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#935035 - 10/22/05 11:04 PM charging on a sliding scale
Candywoman Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 1046
Has anyone tried pricing on a sliding scale? I have some very wealthy clients and also some quite middle class clients who would most likely always be attending the same recitals. Thus far, I've always had one rate based on my time being of a certain value. I would appreciate any input. Thus far, I've thought I should charge extra for exam preparation.

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#935036 - 10/23/05 10:38 AM Re: charging on a sliding scale
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I, too, have a bunch of wealthy clients, and then some middle-class, and other struggling families.

I am going round and round with this one. I supposed I could raise my rates across the board and then pull aside those who needed a break and make a special deal with them. I don't think I could hand out income disclosure materials to my clients....what do I do, say, "Hey, I've got your bill, but first can I see your car?" and if they are driving a Mercedes then I give then a higher bill?
It is a touchy subject. For now I'm sticking with the same rate for everybody. If you figure out a way to do the sliding scale fairly, please share the details!!
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

#935037 - 10/24/05 12:10 PM Re: charging on a sliding scale
WKS70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 186
Loc: GA
In the past, I've had a secret deal with one or two families with tight incomes. However, it didn't take long to discover that it opens a door for all kinds of abuse, even from the nicest people. They don't mean to take advantage of you or your time, it just happens. It's a kind idea, but unless there are some really extraordinary circumstances, I'm not willing to do it anymore. I've discovered that people value what they pay for, and they value YOU based on what you charge and what they believe you deserve. You'll find that when you give a low-priced deal to a "poor" student, the family still spends a fortune on all kinds of entertainment, clothes, etc. Once you give someone a really great deal, you can't hardly go back on your word and say, okay, since you guys can afford to take your kid to the movies and buy expensive clothing, it's time for you to pay me what I deserve. You're stuck.

Just my experience....

#935038 - 10/25/05 09:00 AM Re: charging on a sliding scale
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10780
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
This is always a tough issue.

Suppose there is a market rate in your area for someone with your qualifications. If you can fill all your spots with people who are willing to pay that rate, then having a sliding scale simply takes money out of your pocket. You can do this if you wish, but you know the cost.

I once ran the finances for a small co-op day care center. We had a sliding scale that subsidized people making less than the median national family income. The problem with the scale is that you lose revenue and you can't charge the others MORE than the market rate to make up the lost revenue or they'll jump ship. In my daycare case we were literally taking money out of the pockets of low pay workers to put it into the pockets of people making over 40K per year. Go figure.

How often do you go into a restaurant and get a lower priced meal because you make less than a banker? Is your car, or its gas, priced lower because you're not Bill Gates?

Now, if you CAN'T fill all your spots with full pay customers there is an economic rationale for a sliding scale. If you can divide people into clear groups, and they can't easily deceive you (i.e. to get a discount you have to prove your income is lower by showing a legitimate 1040) then you can increase your income with a sliding scale.

Of course you may not want to go the full proof route and instead just give discounts subjectively. The problem with this is that you're now in the world of customer discontent .... "why is so-and-so special and I'm not!!"

#935039 - 10/25/05 10:48 AM Re: charging on a sliding scale
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Piano Dad
Thank you for yur input...I entertained ideas of a sliding scale but kept coming to the same conclusions you have. I have a soft spot for families who are trying to afford lessons for their children. I do use a program based in our community called "Boundless" and they have scholarship $$ for low-income families to use for things like piano lessons. I have 6 students who receive help from them. It is part of the community foundation, which in my area is well-funded. Are there other programs like this out there?
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

#935040 - 10/25/05 03:12 PM Re: charging on a sliding scale
John Delmore Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 373
Loc: Shreveport, LA
That sounds like a great program to start all over the country, Hobie. Do they have a website, or where can I find more info?
John Delmore
PTG Associate Member
"You don't have a Soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body."...C.S. Lewis
Bienvenue!: http://louisianaskyline.net/forums/index.php?

#935041 - 10/25/05 04:17 PM Re: charging on a sliding scale
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
check your email..I sent you the info
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

#935042 - 10/27/05 11:50 AM Re: charging on a sliding scale
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I have been the beneficiary of a teacher who offered me a reduced fee. When I first started taking clarinet lessons several years ago, there was no way I was able to afford $60 CDN for a one hour lesson. I told my teacher of my situation right away, and he let me take lessons at $40/h. I was always trying to give him referrals as well as simply being a good student. I remember one day he told me he'd rather teach a good student at a reduced fee than a mediocre one at full fees.

I currently have one student who I teach on a reduced fee--but in exchange, they also have to help me with some aspects of my business, like folding brochures, delivering flyers about my lessons in the area they live, and doing my mailings to school music teachers.

Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

#935043 - 10/27/05 11:25 PM Re: charging on a sliding scale
Candywoman Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 1046
Thank you all for the input. I think it's better to keep one price then. Greetings.


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