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#2075989 - 05/02/13 03:26 PM Any tips for fielding new phone calls  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,069
Candywoman Offline
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Candywoman  Offline
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At this time of year people start phoning about lessons. My phone answering skills may need a spruce up.

A mother called and asked me to tell me about myself and my method. Usually,I avoid a long story and try to turn the conversation around to their children and their needs. But I ended up saying too much, I think.

Anyhow, she found a way to end the call (we're checking out a bunch of teachers), and I was left thinking:
either I'm too expensive for her, or she didn't like that I don't teach her desired book (Bastien).

Anyhow, in the past, I've found that it's most important on the first call to avoid making errors. You don't need to say anything brilliant, just nothing stupid.

Do you have any suggestions for the first phone call?

Also, do you volunteer your price or wait til they ask?
Thank you in advance.

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#2076018 - 05/02/13 04:16 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: May 2011
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bzpiano Offline
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bzpiano  Offline
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Irvine, CA
Hi Candy:
Can you have a sign up sheet at your website, then you can call them to schedule an interview.

Keep initial conversation short and to the point of....

"Let's talk about this when we meet, when can you come for the first free interview so that I can evaluate your child and you can evaluate me as a teacher?"

Originally Posted by Candy
to tell me about myself and my method

This should be on your website already

Originally Posted by Candy
to turn the conversation around to their children and their needs


New student's goals and needs should be included in the online sign up sheet, but not to discuss in phone.


Originally Posted by Candy
do you volunteer your price or wait til they ask?

Your price should be on your website too. If it is too expansive for some parents, they should not bother to sign up the form for free interview or call you. Easy for you.

This is my sign up link http://bit.ly/EZSignUp, you can take a look.

Basically there are two types of parents in my studio:
Type A: They will sign up this sign up form without calling me, then we will meet then about 80% of this group will sign up lesson with me.

Type B: They will call first, I will keep the conversation short and sweet, then ask them to text their email address to my phone. Then I will forward this link to them to sign up to receive a free interview. Only 20% of this group will eventually becoming my clients.

of course this is just my experience.


Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Follow my 4YO student here: http://bit.ly/FollowMeiY
#2076019 - 05/02/13 04:18 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Oct 2005
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Chris H. Offline
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Chris H.  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2005
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UK.
Do you have a website?

I find it really useful to be able to refer people to my website where they can read all about me, my methods and policies as well as lesson fees. It's so much more efficient than going through it over the phone. That way I can ask them about their needs, talk briefly about my availability and if the basics match up they can go away and read the website before deciding to call me back or not.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#2076020 - 05/02/13 04:20 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Oct 2005
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Chris H. Offline
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Chris H.  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,919
UK.
Ha ezpiano beat me to it!


Pianist and piano teacher.
#2076029 - 05/02/13 04:36 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 57
pianoSD Offline
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pianoSD  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 57
San Diego, CA
I agree with ezpiano and Chris that you need a website. Your website should answer all the questions that a potential student/parent would have about you. Put yourself in their shoes to answer those questions. Create a website or use a free service like the one I use in my signature line below.

For the first telephone conversation, approach it as if they are definitely going to book lessons with you. Since they are calling you, they already know about you and your qualifications (because of your website or word or mouth). So focus on the student and their goals/objectives. Don't ask "Do you want to schedule the first lesson?" Instead, say "Let's setup the first lesson. It's free, and we can then create a more effective plan." In other words, don't give them an opportunity to "opt-out" or say "I'll call you back." Close the deal as if you were a salesperson.

Also, its important to note that I am an outgoing person. This approach may not be effective for those who aren't comfortable with this type of "aggressiveness," but it works for me. smile

#2076038 - 05/02/13 04:51 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: May 2009
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ten left thumbs Offline
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ten left thumbs  Offline
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Joined: May 2009
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Scotland
I have a website, but I do like chatting on the phone - you get a personal touch not available online. It is reasonable for parents to ask questions on the phone, even if the info is on the site.

