Guitar teachers.... What are you paying in room rent?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by nrandall85, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

    Messages:
    2,255
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I've been teaching out of a music store here in WNY for about two years. Since I've started, there's already been a huge rent hike (it went from $3.50 per lesson to $4.50, and I charge $18 per half hour.)

    The way things are now, students are allowed to cancel with at least 24 hours notice. In the event of a cancellation, I will either make up the lesson or prorate the following months. The same goes for if I get sick. This enables Billy to get to his ballet recital, and Suzie to celebrate Columbus day, etc. Parents are generally good with giving plenty of advance notice if anyone will be away on vacation, etc.

    So, as a result my room rent varies from month to month. I pay per lessons taught, which I have marked on my calendar and calculate into a rent payment each month.

    They issued a letter today stating that they will be using a new system for billing rent. They will charge $4.50 times four weeks in a month per student to the teacher. They suggest that in lieu of allowing a cancellation policy, that I'm to explain to students and parents that they will receive approximately four free lessons per year (five week months) for the flat rate.

    This is troublesome to me. I have a hard enough time collecting a full month's lesson payment from each student as-is. And it seems that under this new system I'll be losing out on a lot of potential income for those five week months.... I'm not crazy about offering up anything I've spent years studying for free either.

    I will now be responsible for "room rent," which I think is exorbitant already, for an entire four weeks per student whether or not I can convince them/their parents to pay me for it.

    Any thoughts? I'm open to any suggestions.... Renting a space of some kind, some kind I persuasive argument, etc.

    Apologies if more clarification is needed.
     
  2. stump

    stump Member

    Messages:
    1,267
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Central Massachusetts
    So you pay the $4.50 per student per week whether you use the room or not, if I'm understanding this correctly. Then they expect you to give free lessons in a five week month? When I taught it was always pay the rental for each block of time used, if the room was not used no rental was expected or paid. Giving any free or extra lessons were at my discretion, the store stayed out of my business as the only deal was renting the room from them. They benefited from any peripheral sales, strings, guitars, etc. and I didn't receive a commission from it. I guess you'll need to find a new place to teach if you can't come to a fair deal with them. Good luck.
     
  3. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,117
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    philadelphia
    I HATED teaching in that type of environment. The store always wants to get all their money, while you are left holding the bag if a student bails on you.

    I always felt this type of teaching is "teaching by the pound". Lots of back-to-back half-hour lessons for hours on end, always feeling like you have to shake-down some soccer mom to get paid.

    My advice would be to try and move all the students to your home. Or you can look around for some space to rent monthly. You may find it is much cheaper overall to just have the key to a space that you can use all the time and create your own schedule. Even if you have less students, you will be able to keep all the money aside from the rent.

    Better yet if you can find a college gig, or private school gig. BTW- 18 is cheap, raise your rates!
     
  4. Baminated

    Baminated Member

    Messages:
    6,503
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Location:
    Pretty F-n Far From Okay
    time to move on . . .
     
  5. screamtone

    screamtone Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,962
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Derby City
    I've been teaching a place where I pay $6.50 per half-hour lesson, and I charge what amounts to $20 per lesson. I don't pay rent on no-shows and cancellations.They used to charge rent for those before I started there, but they don't anymore. They used to have about two more teachers in the place than they had teaching rooms at any given moment. I had to quit teaching on Tuesdays there because I would have to use three different rooms to give eight lessons. One of these was a drum room, next to another drum room. Incredibly noisy and annoying.

    I'm moving everything to a place that charges $200 a month for a private room with 24-hour access that I don't have to share with other teachers. I have my own lock on the door, and have an amp, guitar, and computer that I leave there. Walk in, walk out. No carrying around a folder full of charts and a metronome that I always have to remember to take with me. It's closer to my house and my part-time day gig. I'll probably use the facility for some some light rehearsals late nights and weekends, as well.

    Both of these places are private music schools that aren't affiliated with any music stores. In my experience, this is a way better situation. The focus of the school is attracting students, educating them, and getting people involved in music. Music stores with education departments seem to support lessons just to get traffic in the store and hope that students (or their parents) become loyal customers. When sales are down, they raise the prices on things that they corner the market on, like teaching space.

