Music retailers with successful lesson programs often credit their teachers, for good reason. At 2014 Summer NAMM, Gayle Beacock, co-owner of Beacock Music and NAMM’s 2013 Dealer of the Year, paid special homage to instructors in her lesson program. “We’re nothing without our teachers,” she said.
Beacock’s high-energy session, “Music Lessons: How to Keep Your Best Teachers,” featured tips and guidelines for building a successful lesson program—one that attracts and keeps great teachers. (Beacock Music currently has more than 1,300 students per week in its program.)
Highlights from the video:
Teachers are on the payroll. At Beacock Music, students are automatically billed and pay a monthly fee, which gets split with the teachers. Schedules are printed for each teacher, and teachers have to take roll call. No refunds are given to students who miss a lesson, so teachers get paid either way and can count on a consistent income.
Respect your teachers. Beacock said she wants the best teachers, and her company supports them by providing business cards, name plates, name tags, a consistent flow of students and a good place to come to work every day. She suggested that you include teacher bios and a short video of teachers talking about themselves on your website. “Treat your teachers like gold, and they’ll respond in kind,” Gayle said. She also suggested letting teachers go if they don’t hold onto students. This suggests an inability to establish rapport.
Pay attention to your lessons space. Beacock’s lesson studios are cleaned and picked up every day, and she emphasized that it’s worth the effort. Nightly studio checks have become part of the company’s closing procedure, so students and teachers always arrive at clean studios the next day. “It’s the little things that you do that make a difference,” Gayle said.
Use auto-billing. This keeps staff from getting bogged down in details. Beacock Music has a customized electronic payments system that includes staff, teacher and student accounts, and also accommodates substitute teachers. The company’s instructors are paid twice a week, and every student must have a credit card on file for monthly auto-pay. This way, teachers don’t have to worry about billing and tracking, and they can focus on what they do best: teaching.
Keep your teachers’ student flow full. Beacock’s education center strives for a constant flow of students. “We don’t assume anyone’s quitting in the summer,” Beacock said. Students are told that their spots will be held, and they continue to get billed. All teachers are required to have their students perform twice a year. This helps keep kids in the program. Beacock Music also provides different summer workshops and classes that are designed to keep students playing. Students can go to these programs for free, and their friends pay just $5—a great summer promotion.
“On our end of it, we’re always pitching our lessons program,” Beacock said. “Our goal is to have everyone playing and enjoying music, and if they’re happy, then it’s working.”
Beacock Music’s team has worked hard to make the store a community hub. Teachers have high expectations placed upon them, and Beacock said she believes discipline and a success-oriented culture is where great teachers, students and everyone thrives and succeeds.