A Music Lesson Makeup Policy That Everyone Loves | Ep 100

Your Students and Your Office Staff Will Love This

Ever wonder how to come up with a makeup policy for your music studio? A music lesson makeup lesson everyone will love? Offering makeup lessons is a seemingly pro-customer feature in any music studio.  Makeup music lessons however require administrative muscle, energy, and time. Scheduling makeup lessons can turn into a full-time job as your studio expands beyond the 100+ student count. It can also become a source of distraction and stress; especially when your instructor fails to show up for the makeup scheduled at an earlier or later time than usual (has that ever happened to you?)


How Much Money Are You Losing to MakeUp Music Lessons?

In a recent poll conducted in the Music Lessons and Marketing group, the average music studio spends 8-12 hours a month on rescheduling and managing makeup lessons.  That breaks down to $150-$200 in administrative time to accommodate those that have other, or even “better” things to do.


How to Focus on the things that really matter in your Studio

What if you could eliminate that expense and free up time to focus more on making sales and strengthening your relationships with customers?

In episode 100  of Music Lessons and Markering, I reveal a makeup music lesson policy that your customers will love and will free you up to focus more on the things that really matter (Operations Manual...hint hint)


-Show Highlights-


Makeup Music Lesson Policy Version 1

When I started my music studio back in 2003, I implemented a makeup policy that a lot of music studios use. The classic 24 hours to cancel and reschedule. That worked pretty well when my studio had 30-80 students. When I hit that 100 student mark I noticed that I was devoting a lot of time and energy into scheduling these makeups. It also wasn’t always possible to schedule the make-up or the options I offered didn’t work well for the parent. I would spend a lot of time trying to find an opening in their teacher’s schedule so they could do their makeup music lesson. It soon became apparent to me that rescheduling lessons was turning into what felt like a full-time job.


Rescheduling Lessons Increases Expenses

I hired an administrative assistant and one of her tasks was to reschedule lessons and that certainly eats up quite a few hours of her week. This meant that I was spending money each week to accommodate people, to reschedule their lessons.


The Pros and Cons of a No Makeup Music Lessons Policy

I finally saw that light when I asked one of my favorite go-to-for-advice customers how she would feel if I were to eliminate this makeup policy and go with a  “no-makeup policy”, like, that’s Her response to me was, “Let me ask you this. Are there ever days in the month that you don’t run your business due to a holiday or snow day?” “of course” was my response.  “Well, do you ask your landlord for a break from rent on those days?” I saw where she was going with this.


Do You Charge a Flat Monthly Rate For Music Lessons?

“So why should your customers be given a discount or be given the opportunity to make =up their lessons, they’re paying a flat monthly fee. If they can’t make their lesson, that’s on them. Why should it become your problem? Why should you have to use up your administrative resources to accommodate this customer? Where do you draw the line? Why should your customers even prioritize showing up whenever they have a scheduling conflict? They know you’ll bend over backward to reschedule the lesson” Wow, I like this lady. Don’t you wish all of your customers talked to you like this? After this inspiring conversation I implemented a new “no makeup music lessons policy.


The Truth About Makeup Music Lessons

There was some actually minimal pushback. I spun it as “we can’t offer makeup lessons because the schedule is so full and that we can’t guarantee everybody a makeup lesson. Since we can’t guarantee it to everyone, the fair thing to do is to no longer offer them.” There was certainly truth to this statement. The bigger we grew the harder it was to find makeup times that worked for both parties


Keep Your Studio Policies Simple

After a few months, everyone got the hang of it. Whenever I enrolled a new student, I always made a point to share with them this policy. My studio policies in general had a few sticking points. I put them in bold. Whenever I enrolled a student, a part of the onboarding process was to share with them, prior to their first lesson, these three or four policies that I know could be difficult for people. This worked out well for the most. Every once in a while someone would complain about it. My go-to line was always, “well, we can’t guarantee makeup to everyone because some of our teachers are full. Since we can’t guarantee it to everyone, we can’t offer it to anyone. I know this can be frustrating but we want to do what’s fair.”


I was aware that it was not a very pro-customer policy but my instructors and office staff loved it. A common occurrence would be that a teacher would have an opening at 3:30 pm but their day would typically start at 4:00 pm. We email the instructor that they’re going to have a makeup music lesson at this earlier time. We send a reminder or two to the instructor. You know how this story goes. The instructor forgets, the student shows up and you have this pretty little mess to deal with.


How Your Instructors Feel About Makeup Music Lessons

Rescheduled lessons also mean your instructor is sitting around during their usual scheduled time and not getting paid. No one wants to be at work if you’re not getting paid; even if you know that’s a part of the deal when you’re an hourly employee. Doesn’t make good for morale either.


If your teachers are contractors, well, that’s a whole other problem in and of itself. But look, if they’re there, they should get paid. And if they had a gap, I would say, I’m gonna do everything in my power to fill that gap. But if they’re getting gaps in their schedule due to makeups and they’re having the come in early or stay late; it’s really asking a lot of them. And they didn’t like these makeups. So I had this no-makeup policy now, but I guess it was not very pro-customer. And for years I functioned that way. But then I came up with a makeup policy that really was a huge hit. The best part about it was it didn’t have to involve my office staff at all. It was all put in the hands of the customer.


A Winning Makeup Policy


  1. Set aside three times in the week to do makeup lessons.
  2. A prime time spot (Wed at 4:30 pm)
  3. two non-prime time spots (Sat & Sun 3:300 pm)
  4. Pay an instructor to be available during these times.
  5. Conduct small group (2-3 kids), classes
  6. Group by ages
  7. All all instruments
  8. Small ensemble exercises and jams


The student doesn’t work on what they are doing in their lessons. They’re going to have It gets better. I offered them, unlimited makeup classes.


How to Pitch Makeup Music Classes

It’s not even a makeup class. It’s a class that you can take as a makeup lesson. Kids learn how to play as a group. You can have 2 kids on piano and a guitarist show up and they work on playing as a group. You can sign up for these whenever you can’t make a lesson. If your child really enjoys the class, she can show up for free, whenever she wants


The group makeup classes were divided up by age. So let’s say ages six to eight would be on the first Wednesday of the month. The parent would just go online and place their child in whatever class fit their schedule and their child’s age.


Putting an End to Rescheduling Headaches 

This new program eliminated the whole challenge and the whole problem of makeup music lessons. The teacher isn’t necessarily going to be their child’s private music teacher. It’s going to be somebody else. The staff had a way of selling that, “this is a great way for your child to work with another one of our music teachers in the small group. The class is going to provide your child with a musical experience that they just can’t have in the private lesson.


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