    BTW, on five-week months, I either take the day off on the fifth week or charge everyone $20 extra that month. I decide, and everyone either pays or has the day off. That way, I don't come in for the two enthusiastic people that don't want to skip a week, but their lessons are at 3pm and 7:30pm. Most of the time, I take the day off. I used to give that fifth week for free, but I had too many people cancel the fifth lesson within my acceptable cancellation period and expect a free make-up lesson.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  6. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

    Messages:
    25,779
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    What do you folk think of this policy ....?

    The local store that keeps bugging me to start teaching there ...
    Takes the whole first month's payment ...
    & then the teacher keeps everything from there on out ...

    That is... if the student renews after the first month...
     
  7. screamtone

    screamtone Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,962
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Derby City
    Let me get this straight... they keep the first months tuition, then you keep everything after that?

    I have a lot of students that have been studying with me for 2-3 years. That doesn't sound that bad, to me.
     
  8. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

    Messages:
    25,779
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    Exactly ...
    Problem is (the way I see it) is that a teacher can give a student enough material
    to work on for several months to study on his own before he comes back ...

    So he doesn't have to renew at the end of the month ...

    One guy I know had about 25 students he taught the first month he was at this store
    (they have a very cool teaching section ... about 10 booths all with windows)
    At the end of his first month only about 9 of them renewed ...

    So at the end of the first month he was presented with about 16 new students who he again...
    taught for free for another month... wasn't going to make a cent from 16 hours a week ...:huh

    So unless you fill up your schedule with renewed students ..
    you'll be putting in a lot of 'free' hours of teaching ...
     
  9. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

    Messages:
    2,255
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I'm getting pretty sick of musicians making a living by ripping off other musicians. It's sickening....

    I've been scouring CL looking for spots to rent, and so far it doesn't look very promising.
     
  10. Steve73

    Steve73 Member

    Messages:
    4,608
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    I teach out of my house and it's great, provided you have a separate space and entrance. I get to keep all the lesson fees and get to claim most of my home expenses/gear for taxes. Doing the taxes is a bit of a pain but it's worth it.

    I realize it isn't a viable option for some teachers though unfortunately.
     
  11. screamtone

    screamtone Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,962
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Derby City
    You don't have to give them that much material at once.

    I've had some students in the past that almost insisted that I cram every second of a lesson with new material. I'd teach them something that I had planned to use for the entire lesson, and once they heard it, they'd say "That's great, now teach me something else." They wanted to get as much from me as they could in a short amount of time. With those students, you can't win, but if you cram them with all the material they ask for, they won't be able to play it at the next lesson (or it will still sound like ****). I'm not interested in that type of student. I'm the teacher, I control the curriculum. Give them something they can prepare (or hopefully master) for the next lesson, and then give them more material.

    If I got to direct the curriculum when I was in high school, all of the classes would have been about how to roll joints and get laid. This is why you can't let students totally direct their course of study. :)
     
  12. 55hz

    55hz Member

    Messages:
    3,309
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Do you book or does the store book? The current "fee" for your room is too high for what you make/charge. Does the store set the overall "lesson fee" or do you? $25 seems to be the going rate for a half-hour...Most places don't get THAT much in your business. If they do, They usually don't mind you raising your rates as long as they get their vig. Other places usually just place a round number on the use of a space (e.g. $100 a month, $200 a month, etc.) Teaching at home erases the authority figure nonsense, but you would be responsible for new students. @Lucidology: I've taught in many areas and haven't heard that method of charging before. Sounds rather slave-like. Also if you stacked up your whole schedule and could keep it that way...those owners would find another way to charge you....
     
  13. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

    Messages:
    2,255
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    They accept calls for new students, which normally amounts to 3-5 new students every six months. I call them back and arrange a lesson time. I end up bringing in more students on my own simply by word of mouth referrals.

    One of my other gripes.... I wouldn't mind paying top dollar for a fully furnished room. One of the rooms they have me in has a cracked window with a tarp over it. I'm constantly making repairs to the amps I need to use. The piano next door is blasting through paper thin walls while meanwhile I'm being asked to keep it down. The temperature fluctuates between freezing in the winter (though they do have space heaters) and sweltering in the summertime (single air conditioner at the end of a hallway of teaching rooms.)

    I'm at a loss. I currently don't have the ability to teach at home. I'm trying to explore all available options, but I don't know what I should even be looking for.

    What type of places/spaces should I be out shopping for?
     
  14. EDS

    EDS Supporting Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    I get charged 3 per lesson from a music store (charging 16.50 per lesson). I also do the flat rate monthly payment with "free" lessons on months with 5 weeks. I like it - i find it just makes things easier. It would be hard to change students over to a new tuition policy though.
     
