So I've been thinking about my business, lately, what with the economy and everything. And I realized: I'm an idiot.
You know that story about the end of the ham or turkey or something, and the daughter asks the mother why they always cut off the end before they put it in the oven? And then the mother says because that's the way grandma did it, and then they ask grandma, and grandma says she cut off the end because the pan was too short?
Well, about ten or so years ago, I had to convince the local piano students that a typical piano lesson is not, in fact, thirty minutes long. I was met with a lot of skepticism, so I discounted the forty-five minute lessons, and discounted the sixty minute lessons even more, to "prove" that it wasn't that I wanted more money, it was that it was better for the student.
I've raised my rates a couple times since then, but only once since 9/11. (I know, shame on me, stupid, and now it's biting me in the ass. Did I not tell MANY teachers over the years not to do that? Did I not see, time and time again, teachers regret doing that? Yes. But I evidently have to learn the hard way.)
Anyway, when I did raise my rates, I just raised the monthly tuition, rather than breaking down the math and the per-lesson fee.
Well, the other day, I broke it down.
Long story short, now that ALL my students take forty-five minute lessons and a majority take sixty minute lessons, I JUST REALIZED (AFTER EIGHT YEARS!!!!) I'M MAKING TEN PERCENT LESS THAN I WAS WHEN THE ECONOMY WAS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!
(I'm yelling at myself, not you.)
I am SUCH an idiot. I can't believe it. I remember, when I first set the sixty minute price years ago, I heavily discounted it because I had only two students at sixty minutes.
Oh. My. Gawd.
And I used to be good at math. I am completely flummoxed at my stupidity. It would be one thing if I had missed it for ONE year. No: I haven't done the per-lesson calculation for SEVEN YEARS! I just raised the monthly rate.
To make matters worse, I also realized that I have not even MENTIONED that those rates are discounted for ages! So my students are completely unaware that they're getting a huge discount!
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I'm just really astonished at myself.
I really haven't a clue what to do. When I say I discounted the sixty minute lesson heavily, I mean it's by ten percent.
I have, effectively, given myself a TEN PERCENT income decrease over the past five-ten years. So as my students have gotten better and more committed, MY INCOME HAS LOWERED BY TEN PERCENT!!!! No wonder I'm knocking my head against the wall.
I was going to try to connect this to writing. Well, the best I can do is this: if you ever work for yourself, remember to re-think the things you do. If you have a new pan and you're still cutting the end of the ham off, then...
But I'm certain I'm the only one who could be this stupid.
The common practice is to raise rates, no excuses, no need to explain. But I fear blood will be spilt as I raise my rates to what they should be. I don't know. What do you think? Explain? Don't explain?
Have you ever kept cutting off the end of the ham, long after the reason for doing so has passed?