Do you find yourself constantly chasing a mysterious White Rabbit? This rabbit is all too familiar  with his ticking timepiece saying,  “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.” You have been trying your best to keep up with the rabbit, but find yourself  confused about what the date  actually is. You had thought today was going to be your day off, because it’s Friday. You normally don’t work on Fridays.

However, you find  that today’s date, Friday, has actually become a working day afterall.   You had no idea when you first hung your music studio shingle, that you would be ever falling down a  hole into Makeup Land. As a result, you would be constantly running behind. You never thought you would have to repeatedly work on your day off.

A rather curious thing about Makeup Land is how entirely deceptive a place it is.  Like the Cheshire Cat, makeup lessons appear and reappear constantly. On the outset they look like one thing, but inwardly you know that something doesn’t feel right. Outwardly, they appear like a fair exchange. but they simply aren’t. The client gets to come when it is convenient for them, but you don’t have this same courtesy exchanged back to you.

How did this happen again? Well in order to regulate your income, and be able to budget your money and time, you had set up all of your students to prepay at the beginning of the month. This was in your studio policy. That was a smart thing to do, and generally it works great. The only problem is,  they don’t always  show up at the scheduled lesson.

Something has come up again.  The best of people have a million reasons why they can’t make it again this week. Sometimes their reasons appear reasonable. Johnny is sick. Julie has a basketball game. Trevor has a choir concert. They are going to a family reunion. Or the worst riddle of all, the family has a tragedy like  a funeral.

Once the confusion about missed lessons begins, you are stuck in Makeup Land perpetually with that family. Rabbits have a tendency to multiply, and  so does the confusion.  You find yourself offering makeup lesson to all your studio families at some point. “After all,” you tell yourself, “I am giving make up lessons to the _______ family (Insert  client name).” “I better offer them to _____ family, and heck, I guess all my families. Just to be fair. I want to be fair.”

I hope you bought good running shoes, and have a full water bottle, because you are now chasing the White Rabbit in Makeup Land with every family in your studio forevermore. You are now working every Friday.

You find yourself seated at the Madhatter’s Tea Party.  You are a crazy guest at the table, celebrating a birthday, when it isn’t anyone’s birthday. You are now teaching on a day, that isn’t a teaching day. This is where you start to realize that makeup lessons aren’t really what they appear to be at all.

In reality, the whole concept of makeup lessons is an illusion. It’s simply not real. The trick has been played on you. What I am about to tell you will stop you running after the White Rabbit forever. It will keep you from being another lunatic at the tea party.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: The student didn’t prepay for a lesson at all! What they paid for is a time slot in your schedule. They missed their time slot. Therefore they actually should  forfeit the payment they have made to you. That’s correct! You owe them nothing- they owe you!

The truth is, they don’t pay for lessons. They pay for a time slot in your schedule. Here is the clearest way to understand it: It is just like renting a house. They are renting a time slot in your schedule. Payment is still due whether they go out of town or on vacation.

“But, I don’t want to be heartless,” you say. “My student was sick. My other student was at a funeral!” Getting sick  is a real bummer, and we don’t want them to come sick. That’s a whole other policy for your studio agreement. We care about our students. It’s awful that they have had a tragedy and had to miss because of a funeral.  But you can’t go there.  You can’t let your sympathy  get you riddled and thinking for even a brief moment, that they are paying for a lesson with you. They are not, and if you aren’t thoroughly convinced of this fact yourself, they will believe in the falsehood, simply because it’s better for them.

Remember your own self-care, you  don’t  teach on Fridays! That is your day off. Your day off is sacred. They don’t have access to it. In this one thing you must be like the Queen of Hearts. “Off with your head- Makeup Lessons!”

If you choose to work on your day off, in a so called “Make-up lesson,” your time is completely devalued, and you can never get that full day off back. Its gone.  You will chase the White Rabbit with that family as long as they are a part of your studio. (And all your studio families.) You will always feel that you are under obligation to them. But what of their obligation to you?

You must be certain of the truth of what they are actually paying for. Write it into your policy sheet, have them sign it at the first lesson. If you want a more peaceful and less frantic life, your  studio must  not offer makeup lessons for any reason. If  you don’t take care of this issue at the time of enrollment, and have them agree to it, you are going to be giving up a lot of Fridays.

When your families have agreed to your policy, you are now income and time secure with that family for as long as they are part of your studio. You can rely on the tuition to pay your own actual rent and you will be like all the other working people in the world. You will have a complete day off on your actual day off. This stops you from chasing the relentless White Rabbit. You are now in control. If you want to do something more for them just to be nice, and give customer care, you still can at your convenience. But, never call it a makeup lesson. Erase those two words from your vocabulary.

Now that we have cleared up this illusion, I will write in a follow up post how to offer great customer care- Makeup Land- White Rabbit free. In the meantime, rewrite your policy. Have everyone sign it. You get to take Friday off just like you planned. Say goodbye to makeup lessons, and chasing the White Rabbit forever. They aren’t real, and they never existed anyway. Enjoy your day off!