9 Lies That Are Holding Your Studio Back and the System That Will Set It Free

Chapter 2

Lie 1
I can’t change too many things or I will wreck my studio

I’ll start with the biggest, most limiting lie first. Most studio owners are not afraid of registering new students on StudioAutoPilot. Almost every studio owner has at some time in their life booked airline tickets or hotel rooms or rental cars online before, so they believe that letting people self-register for lessons can work if you have the right system. We at StudioAutoPilot are constantly proving that to be true thousands of times each month with every new registration that comes in.

Studio owners are afraid of the “massive change” they think it will mean to their existing studio parents. I have had several interactions with studio owners who are convinced that their current parents will absolutely NOT be able to handle any change.

 A lot of times the fearful studio admins will jump in too and make the problem worse by sharing their vivid predictions with the owner based on their imaginations of how people just “won’t” be able to do it without their expert admin assistance.

Ok I get it; change is scary for most people. I had to change our system on over 2000 of our studio parents in 2019, AND we had zero proof showing it would work because we were the absolute first studio using StudioAutopilot.

Change is hard but, have you ever changed anything else at your studio?

Tell me, have you ever:

Raised your lesson fees?
Done a mid-year permanent teacher change that affected all of the families on a certain day or certain week?
Told a full day or full week or students they have a sub for the current week or maybe for a couple of weeks?
Told a student to come at a different time or different day for a make-up lesson?
Told a family that they would need to wait one or 2 weeks to get started because a new teacher you hired bailed out and didn’t start working for you?
Had to close and change lessons around because of a power failure or weather event like a major storm?
Moved (changed) your studio location?
Had existing admin staff stop working for you?
Had a new admin staff start working?
Changed anything (or everything) in your studio operation for Covid?

Chances are you have said yes to several things on that list which means you have changed a lot of things at your studios. AND you are constantly changing things on parents every month. AND you are still in business. Your parents are used to change. Studio owners just don’t see it that way.

Ironically the main thing parents actually do not want to change is the thing that a lot of studios do change on parents regularly. Their lesson time. Sometimes the studio does it because a teacher can’t keep teaching on a certain day. Sometimes the teacher has a university schedule that changes and cannot start that early any more. Some studios try to move students earlier or later to accommodate that new family promising to register their 3 kids that “need” them all at 4:30 or else. (Hey, I’ve done it before too, although I don’t do it any more and don’t recommend it.) Other times studios will move a lesson time to get it covered by a sub who has a gap that is 30 minutes later. Parents don’t like those changes but studios do it to them.

Changing a time on a parent has the biggest potential impact on their family schedule and life but studios do it constantly throughout the year without giving too much thought on how that affects the parent’s impression of the studio and the overall retention.

Every music studio is already constantly changing. You are not introducing changes for the first time with a new software system.

Most studio owners are hung up about how they “need” to keep operating and they get terrified of the one-time changes while switching to StudioAutoPilot which will all be easily accepted.

What if it “doesn’t work”? What if we look “unprofessional”?

Remember, I have data showing hundreds of thousands of times these “scary” changes were put in place at studios and no studio was “wrecked” or even slightly damaged. Their numbers went up, not down.

Covid showed us all that everything can change and life goes on. Everyone’s life changed permanently in how they work, shop, eat and how they “sanitize”.

There is only one person who will be affected by changes you fear – YOU- the studio owner! You will only be affected by the fear you experience temporarily before you realize that these “radical” changes I am suggesting are accepted and actually work.

Sir Winston was right. You need to fear, fear itself - it is screwing you up and costing you thousands of dollars in missed opportunities to run more efficiently and logically.

Last year I had an intelligent successful studio owner with over 500 students contact me frantically a few days before launching on StudioAutoPilot, practically begging me if they could not do certain automated payment methods or operational procedures for “just a few” “special” families who they were sure that after hearing about the “MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR changes!!!” ( I listened politely, while they went on) would absolutely freak out, lose their minds, quit, attack them, or other far worse things based on the panic in their voice. Of course, that studio owner had not actually asked any of the “few families” to do anything yet. They were just sure, once they did ask, that their imagination and admin predictions would come true.

In the next chapter I’ll tell you the exact lines to say to those scary families you’re afraid of and the exact place to pause and not say anything.

In summary, none of the “few special” families resisted at all or even acted close to how the studio owner thought they would. They all went along with the system. Easy. Just like asking travelers to check themselves in at the airport kiosk.

Most studios seriously overthink our online system, even though it is actually a very simple thing built from various pieces and processes that have been part of modern life for almost 30 years. We are not giving parents anything “new”. We are just letting them do what they do in every other industry for music lessons.

I even had one studio owner so panicked about “all the changes” of StudioAutoPilot that his exact words were: “What if I switch to StudioAutoPilot and bankrupt my studio?

Hmmm, bankrupt it? By having a system that registers new students 24 hours a day, eliminates errors, reduces staffing costs, collects more money by proper accurate billing, increases parent satisfaction by letting them book their own make-ups, increases retention by letting teachers post practice notes and communicate with parents in a way that you the studio owner control and monitor?

So, in the mind of that studio owner, adding those improvements would bankrupt their studio?

Adding the same system which we have used at our studio for almost 4 years which allowed us to do $1,269,137.84 in revenue between January 1, 2022-December 31, 2022 in just one location while being closed Sundays (by choice, day of rest baby! Chick–fil-A has it right about being closed Sundays). Operating with just one full time and one part time admin (not overlapping at the same time - different shifts only 1 person at our front desk ever) for a total of just 44 hours of office admin time per week. Our studio is very far from bankrupt. Our automated system moves us and other studios who use it much farther away from bankrupt, not closer to it.

I will challenge anyone reading this to show me a lower admin to gross revenue ratio than ours for a single location studio that does over $1,000,000 per year in revenue.

Since our admin costs are under $50,000 per year, based on our revenue that is one of the lowest revenue to admin cost ratios in any studio in North America. I know it is, I have studio data to prove it. If you do over a million per year in one location and have lower admin costs than me, please email us and I will rewrite this section of the book and say my numbers are good but yours are better than mine.

Bankrupt it?

That was sheer, irrational panic talk and frankly, really insulting to me. Accusing me of giving the industry something that would bankrupt them when I have offered advice that has helped over 200 studio owners buy their own building, creating some millionaires in the process, and building my personal family net worth to over $30 million dollars based on the value of our paid off real estate and other investments. That’s without even assigning any value to our studio or the StudioAutoPilot software company. Saying that fear out loud made zero sense. But fear can make you truly irrational.

Changes that seem like the biggest deal ever to you the studio owner are no big deal at all to parents. Slightly changing how you bill for lessons to a much more logical, easier to understand format or how you allow parents to self-schedule things that were previous closely guarded by your admins (for no real reason) may be terrifying to studio owners but they are a non-issue to your current parents. Literally, I’ve seen these changes go over smoothly thousand and thousands of times month after month.

Ok. You can change. You don’t ever panic about changing a lesson time. Don’t panic about doing an effectively smaller change for parents. Let’s move on the biggest lie and change which will have the greatest positive operational impact on your studio but it scares 90% of the studio owners when they initially see it.