It has been a little over a year since my husband and I moved to Ohio from Michigan. I have been thinking a lot lately about what it was like to relocate and start a studio from scratch in an unfamiliar area. I’m sure some of you have been through this too, or will be going through it soon — perhaps my reflections can be of encouragement to some of you! Here is what I learned from the experience:
- FACT: It may take more time than you would like to build a studio from scratch. It helps to make small goals. Calculate how many students you need in order to break even financially, and make that your goal first. Then, you can raise your goal to your preferred amount of students.
- FACT: The time it takes to build a piano studio REALLY depends upon the need for it in an area. If you move somewhere where piano teachers are scarce, you could have a full studio in no time at all. If you move somewhere where there seem to be enough or an over-saturated amounts of teachers, it can take more time.
- FACT: It is easy to feel down about only having a few students, especially when you feel that you are doing everything right. It is not easy to be patient.
- FACT: Always charge what you are worth. It is tempting to significantly lower your rates in the interest of gaining students faster. However, there is no way to prove that this strategy will actually work in your area, and charging less will only make it more difficult to survive financially until your studio grows. The amount you charge attracts a certain kind of clientele. What kind of students do you want to attract?
- FACT: Networking really does work. When done right, networking means simply being interested in people (versus just promoting yourself to everyone you meet). It is surprising what kind of opportunities will arise due to chance meetings from months ago. It helps to put yourself out there and join various organizations.
- FACT: Diversifying your income is an excellent business strategy. Don’t just give piano lessons. Teach classes for preschoolers, adult students, and homeschool music classes. Freelance as a pianist for singers/instrumentalists and play for weddings.
- FACT: When marketing, it is good to do so in many different methods of advertising. Many potential students do not call until they have seen your studio’s name in multiple places. But skip the newspaper and phone book — those methods are costly and outdated. Get a website instead, put lettering in your window (if your zoning laws permit it) and put flyers up around town.
These are some of the lessons I learned as a relocated piano teacher. :) Please share about your own experiences in the comments below this post!