Monday Mailbag – Billing and Payments

How do you deal with payments?  I’ve been billing my students on the last week of the month, for the next month.  Seems quite backwards, but I’m not sure how to do this!  Do you do postdated cheques?  Some teachers find that works well, but what if the student misses a lesson?  Please just give me some ideas here, and tell me what works for you and why!

Over the years I’ve tried several different approaches and have now been using the same approach (which I love!) for several years. First of all, if you have not checked out Music Teacher’s Helper, you absolutely MUST do so! I’ve been using it now for about two years and it saves me so much of the time and headaches that were formerly a part of my bookkeeping efforts. MTH automatically bills families on the date you choose, allows you to set up a separate access code for each family so that they can check their payment record, amount due, etc. at any time, allows for on-line payment via credit card, and so much more! (You can read Review One and Review Two for more info.)

Anyway…on to a few specifics on how I handle billing. I charge a flat monthly rate that includes the weekly lesson plus all group classes and recitals. This amount is due at the first lesson of the month and is the same regardless of the number of lessons that month. I disseminate a calendar at the beginning of the school year indicating what weeks I will be teaching for the fall and spring semesters, plus I reserve the option of taking one additional week off each semester, if necessary. There are no refunds for missed lessons, but if possible I will offer a make-up lesson.

A handful of my studio families pay on-line, but most pay by check. I have heard of teachers allowing “postdated cheques,” but I think that is primarily a Canadian practice (at least I’ve never known any teachers in our area to use that approach). There are many different ways to handle payments (and hopefully some others will chime in with ideas!), but the key is to figure out what will work the best for you and your studio families. In my mind, the primary goal is to increase efficiency, streamline the process as much as possible, and provide great value for my students so that they always feel like they are getting their money’s worth!

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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