Trouble with calls is sometimes I'm ready for it, sometimes I'm not and I never know when they're coming. So it's probably good to have quick answers to hand to common questions, like preparing for a job interview.

Candy - don't beat yourself up, maybe they just weren't right for you.

I am happy to chat on the phone, as long as it is a convenient time for me. If they want to meet, I would charge them for that. So there are different ways of handling it.

#2076139 - 05/02/13 08:13 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Nov 2006
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Stanny Offline
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Stanny  Offline
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It's great to chat on the phone, but if you eliminate those folks who aren't a good fit after reading your policy, you'l save a great deal of time. A good website will give a professional good impression and do some of that work for you before you even speak to a prospective client.

I like the idea of a form you can have in front of you when you have the phone conversation. Go ahead and write out a paragraph about yourself so you can read it and not forget something or get too wordy. Then have a list of questions to ask them. They don't have to know you have cheat notes in front of you!


~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA
#2076141 - 05/02/13 08:18 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 57
catpiano Offline
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catpiano  Offline
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I screen all calls. I'm not a huge phone talker and listening to a voicemail first helps me prepare what I'm going to say. It's perfectly ok to do this.

I volunteer my price, usually toward the end of the conversation, if they don't ask.

I've found that most people who say things like "we're shopping around for teachers" usually never call back, for whatever reason. (And a huge UGH to a parent who has a "desired lesson book.")

#2076159 - 05/02/13 08:46 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 177
red-rose Offline
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Cleveland, OH
I'm confused about the "desired lesson book." Are these students who have never taken lessons before, and the parents have already decided that they will use a certain lesson book? Or are people saying that if a student is in the middle of a lesson book, they (the teacher) simply won't teach from it and will require the student to buy a brand new lesson book of the teacher's choosing? If it's the former, well, that's rather odd. But if it's the latter... I'm going to empathize with the parent. I can see how it would be annoying to spend basically the cost of an entire lesson to buy new books, only to discover a few months or even weeks later that for whatever reason you don't like the new teacher.

When I start a new student, I WANT to make it convenient for them - I WANT them to like me and to have to do minimal "extra" things to transfer a teacher. I'm confused why the teacher wouldn't just deal with the old/current lesson book for the remainder of it, or at least until both the teacher and the student were comfortable with the new teaching arrangement, and felt it had real potential, and *then* had the student switch to a new method book.

I'm thinking all this through regarding the original question, because I don't know about other people on here, but I am rather *desperate* for new students! (I mean, not literally, but I definitely don't have a waiting list {I'm new in the area,} and I'd love anyone I can get!) When I have my first phone call with a parent, I'm more interested in finding out what THEY want, since I really think I'm a good enough teacher that I can adjust my teaching to their needs and desires. If they want to continue with their current method book... great! I can do that! (At least until a later time when I would be able to convince them to switch, and they trust me enough at that point to do so.)

So, I've never had a problem saying *too* much on the phone, since it's more about them, and I'm more just listening to what they're looking for, whether it be their concerns about their previous teacher, or how inflexible their schedule is, etc. But I definitely say my price right off the bat. No point in wasting my time or their time if they were hoping to find something for half as much!

#2076233 - 05/02/13 10:10 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Apr 2009
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malkin Offline
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malkin  Offline
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*sigh* Salt Lake City
I hate the phone.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2076313 - 05/02/13 11:40 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,013
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Peter K. Mose  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,013
Toronto, Ontario
Candygirl, I have a feeling your phone manner with potential students or parents is just fine. Don't change it much, except that when you hear little Sally is using the Bastien method, when you strongly dislike the Bastien method, you can still smile sweetly, so to speak, over the horn. The goal is to get mom and Sally into your studio for a get-acquainted session, regardless what materials Sally is now using.

But if a phoning parent admits she is "checking out a bunch of teachers," however, you'll often feel dismayed after one of these calls. You may start to doubt yourself, even though you shouldn't. It's hard to be a clueless parent shopping for a new piano teacher. If it's any consolation, a handful of other piano teachers in your locale will be feeling equally lousy.

