How to Email Your Music Students About a Rate Increase - The Greatest Gig

How to Email Your Music Students About a Rate Increase

OK, you've decided to raise your rates.  Time to email your music students.

You sit at your computer.  Your heart accelerates.  You type a few words, and nausea churns in your gut.  How do you write this without sounding like a douchebag?

And what if it drives away your students?  Could this one email destroy your business?

I felt this way when, in 2013, I raised my rates for the first time in almost ten years, from $80 to $100. Because I was scared and didn't know what I was doing, I wrote a defensive email, citing the economic pressure I was under.  It by no means destroyed my business, but it did cause a bad night's sleep fretting over the students who balked.  It was also a missed opportunity to connect with my students.

I increased my rates again this past week, from $110 to $120 for current students, and it actually felt good to write.  I realized that I've learned a lot since 2013, and I'd like to pass it on to you in this blog post.

I also show you the actual email I write in my totally awesome free download, The Anatomy of a Great Rate Raise Announcement Email.  Download it, print it out, and use it as a guide when you next raise your rates.

Get your free download, The Anatomy of a Great Rate Raise Announcement Email

I can't promise a magic email formula that will have your students begging you to add another 20% to their tuition.  And I can't make this process easy--it never is.  But I can show you how to announce your rate hike with grace, confidence, and a smidge of business savvy.  If you follow my guide, you may still get pushback from some students--nothing can prevent that possibility--but you will also open your students' eyes to the value of your teaching.

Tip 1: Fill your heart with joy

I can't believe I just wrote that heading--I feel like an evangelical preacher--but it's true.  It's easy to spiral into self-pitying justifications when explaining a rate increase.  We pay for medical insurance out of pocket.  We have no medical leave or paid vacations.  I have three young boys who are on a first-name basis with the ER receptionist.  Student loan debt.  Taxes.  

I could sing the Music Teacher Blues all day, and I'll bet you could add another couple verses without trying.

But none of these things will make your students feel any better about your rate increase.  Citing financial pressures in a rate increase email is like convincing someone to date you because if they don't it'll break your heart.  All the Music Teacher Blues does is make students feel guilty about not liking your rate increase.  I didn't go to Harvard Business School, but that sounds like a bad idea.

To write an effective rate increase announcement, you need to get in touch with what makes you a wonderful music teacher.  So I recommend writing it after a great lesson with a student who's thriving and loving your teaching, or after a date with a friend who believes in you.  I also like listening to entrepreneurs like Noah Kagan and Amy Porterfield.  Their confidence is contagious.

Being clear about your mindset about money is also critical to feeling confident while talking about money.  Check out my Friday Live broadcast on Money Mindset.

Tip 2: Show gratitude

Tell your students how much you appreciate their loyalty.  And show it by giving long-time students a discount.  

Tip 3: Remind students of your value

This is the heart and soul of your email, and I won't lie--it's tough to write.  The good news is, the work you do on this now will pay off in every conversation you have with a prospective student.

In business, it's called the elevator pitch or value proposition: A concise, compelling description of the wonderful benefits you offer your students, written in a celebratory tone.

Tip 4: Establish your authority

I don't like talking about my degree from Stanford unless I'm joking about it.  Why?  Because the only thing that set me apart from tons of other qualified applicants to their graduate school was that my parents could afford to pay the tuition.  It's not fair that I should get more recognition than another teacher who busted their butt in a community college program.  I take no more pride in my degree than I do in any other hard work I've done in my life.

But do I mention my degree in a rate increase email?  Hell, yes.  It communicates commitment, an excellent education, and a big student loan bill.

Trumpet your specialties, unique experiences, publications, big performances, or other indicators of authority in the fields of music and education.  You won't sound like a douchebag because unlike a cocktail party, this is the perfect time to tell people what you're worth.

Tip 5: Add a perk

If possible, pair a rate increase with an enhancement to your students' experience, so that they feel like they're getting something in return.  Perhaps you teach young students, and you're thinking about emailing practice instructions to their parents after every lesson.  Now would be a great time to implement your idea (and mention it in the email, of course).


The Anatomy of a Great Rate Raise Email

See the actual email I sent my students in August 2017, with each important part marked and explained.  Print it, pin it to your wall, and use it the next time you raise your rates.