I was just discussing with a friend the importance of good communication. It is an essential element to success in relationships, work, and play. Any business, including private music studios, relies on good communication as one of the keys to success. For example, during my time as a makeup and skin care professional, I learned a lot during training sessions about the importance of business communication. I was taught that after a personal consultation, when a client purchased a skin care package, that it was necessary to follow up with the client at two days, two weeks, and two months. This customer service call helped to insure the client was happy with his or her purchase, reminded them to keep using it, and helped them to trust me enough to become a long term client. It also helped them to reorder when they ran out, which kept my business going and growing. Without the follow up communication, a client might be a once and done purchaser, rather than a consistent client. This frequent communication is just as important in the music studio as it is in the skin care business. Here are a few communication ideas that I use.
Varied methods. I use a variety of means of communication in my studio – in person, on the phone, email, handouts, website, and, my personal favorite, Facebook. Facebook is great because your students and families can ‘see’ you, via your picture, even when they can’t see you in person. But I also like to follow up with emails and phone calls, because everyone processes information differently.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. People need to see and hear important information frequently to keep it in focus. How often do you remember that dental checkup that you scheduled six months in advance? That’s why your dentist office sends a postcard, email, and phone call – to remind you when your appointment is coming up. Don’t worry if you sound like the proverbial broken record, we all know that repetition is how information gets remembered. The same is as true for studio news, calendar changes as it is for teaching music.
Always be professional and courteous, but personable. As far as I’m concerned, there is never a reason to use foul language, defamatory remarks, or poor grammar. A little bit of politeness goes a long way in earning your clients’ respect; on the other hand, a bad temper can cause them to lose it. The old adage is helpful here: think before you speak. It might save you a student or two.
Make sure every new student has a welcome packet including your policies and teaching calendar. Welcome packets are a great, early means of communication. This gets everything out in the open, so that students and parents know what to expect and what you expect of them. This can prevent disappointment and unhappy students later on, and keep your studio running smoothly and efficiently.
Keep your website up to date, and use interesting info to keep them coming back. A great website is another wonderful communication tool, but only if your students actually visit it. Keep it visually appealing, up to date, and chock full of information, tools, resources, and fun. Offer incentives to encourage your students to visit often so they get in the habit of looking for communication from you. Music Teacher’s Helper provides a great free website to every subscriber, so take advantage of it.
Email lesson notes. Emailing lesson notes, as part of the Music Teacher’s Helper program, is easy and fast. It takes about a minute out of each lesson to type in their lesson notes, and I can have it emailed to the student before the lesson is even over. This simplifies the communication process for me, and is a great selling point for potential students.
Email the calendar and reminders often. Whenever I have to contact a student or parent about scheduling, I always attach my teaching calendar. If my students are anything like me, the calendar that I give them in the beginning of the school year is just another piece of paper to keep track of. So I send out reminders any time we have a scheduled break, and I include the calendar so the parents can double check it. They appreciate the consistency and it helps me to stay on top of my schedule.
One of my goals for this year is make communication happen more effectively and frequently. Great communication is a step towards a great private music teaching studio.