Block Booking (All Teachers)
Matt asked me to post about this ages ago but I’ve not had the head space to do it. My business runs almost exclusively on block bookings (I teach 20-25 hours a week, about 3-5 of which are paid lesson by lesson). It’s been the key to making my business grow and create security while I pursue other projects alongside teaching. So here are my top tips for getting those block bookings:
1. Understand the benefits of it – block booking isn’t about you getting more money at once. Block booking is really important for the student as well.
It creates a commitment between you and the student to keep them coming back after the initial excitement of the first couple of lessons starts to fade. It focuses the student as the see lessons as more of an investment that they want to get the most out of. If you’re like me, and provide a discount, it helps the student save money. It gives both of you an understanding that we’re in this together for the long haul so it creates a connection between you. It helps both you and them plan their time and their money. It creates routine, and most human beings love routine. If either you or the student takes a break it gives them a reason to come back and not get lost in the ether. There are loads of reasons why block booking is a good idea. If you understand that and have enthusiasm for it, that will make the student excited about doing it too.
2. Communicate it everywhere – my block booking rates are on my personal website, my MGR music website, my Facebook, my Google business page, I talk about it with every potential student in my email communication and any phone calls. Its very rare a new student comes to their first lesson not knowing about my block booking.
3. Ask for it – don’t feel bashful about asking people if they want to block book. If people say no that’s fine, but there is no harm in asking the question. I usually do an initial vocal consultation for new pupils and at the end I talk money with them I tell them all my rates and ask them what they’d like to do. Something I’ve been thinking of trying is asking for an initial block booking and then if they want to switch to lesson by lesson after that block that’s fine. However, I’ve never really seen this as necessary.
4. Be clear about your strategy – are you offering blocks of 4, 5, 10 or some other number of lessons? Whilst I value flexibility I’m always clear that my default block booking is 4 lessons. I only have one pricing rate, even if someone wants to book say 8 lessons. I charge it by the hour then I take £5/hour off. Even in my rare 90 minute lessons, I take that same rate. If you start fiddling with X amount of lessons is Y discount and A amount of lessons is B discount, then things get unnecessarily difficult for you and the student.
5. Make sure you understand how this fits in your budget – I’s rubbish at this. I’ll get a term’s worth of lessons from a school and laugh all the way to bank and spend like a maniac. This can lead to problems later when you are still 6 lessons away from being paid and you burnt through all the money. Don’t block book more lessons than you can be financial responsible for.
6. Be clear about your/the student’s responsibilities – are you going to demand that the block lessons are all in the diary straight away or can the pupil book their time slot week by week? Most of my block bookers take the time slot each week, but for those that are on shift work, it is invaluable to them that although I take the money up front, they get to book the time slots based on when their work schedule comes out. How are you going to handle rescheduling and how does this work with your cancellation policy?
That’s about all I can think of. Feel free to add your own suggestions or ask questions below.