Phone inquiries - do's and dont's - Inquiries from prospective students

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Postby Stretto » Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:46 pm

I had an ad just come out this month in the yellow pages and got my first phone call the other day. I also got a phone call recently from another set of flyers a homeschooling organzation was handing out. These phone inquiries made me feel like I was a little rusty and out of practice on preparedness with information and "selling" qualities leaving me questioning afterwards if there's anything I could have done differently.

What are some do's and dont's for a piano teacher in handling inquiries over the phone?

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Postby jenscott90 » Mon Jun 18, 2007 7:39 am

I would say do keep in mind you are also interviewing them, or screening them, to find out where they are in their search for a teacher. I've been doing this off and on lately as word of mouth reaches different parents and they call to ask about lessons, so here are the questions I usually ask:

1) How did you discover my teaching studio? ( I also occasionally advertise in the local paper.)

2) What is the age of the person interested in lessons?(I always want to leave room for the possibility that the parent can take a lesson, as well.)

3) Do you have a piano of your own right now? (I discourage using just a keyboard and have information available where they can rent a digital piano locally.)

4) How many other activities is the person involved in? Would 60 -90 minutes of weekly practice time to start with be feasible with your current schedule?

5) Does the student have any special abilities or learning differences? (I have a degree in special education, so this helps me make allowances for differences in ability levels.)

I also give out my website address and ask them to read the studio policy and teaching philosophy carefully before they come for the first lesson, so we are all on the same page with regard to lesson fees, payments, makeups and the atmosphere in my studio.

I usually counsel them to count on the first lesson taking more than just a half hour, but I only charge $10 for that lesson, even if I run over. I feel I need the freedom with that first lesson to explore the understanding and learning style of that child and tell the parent just that. I think it helps them feel that I genuinely care about that child learning, not just starting them in a program.

Don'ts: Well, gosh, I guess I would have to say, don't talk lesson fees right up front unless that is the first question they ask. If that is what they ask, don't skirt the issue. Price could be a deal breaker for a single parent or a family on a strict budget and asking that may be what they need to do in order to save face and your time explaining everything. If they know you charge $15 a half hour and do weekly lessons, they may quickly calculate that they don't have that money at this time. Besides, piano costs are rarely just the lesson money. Books and getting a piano of some kind, having it tuned or renting a digital all can add up very quickly.

Don't get tied up explaining everything you do and why over the phone. Ask them to schedule 45 minutes to an hour for the first lesson and let them know you will have all the information at that time. DO briefly let them know about books, whether you will provide them and at what cost, or if they have to go get them. I am using an internet source for my piano books and it allows me to have my students register with my teacher code, so I have a list of all students, can organize what my studio schedule is on that site and can make a list of the books they need to buy. Then, I just email the parents that they need to order the books on the list about 2 weeks before they need them and they are delivered to their home. I don't even have to touch them, and I still get to pick them out! :)

Oh one more DO: Do thank them for their call, even if it is a "not right now", and don't hesitate to ask them to mention your name to anyone they know who might also be interested. You never know where your next student might come from!

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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:19 am

Thanks, Jen, for a generous dose of really helpful information!

Bill L.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby Stretto » Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:35 am

Thanks so much for taking time to write out a list of questions you ask! It sounds like you are very organized!
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:59 am

Just thought I'd give my input ... recalling times when I was shopping around for a teacher and a few things put me off ...

1. One teacher I called didnt even tell me her name till after the first lesson when I asked for her name! ... make sure you've introduced yourself! ... and ask for the caller's name...

2. Get the ball rolling ... the person is calling for lessons from YOU ... so dont just say "yes" ... and let them talk you talk ... welcome the person on the other line to the conversation ... ask them something ... like what Jen Scott said... I was asked: Where are you calling from? then
Have you taken piano lessons before?
(with other teachers)
What is your current level?
Where are your goals with the piano?
How long have you taken lessons for?

3. Show personal interest ... what type of music does he/she like ... any good concerts ... ?

4. Touch a bit on your method and philosophy and approach (not a full detailed speech though) ... mention your fee ... take their name and number ... and thank them for calling ... or say "look forward to hearing from you"...

... After a few calls of certain teachers ... I found those to be effective ... I declined the ones that made me do the talking ... hate awkard silences! Also the ones that didnt seem to sound like a teacher teaching for the passion rather just there for the job ...

I am no teacher myself ... just giving my opinoun after calling a number of teachers!
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