Yes we’re in the middle of a pandemic. People have lost their jobs. The world isn’t quite what it was. Not only are you concerned about raising your rates, you may even be charging less for online lessons than you did in person.
So, how can you compassionately raise your rates? First, you’ll need to deal with your limiting beliefs.The truth is plenty of companies and business owners are still profitable, think Amazon.com. In fact the businesses that are doing the best right now are the ones that are either naturally primed to take advantage of stay at home orders, like Amazon or those which have pivoted quickly to our new reality, like in person singing teachers shifting their lessons online. Make sense?
If you’re now teaching online, congratulations! That was a big step. The next step is to deal with your limiting beliefs, so you can actually make a sustainable income without burning out.
Do you believe: online lessons are inferior to in person lessons, people can’t afford lessons right now because of the pandemic, have other things to pay for that matter more than lessons or simply don’t value lessons enough to pay what you’re time is worth?
If you answered yes to any of those thoughts, then you’re living with a limiting belief. And you’re unlikely to comfortably raise your rates until you let it go. You may think these beliefs are facts, but really a belief is simply a thought you keep thinking and in order to run a profitable voice studio, you’ve got to let go of thoughts that don’t serve your goals.
So let’s turn these thoughts around and come up with new thoughts, that you can intentionally turn into your new beliefs.
How do these statements feel? They’re just as true as the earlier ones!
- Not everyone is struggling.
- Many people were already working remotely.
- Not everyone is out of work.
And how about these statements?
- You have value.
- Your expertise is constant whether delivered in person or online.
- Singing lessons transform lives.
- Singing heals the body and soul.
Seriously, just stop for a moment to appreciate everything singing has done for you personally. How it’s transformed your own life. Isn’t that worth paying for.
Now that you’re more comfortable with the idea of raising your rates, here’s a three step process to raise them firmly and compassionately.
1. Start with new students. New students don’t know your old rate, so they won’t be “offended” about an increase. Don’t assume they can’t “afford” your new rate. And if a particular student shares their individual hardship, feel free to offer need based partial scholarships ONLY to those truly in need. Also remember that with a higher rate, you can teach fewer students, which will help you to avoid burnout.
2. If you’re someone who hasn’t raised your rates in a long time then you probably have students paying you far below market value. Yes, you may have close relationships with these students over many years, but ask yourself if you also have a growing resentment that you’re not being fairly compensated. Ask yourself if the energetic exchange feels appropriate. And ask yourself if you’re actually doing them a disservice by not providing the opportunity for them to compensate you fairly for your time.
To start with, raise your old students just a small amount at a time. Start with $5 for example. Definitely let them know your new current rate, while reassuring them that this isn’t what they need to pay. This will ease the sting and underscore for them that you do value the relationship and history.
Here’s where the compassion comes in. Smaller increases over time feel much easier than a big single increase. Also, letting your older students know that you don’t expect them to reach the new rate right away let’s them know you’re thinking about them personally.
But don’t stop here. Since small increases feel more palatable, build a specific percentage increase into your studio guidelines moving forward. Let new students know this policy from the very beginning and let your older students know at the time you make the first increase.
3. Set the expectation with students that your rates increase every 6 months (or year.) Then stick to this policy. This way you’ll never have to play catch up again!
Bottom line, you do have great value and your students are lucky to study with you! You deserve to be well compensated for your time. And ultimately it’s entirely up to you what you charge.
Are you starting to see how easy it can be to compassionately raise your rates. Music has value. And so do you!