The topic of enforcing studio policies comes up a lot.
I hold to the idea that sticking to a policy is a good and necessary thing. (Even if the idea of doing so makes us squirm at times!)
I even teach a popular webinar on the topic on how to do this gracefully!
But really, avoiding policy enforcement is my ultimate goal, too.
By “avoiding,” I don’t mean caving to every request or demand from a parent. I mean building strong relationships with studio parents so they don’t want to break or ask for exceptions to policies!
3 Ways to Build Strong Parent-Teacher Relationships
I have incredible families in my studio and I actively work to maintain those relationships. Here are some of the ways I strengthen that bond, specifically with studio parents:
1. Take an interest in them
In the very first meeting or phone call with a parent, I try to connect with them on something other than their child or piano lessons.
They already know that I’m a piano teacher, so when a moment presents itself, I’ll just say “Tell me about you! How do you spend your time when you’re not bringing kids to piano lessons?”
I’ve crafted this question carefully so it doesn’t carry unintended judgement. It’s open-ended enough so a working parent, stay-at-home parent, or unemployed parent can answer it without sharing more than they want to.
2. Communicate when unnecessary
As business owners, there will always be fires we can fight and it’s easy to only communicate when there’s a problem (Sophie’s not practicing…, the tuition payment is a week late…). This communication is, obviously, not great for relationship-building.
Make it a point to communicate when things are going well, too!
A simple text saying “Susie had a FANTASTIC lesson today!” or a note along with their payment receipt saying “You are always so prompt with your payments. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate that.” can be incredibly powerful.
3. Not just business as usual
A few weeks ago a piano parent sent me an email about a Harry Potter electronics kit. I was so excited. Not just because it’s Harry Potter (!!) and electronics (!!), but because the parent sees me as more than their child’s piano teacher. We have a relationship where they can send me something about one of our shared interests, even when it has absolutely nothing to do with their child’s lessons.
When local events, YouTube videos, or articles come across my radar that make me think of a studio parent, I take 30 seconds and send them a text or email about it. This little act does wonders to open the lines of communication!
It sounds cliché, but communicating well is a crazy effective strategy for avoiding the need to enforce a policy. Any time spent proactively building relationships with studio families is worth it. Students are happier, they stay around longer, and they tell their friends.
If you’re in a situation where you have to be strict about your policy, even that can be done in a way that builds the relationship, rather than destroying it.
Registration is open for my next webinar on this topic, which will be held Sept. 5, 2018!