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

Chapter 7

Lie 6
I need to chase parents and tiptoe around teachers for make-up lessons and I need to financially credit parents  if I can't find a sub

I would say this is the biggest day to day mistake that studios make. It creates a tremendous amount of unnecessary studio admin activity.

Remember, you need to be a clock builder not a time teller.

The parent accounts are the clock we built. Make parents look at it. Parents get the reward of the make-up lesson they want.

The biggest mistake I have seen admins and studio owners make when running on StudioAutoPilot is hanging onto manually booking things for parents like they used to need to do. Some even insist that they need to or it is better customer service.

Basically, they do this

  They have an ultimate make-up lesson vending machine but they try to jump in and book make-up lessons for students. With StudioAutoPilot you do not need to do that.

After online registration, the biggest advantage StudioAutoPilot gives your studio is automated self-booking of make-up lessons for parents. It can be extremely efficient because parents can book themselves into other student’s cancellations.

At our studio we do not manually book make-up lessons for parents. Even if our teacher was the one who missed the lesson. We tell parents how to book it themselves and they decide what works for their schedule. Way less back and forth.

If you do group make-up lessons our system can let your parent’s self-book them that way too. Do not get parents to call you and do not chase them. That’s time telling.

Here are some of our general system wide stats on make-up lessons.

70% are caused by student cancellations
25 % are caused by teacher cancellations
5% are caused by the studio cancelling for power outages or snow days or other unforeseen incidents.

So, 95% of make-ups are not the studios fault. Make the people who caused the make-up issue fix it. We do.

In StudioAutoPilot, teacher accounts show a list of make-ups they owe and teachers can message parents asking them to self-book. Teachers cannot book make ups for parents – that would be a bad idea. But teachers can encourage parents to book.

Parents can see the times that are available on a regular basis and self-book when and if they like.

I say “if” and this is huge.

In our system you set a make-up lesson expiry date. If parents do not use a lesson by this date the lessons will just expire. It’s the use it or lose it date. Just like airlines who give you a flight credit valid for a year then it expires. It’s not evil, it’s basic business. Liabilities cannot be forever.

On average 30% of owed make-up lessons are not booked at all and expire. They expire. Poof. No one cares. Not the family, and not the teacher.

If you are running your studio properly now, you will only pay the teacher after they do the make-up.

Paying teacher before they do the owed make-ups is a nightmare if they quit or get injured and can’t continue teaching. Do you pay a new teacher who took over to do the make-ups too?

Pay when they are done. Hopefully you do that now.

Our system automates that for you so when a make-up is self booked by the parent the pay is added back onto the teacher pay.

Our teachers see what they owe but even so, a lot of them do not chase the parents to book the make-up.

The parents see the owed time too but a lot of parents don’t book the time.

Why not? If a teacher owes 5 hours of make-ups they may just not want to book an extra Saturday to do them and get paid.

Why don’t parents care about not getting make-up time owed to them?

Getting an extra lesson booked is a pain for most of them. Since we put video lesson rooms in every student account, they could easily take a make-up as a live video lesson and not even come to the studio but even so, a lot of parents just don’t book their make-up lessons.

If you as a studio owner have your own kids in lessons, you probably let your own owed make-up lessons slide. My wife and I do. Scheduling one more thing is a pain. 30% of parents feel this way.

When you think of expensive private schools who have a snow day and cancel, they never have students come in during summer vacation to make-up for that extra day. Yippee, Summer Math!!!

Give parents the self-booking option. Give them the live video lesson option. Tell you teachers to message parents and remind them. Then just let it go. Stop chasing. Tell your admins to stop chasing.

If you can believe me in this one point your studio and your life will get way easier.

A large studio in Texas believed me on this. They owed a staggering 200 hours of make up time to parents by their expiry date. The lessons expired, no one cared. Not the parents and not the teachers.

What is $30 per hour (the average pay rate of that studio) x 200?

Six thousand dollars.

They did not need to pay out six thousand dollars. The lessons were not taught so they did not pay. That number was added directly to the bottom line of the studio.

Some people may think that is scandalous.

I disagree. We as studios absorb the cost of families who do not pay, owe us money and then quit. Many studios have had that happen to them over the years. They teacher still gets paid. We all absorbed the losses and costs of Covid expenses and did not charge more.

Don’t feel guilty.

If you had a flight credit with American Airlines that expired after a year, they would not call you in a panic on day 356 and chase you to use it, and then feel guilty and then extend it again. That’s an unnecessary, guilty studio owner move. Please trust me and join the $6000 club of the Texas studio owner.

Here’s one more mini-lie kind of attached to make-ups.

About 60% of studio owners believe they need to financially credit parents for the upcoming month if they can’t find a sub for their regular lesson time, instead of just giving them a time make-up credit to use.

If you are doing this now but I can convince you based on the thousands of transactions I see to do it a different way, you will add at minimum hundreds but probably thousands for dollars to your studio bottom line each year.

A good percentage of studios even the studios who do group make-up classes, try to find a sub for a missing teacher during the week and if they cannot find a sub, they give a financial credit to reduce the upcoming payment for parents in the following month. I see it happen in the system and I just shake my head and audibly say NO!!

You do NOT need to do this with StudioAutoPilot. If you do not get a sub, just push the “cancel by teacher” button and it will give the parents a lesson credit of make-up time not a financial credit or refund, that they can use in the future by self booking when there is a gap or available or another student’s cancelation.

Parents are 100% fine with this. I see studios who insisted on just charging less in the following month for those missed lessons, but they are basically giving away thousands of dollars per year.

We have always issued time credits for future use instead of reducing the fee for the next month even before StudioAutoPilot. When I started seeing studios doing credits to reduce the upcoming billing, I was shocked. It is totally unnecessary.

BUT SAM! It’s our policy!

Then change your policy. If some old guard parents insist that you credit them, deal with it on a case-by-case basis. But only do it if they ask you for a credit. Don’t instantly offer it or give them a choose of make-up or refund. Also do NOT let you from desk admins give a choice of make-up lesson or refund to everyone all the time.

The beauty and efficiency of StudioAutoPilot is the ability for parents to self-book make-ups and reuse other cancelled times. Use it.

All kinds of businesses and industries make changes and it is no big deal. The airlines used to give you free bags, now they don’t. Life goes on.

I have coached lots of studio owners through this change and it is a small thing that makes a big difference. You just need the guts to do it. If you lack guts, just use mine. They are a composite of steel, experience and data (with some of my own naturally wussyness hidden in there still.)  Please, just do this and it will make a big difference to your bottom line and you deserve to make more profit. As an industry we are underpaid compared to several other industries. Daycares make way more money overall then music studios and they have less education. So don’t feel guilty, make the change and be happy with your decision.