When it comes time to making more money, most guitar teachers have two options:
- Enrol more students.
- Increase your guitar lesson prices.
The fastest thing to do is to simply increase the prices your current students are paying, and in theory, it’s easy to do.
It’s simple, right? All we do is send out an email saying that tuition costs will be increasing from date x and the student pays us more money and everybody is happy…
But it’s not that simple, is it? Your mind gets flooded with worry and doubts:
- What if all of my students quit?
- What if I become too expensive for new students and nobody signs up?
- What if I lose some of my favourite students because I priced myself too high?
Rather than taking a simple action that will result in a direct benefit for us, and an indirect benefit for our students, we put it off, procrastinate on it, and don’t make any changes. Instead, we choose to suffer in silence and sacrifice what’s better for us.
We’ve all felt this way. But ultimately, we need to do what is better for us. So let’s take a mindset shift:
If you make more money, you can have a higher standard of living.
If you have a higher standard of living you become a better, happier and healthier person.
When you are better, your students benefit from learning with a better version of you!
So even if your students pay a little bit more for the same amount of time, the quality of that time becomes better.
You’ll also realise that when you raise your prices, a lot of your headaches go away. Do you really want to spend your time teaching someone who kicks up a stink about prices going from $20 to $21 lessons when you could just replace them with somebody paying you $30, $50 or even $100 per lesson?
Imagine how much better your life would be right now if every student you had paid you $10 more per week? What about $20 more per week? What about $50 more per week?
Look, you’re not going to be able to keep everyone. And some people won’t be able to afford $50, but there are a lot of people who will. When you realise this and stop holding onto the bad clients because you need their money, you’ll quickly find yourself in a better position to offer a discount to a long time student or a pensioner who really needs it. You can wave goodbye to Karen who cancels every second lesson last-minute, yet demands and feels entitled to a makeup credit.
So I know it’s tough, but sell yourself on how much better life is going to be for you, because ultimately, if you’re not in a good position yourself, then your students won’t get the best from you.
Now that we’ve got our mindset shift out of the way, I want you to think about what price you would actually like to charge for lessons. Write it down on a piece of paper.
Related: TC255: Part Two: Teaching Guitar the 80/20 Pareto Principle with Michael Gumley
Now I hope you wrote down a number that you want for lessons, not a number that you hope students will pay. It’s very important that you charge what you think you’re worth and lose any fear of losing students over your price and work for less than what you’re worth. Remember that you’ve probably put 10,000 hours and thousands of dollars into mastering your instrument and teaching skills, you deserve to be paid as much as other professionals.
5 Ways to Increase Guitar Lesson Prices without Losing Students
These are five ways you can effectively increase the cost of guitar lessons without losing all your students in the process.
1. Increase Your Guitar Lesson Prices for All New Students Starting Immediately
Starting today all new students pay the new guitar lesson price that you wrote down on your piece of paper earlier. No backsies!
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Don’t worry about students being scared away by the higher price. If they don’t know the old price, they don’t have a comparison to complain about.
Related: 10 Ways to Get More Guitar Students
2. Have a Fixed Annual Tuition Price Increase
Write into your lesson policy that your tuition fees will increase by a small amount every year (I like to say 2% so it keeps up with inflation). Talk new families through this in the intro lesson.
Then send families an email 30 days in advance of the update with a heads up of upcoming pricing. This way people expect an increase every year. If they complain, you can avoid an argument by reminding them that they agreed to it in the intro lesson.
Lastly, if you’re doing a great job with your lessons, people won’t blink at a small annual price increase.
3. Have an Annual Registration and/or Materials Fee
Having a signup fee in their first guitar lesson to cover the cost of some materials, photocopying and utilities is something you should implement straight away. Write it into your guitar lesson policy that it’s charged as an annual levy so that your students help contribute to your running costs. They usually do this with their schools and other memberships so it’s perfectly reasonable for them to do it at your music school, too.
4. Raise Guitar Lesson Prices for Your Current Students
Here is the big scary one.
You need to call all of your current students and inform them of the guitar lesson price increase and the reasons why it is happening. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that:
- 60% of your students are happy to pay more
- 20% of students wish they didn’t have to pay but know it’s perfectly reasonable
- 10% of families love you so much that they would probably pay double had you of asked
- and 10% are going to drop off
This is perfectly okay because you’re going to replace them with people ready to pay the new tuition rates anyway.
5. Sell Books or Products
My last tip is a super easy one that can make you anywhere from a little bit of extra money on the side right up to tens of thousands of extra dollars if you have a large studio and lots of students. Make students purchase a method book when they sign up and every time they complete their book and are ready for the next one. Organise with your local music store a bulk deal or special rate so you can buy cheap and sell to make a profit. Don’t just stop with books, have a small inventory of guitar picks, strings, capos and even beginner guitars which you can sell to students on an as-needed basis. While this technically isn’t raising guitar lesson prices, it’s still allowing you to make more money per student with minimal effort.
Still Not Convinced to Raise Your Guitar Lesson Prices?
Now just in case, you’re not sold on the idea of raising prices and might still be concerned about losing students, let me pitch you a hypothetical scenario:
Let’s say you have 10 students paying you $20 per hour. You increase your prices from $20 to $25. Two students now quit. So you’re losing $40 from the two quitters.
On the other hand, the extra $40 you make from the other 8 people covers your loss. You’re making the same amount of money for 25% less work.
And then you go and signup two new students for those empty time slots and you’re now making $50 more per shift for the same amount of teaching time.
Related: Keep Your Guitar Students from Quitting with 6 Steps for Better Results
Even if you had 30 students paying for $30 per lesson and you upped your rates to $40 and 10 people quit:
- 30 people paying you $30 is $900 per week, teaching 30 hours
- You up your rates to $40 and 10 people quit, losing you $300
- The 20 people that stay on are paying you $800 per week now, so you’ve lost $100 per week but you’ve gained 10 hours.
- If you go out and get 10 more students to fill those slots, then you earn an additional $400, bringing your total up from $900 to $1,200 per week, which is a 33% pay increase!
These hypotheticals have also been on small $10 increases. If you’re making more significant increases, the take home money only ever goes up. So unless you’ve got less than 5 students or you’re making unreasonable price increases for people who would never have had the capacity to pay those amounts anyway, there is no way you can lose!
Conclusion on how to raise guitar lesson prices
If you implement just one of these five ideas, you’ll be able to start bringing in more revenue right away into your guitar program.
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Great article! I teach piano, but have been considering increasing my rates for some time, but covid came. I was able to raise rates for my new students last fall, and planned to increase rates for my returning students for the fall to keep the rates consistent over everyone. But the economy right now is so bad, I’m concerned with push-back for even a $5 increase per lesson. Any thoughts or recommendations?