect. Mailing notices is probably preferable to handing them to the students, as you can be reasonably assured the mail will be delivered. This 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 lesson will be $X. The fee for a half-hour lesson will be $Y." Just as you do not justify your fee when you answer a telephone inquiry about lessons, do not explain or defend your fee increase. 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 1998-2002, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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