When Policies Get Too Long: Part 1
How My Policy Became 5 Pages Long:
I remember the first time I wrote a studio policy. It was 2006, and at the time I was teaching at a couple of music stores. They didn’t have any attendance policies, and I was getting tired of losing income almost every day.
The owners were open to me having a slightly stricter policy for my students, and so I typed up a little 1 page document to hand to my families explaining that they needed to give me advanced notice of absences, and that failure to do so would mean that they’d still have to pay for their lesson time. It also included information about basic lesson stuffs (bring your books, practice expectations, my contact info, etc.)
And guess what? For the most part, it worked. Attendance improved. I was paid for most last-minute absences, and I was pretty happy.
Then in 2010, I decided to open my own studio.
That meant I needed a more comprehensive policy. And so my policy went from a 1 page document to a 3 page document. Things that were added included teaching philosophies, lesson descriptions, recital information, teacher background, policies and fees, holiday schedules, make-up lessons, summer lessons, illnesses, and a studio contract.
After all, I was running a business! I wanted alllllll the things covered.
ALL THE THINGS.
Every year I revisited my policy, tweaking this and that: adding sections, taking sections out, and changing policies that didn’t work. Instead of words, I created tables to illustrate things. And the studio contract expanded to include a photo/video release form. Over the past 8 years the policy grew to a whopping 5 pages.
Does that sound familiar to you? Has your policy continually EXPANDED over the years?
- Make up options change… add a new section.
- New lesson offerings… add a new section.
- A client takes advantage of a loophole (aka your graciousness)… add a new section. (And another section. And another section.)
Before you know it, what used to be a simple document ends up being a long patched-together essay that clients will glance at once, sign without reading, and probably never look at again. And can you blame them? No! Would YOU want to read a policy that’s 5 pages long?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
That’s where my current project comes into play.
I’m overhauling my policy.
It’s a project I’ve had in mind for a couple of years, but I just haven’t had the energy to tackle it. Since I’ve put this off for so long now, I’ll admit that I’ve grown a nice big mental block in front of this process. I’m a world champion procrastinator when it comes to projects that don’t inspire me.
Policy overhaul? Yeah. That’s definitely NOT on the “hooray I can’t wait to do this!” list.
Since this certainly isn’t my favorite thing to do, I decided it would be helpful to break things down into steps. Here are some of my steps / mantras that I’ve been keeping in mind during this process.
STEPS / MANTRAS:
- I will be a RUTHLESS editor who cuts out the fluff and eliminates non-essential info.
- I will be clear about my expectations, but not wordy about them.
- I will make this document “digestible at a glance.”
- I will make it look neat and orderly and not just cram everything onto one page.
- I will not use my speaking tone. I will use my document tone.
- I will make sure that this still covers all the important things.
Now, I’m going to be 100% truthful with you all: This project isn’t done. It’s not even remotely finished. ‘Cause I’m still procrastinating a tiny bit. (Actually, I’m just more focused on an upcoming piano camp! SO MUCH TO PREPARE!)
See? Excuses, excuses 😉
But when I do get around to finishing this project, I’ll let you all know.
Are you ready for an overhaul?
Let me know in the comments! What are you thinking about changing? Do you need to add stuff? Take stuff out? Maybe you need to figure out NEW policies that will better serve your business.
Oh, and one final note: if you need help with the biz side of your studio, check out my coaching page. I recently expanded my offerings, and I still have a bit of room on my coaching schedule this summer. Feel free to schedule a Discovery Session if you want to chat about things.
Stay tuned for more!