5 Essential Strategies to Grow Your Lessons

At 2018 Summer NAMM, Melissa Loggins of Music Authority shared her strategies for lesson program growth. Music Authority grew from 475 students in 2016 to 578 students in two years. Coupled with her mantra, “Let’s find a way,” these creative strategies keep her lesson program full and continuing to expand.

Here’s how she did it. (Watch the full video for details).

1. Build Relationships
Your customers want a friend in the music business—that’s you. They’re more likely to buy from someone they trust and have a relationship with. They will come to you with questions and concerns, and ask your advice. Loggins shared that when she first started tracking Music Authority’s lessons, average student retention was three months. She changed their program, and average student is now five to seven years—and that number continues to grow. Her expectation is that it will soon be 10 years as the program expands and she continues to sign up students in elementary school, who stay with Music Authority until high school graduation and beyond.

Different ways they build relationships include:

Rock band program. Music Authority takes students and bands to local events in the community. Loggins’ job at these events is to talk with as many people as possible.

Service projects. Music Authority participates multiple service projects, such as the local Easter Egg Stuffing, which gives candy to underprivileged kids and other organizations. Through these projects, Music Authority is teaching its students how to care for the community and is partnering with organizations to give back.

Outside activities. Free Concerts in the Park, sponsored by the city, is an opportunity to build store relationships. Music Authority’s brand for this event is Music Authority Family, and it makes a difference to the staff and the business, according to Loggins.

2. Perform
Loggins emphasized that if you’re not having students perform, you’re not showing parents and students what you can do. Performances put kids on stage and help build their confidence. She recommended classical and rock recitals with music that’s achievable by everyone in a lesson program.

Loggins pays for professional photographers for many of her shows. She then posts the photos to social media, and the posts get shared. Music Authority also hosts a small Spring Break Camp when no one else is doing one.

3. Provide Quantifiable Progress
Parents want to know that you’re providing a quantifiable service. Loggins’ lesson program uses books to let parents know their kids are making progress.

In-house level system. There are eight levels with any instrument. At the end of each level, students get a certificate, and their names are posted to the Music Authority Facebook site, along with all the other students who’ve passed their levels.

Juries and testing. When students finish a book, they sit with someone who isn’t their usual teacher. They play a song from memory, sight-read and take a written test before they can pass their level.

Performance requirement. Students cannot pass a level unless they perform onstage. Loggins commented that the sooner you get students on stage, the less stage fright they develop. The youngest performer in her program was 5.

4. Don’t Skimp on the Front Desk Staff
Loggins’ front desk staff are the largest portion of her payroll. They are the store’s line of defense and are usually the first people parents talk with about their children. The front desk’s job is to interface with parents and let Loggins know about any issues. She receives a daily email from them letting her know of any issues that came up and what needs to be handled.

5. Owners, Be Visible!
Loggins shared that for a long time, she sat in her office with the door closed. She learned that as an owner, she was also visible in the community and needed to talk with customers, parents and students in and out of the store. Loggins stated that when you develop relationships through your store, people look at you as their leader. They’re depending on you, and you have to live that. She admitted that she’s always representing Music Authority when she is out in the community.

Actions Speak Louder Than Advertisements
Investing in your most valuable asset—your customers, students, staff and families—will have the largest return of any of your tasks. “When I invest in families, families invest in us,” Loggins said. She and her team take all kids (the ones no one else will teach) and embrace them. Loggins also embraced the Music Authority Roadies, a non-profit group of volunteer women who handle all of the special events and philanthropic projects. Loggins related that it was their idea to form this volunteer organization—all because she invested in them.