I was wondering if people could give me their opinions on the idea of carrying out an audition/interview with potential clients? I have recently had a few bad situations that have really affected my enjoyment of teaching and I want to try and prevent being in this position again. I would be looking to invite any potential clients (and their parent/s) in for a consultation to find out why they want lessons and to make sure that they are totally committed to learning and that the parents know from the start that I am not just a childminder while they go to the supermarket. Some of the situations I have recently had to deal with:
- Parents coming in and out of the teaching room, back and forth, back and forth, peeking through the gap in the door
- One parent who shouts at her child the whole way through every lesson, repeating everything I say, but ten times louder!
- Clients who constantly cancel or don't turn up
- Clients who turn up 45 minutes early EVERY week, interrupting other clients' lessons
- Parents who drop their young child off one hour early then pick them up 50 minutes after the lesson has finished!
- I hate to say this one, but it really bothers me, one family who turn up (Mum, Dad, four children, Gran and even two cousins once) and, I'm sorry, but they stink really bad! I have to open all the windows after they leave!
- A child who has a SEVERE attitude problem and huffs and puffs at everything I say and hates everything
- Parents who forget to bring money EVERY WEEK!
- Same few clients who turn up, unpracticed, forgot their books, forgot what I asked them to do
- A parent who lets her two other young children run absolute riot around the place whilst I am teaching their sister
- A parent (whom I did give the boot) who would scrutinise every single thing I gave his son to play, questioning why I hadn't given them something else, should they not be 4 grades ahead by now, am I even a musician!!!! (the chap was a doctor and my goodness, he didn't let me forget it!)
- This really isn't anything but two things that really bother me, one adult client who chews gum like a horse the whole lesson and one mother who feels it is ok to turn up and sit in on the lesson with her other daughter, stuffing their faces with McDonald's or crisps and cola then leave their rubbish when they leave.
- And finally, one adult client who plays when I am speaking, plays when I am playing, when I am pointing out things on the sheet music he just keeps playing and doesn't even look up at the sheet
Now, a few things I would like to point out:
- Of course, I want to make money and pay my bills, thus why up until now I have taken on anyone who comes along
- My reasons for wanting to set up interviews is because the issues above are seriously affecting my love for teaching
- I do get the vibe that some clients & parents see me as just another club they can attend to pass the time, I only want people seriously interested in learning
- I want the parents to know that they also have a responsibility in their child's practice and encouragement
- I want there to be an element of respect, I feel eating McDonald's, turning up an hour early and not practicing/not bringing book, well it is just not on (am I being too sensitive?)
- My big worry is that by me advertising my interview process and selecting clients, that it may come across as arrogant and big headed, not only to potential clients, but to other teachers in the area
- I'm also worried that it might backfire in my face and I'll lose a fortune from my income. I don't want it to scare potential clients away
- How do I politely reject the ones whom I don't want to teach without them spreading bad word about my studio to everyone in the community?
Can anyone offer any tips, comments, advice etc on my predicament? I would be very grateful indeed.
p.s. I teach piano and guitar and have taught full time (45 hours per week) for 16 years. One hour price £39, half hour £25. I am VAT registered, so 20% goes straight to HMRC, I also have a teaching studio on a main street to pay for and all the overheads that go with it including a receptionist. All lessons are pay-as-you-go as I feel I would struggle to find enough customers who can afford to pay £390 upfront every 10 weeks.