  15. Crocker

    Crocker Member

    Messages:
    1,079
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    I work out of my own home so I only have to pay myself. Overhead is killer, mortgage, utilities, cleaning supplies, paper/copying, security...but it's the only way to do it and be independent. I keep an accountant between me and Revenue Canada and we claim everything possible.

    I seriously suggest trying to find a combined living and work premises.
     
  16. guitarz1972

    guitarz1972 Member

    Messages:
    4,676
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Location:
    Central KY
    OP, I basically do the same as your place does. I guarantee my students 48 lessons per year. I'll take-off two weeks a year for vacation, and that leaves two weeks built-in for snow days, days I'm sick, etc. Between that and rescheduling students into blank spots as needed, it always works out fine.

    I suggest you consider building your employment around a 48-week schedule, give yourself two weeks off, and just let the remaining two weeks fall as they may. I've had students and parents appreciate the "flat rate" thing for a while; one check per month of the same amount every time, makes it easier on Soccer Mom to remember how much she's in for. And it's easier accounting work for me honestly.

    Your venue takes 4.50 of your 18.00 rate, that's 25% overhead if I did the math right. That's really not too bad IMO. I agree with another poster about raising your prices a bit, I think you're a little underpaid personally.

    Cheers,


    Chris
     
  17. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,580
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Location:
    Seattle
    People can get a lifetime's worth of lessons for free off the internet today. They choose to take actual one-on-one lessons because they are looking for something that "practice material" can't give them. It's up to you to figure out what that is, and provide it.

    I teach out of my home, and the few times I've looked into renting a room at a local music store I've been scared away by their terms. Working at home I get to keep all the money, and all the control. I know not everyone has this option, but for me it's the only option that makes sense.
     
  18. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

    Messages:
    2,255
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    How does this work out with Holidays? I have a hard time getting students to come in for Columbus Day and MLK Day, let alone the two weeks leading up to and following Christmas.

    If I start to drop the five week months, which work out in my favor 75% of the time, I'll still be losing out on over $1000 of income per year (haven't figured out an exact figure.)

    Parents will NOT be happy if I raise my rates AND become less accommodating. I just don't want to lose half of my students over this.
     
  19. guitarz1972

    guitarz1972 Member

    Messages:
    4,676
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Location:
    Central KY
    Actually I need to retract a bit OP. I do in fact take off the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, July 4th and MLK Day (did I leave anything out? just going off quick memory here b/c it's early lol). So students who take lessons on Saturdays and Mondays from me, they get slightly fewer than 48 lessons per year; non-Monday and non-Saturday folks, they actually get 2-3 additional lessons above that 48 number, over the course of a year. I just explain to everyone "that's the way it is." The fact is, most students and parents won't balk if you set your lessons around the same schedule as the public school system.

    I've done that for a few years now, and I've only had one adult student ever to make a fuss over it; I offered her make-up lessons just to appease her, but evidently she was on her way out the door already anyway. Other than that one time, no one makes a big deal about it. Just make sure you're up-front about your yearly or quarterly schedule, and don't waiver from it.
     
  20. acguitar84

    acguitar84 Member

    Messages:
    765
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    I taught out of my home for 11 years, before unfortunate circumstances forced me out of my comfy home teaching studio. I've been teaching at a music store, and oddly enough, I really like it so far.

    When I got to the music store, the store wanted 2 dollars for each lesson. So I raised my rates 2 dollars per student to compensate. Out at the store, it's far easier to recruit new students. Far easier then it was at home. At home, often times, i'd have empty spots for weeks, and weeks would go by without a single phone call inquiring about lessons. I averaged maybe 50 students a week at home. Out at the store, i have 72 on my roster.

    That more then makes up for the rent i pay. I gladly pay it. Back home, i'd be using that money to pay for advertising. I was looking to go that route before relocating to the store.

    Now, when i get back home, i can set up my old teaching studio any way i want to, and not worry about lessons. If i want to have pedals out, ect.

    As far as negotiating with a store, they were going to charge me 3 dollars a lesson, but i negotiated 2 dollars, telling him I would keep my roster full, and not be flaky. The last teacher constantly skipped out on his lessons, students would be waiting for a teacher that didn't show, reflecting poorly on the store itself.

    So it's all good. I would look into raising you rates to cover any rent increase, and if the store is prone to raising rent periodically, maybe you could draft up a lease or something, so you can lock in something.
     

Share This Page