Just be yourself. But yes, I would mention your rates on the phone.


#2076364 - 05/03/13 12:40 AM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 221
MomOfBeginners Offline
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MomOfBeginners  Offline
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California, USA
Originally Posted by Candywoman


A mother called and asked me to tell me about myself and my method. Usually,I avoid a long story and try to turn the conversation around to their children and their needs. But I ended up saying too much, I think.


I'm not a piano teacher. I'm a parent.

During my teacher search, I chatted on the phone for 15 minutes with piano teachers to find out their philosophy, how easily they communicate, how friendly they sound, how well they get a point across, etc.

You mention that you try to turn the conversation around and you talked too much, implying that you don't want to reveal too much information over the phone about yourself. I'm wondering - what is your concern? To me as an inquiring parent, that first phone conversation was very important before either of us determined whether or not it was worth a face to face visit. What is the hesitation over revealing too much information?




Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners
#2076377 - 05/03/13 01:21 AM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Aug 2007
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AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,205
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Candywoman
or she didn't like that I don't teach her desired book (Bastien).

I once had a parent who came to me with a box of her old John Thompson books, which she used decades ago to learn piano. She was so cheap, she refused to buy other books. Guess how long her daughter lasted in lessons?

I might start screening out students who come with hand-me-down piano books.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#2077417 - 05/04/13 11:09 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Stanny]  
Joined: Apr 2009
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Barb860 Offline
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Barb860  Offline
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northern California
Originally Posted by Stanny
It's great to chat on the phone, but if you eliminate those folks who aren't a good fit after reading your policy, you'l save a great deal of time. A good website will give a professional good impression and do some of that work for you before you even speak to a prospective client.

I like the idea of a form you can have in front of you when you have the phone conversation. Go ahead and write out a paragraph about yourself so you can read it and not forget something or get too wordy. Then have a list of questions to ask them. They don't have to know you have cheat notes in front of you!


Great idea to have a form in front of you when taking the phone call.

Do you ever get calls from other teachers who are pretending to be parents of prospective students, just fishing for info? I don't know why people can't just be honest about who they are when they call.


Piano Teacher
#2077447 - 05/05/13 12:48 AM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Candywoman]  
Joined: Jul 2003
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Candywoman Offline
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Candywoman  Offline
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Posts: 1,069
My usual tact when dealing with other methods is to hear what they've done, maybe teach one more piece in the book, and then re-route. I think developing a collection of music is part of the fun of lessons, and encourage it.

What irks me about this type of phone call is that the parent doesn't give me a fair chance to explain. But I know that they have to narrow their search to one teacher. I just wish the narrowing involved a logical method.

MomofBeginners: I wanted to explain more, but she'd heard whatever she needed to to decide.

I don't want to have a website. But I like the idea of selling the first interview, and of writing down a few pointers.
Thanks!

#2077925 - 05/05/13 09:50 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: Barb860]  
Joined: Apr 2013
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red-rose Offline
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red-rose  Offline
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Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted by Barb860

Do you ever get calls from other teachers who are pretending to be parents of prospective students, just fishing for info? I don't know why people can't just be honest about who they are when they call.

How would you ever find out that's what they were doing? Do they admit it at some point? Or do you recognize their voice? Or find out some other way?

#2077956 - 05/05/13 10:41 PM Re: Any tips for fielding new phone calls [Re: red-rose]  
Joined: Mar 2013
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Polyphonist Online content
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Polyphonist  Online Content
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New York City
Originally Posted by red-rose
Originally Posted by Barb860

Do you ever get calls from other teachers who are pretending to be parents of prospective students, just fishing for info? I don't know why people can't just be honest about who they are when they call.

How would you ever find out that's what they were doing? Do they admit it at some point? Or do you recognize their voice? Or find out some other way?

Good point, but I think he was describing a hypothetical situation and not something that had happened to him.


Regards,

Polyphonist

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