One popular discussion thread in the music teacher groups is the matter of missed lessons and how to handle make-up lessons. Like secondary and post-secondary institutions, tuition is non-refundable or discountable.
Some teachers don't offer make-up lessons for student absences. Period. The client makes the choice what is more important to them that day: Activity X or their music lesson.
Many offer make-up lessons under certain conditions (sufficient notice given, illness, emergency, etc.). Others use a Lesson Swap system. Trade it or lose it. I currently use a variant of the two.
My colleague and friend David Story once mentioned a piano teacher in Texas who only teaches doctors. My first question was "How did he work with their schedules?" Using online scheduling software, the teacher would post his availability for the month on his site. His students, once they received their work schedule for the week, would schedule their lesson online.
It's a neat concept, that has caught the attention of a few teachers in my discussion groups.I hope to do more coaching and eventually offer online lessons, so this function is highly attractive.
With the right program, it can take care of all the little administrative details for you. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping for. It should make it easier for students and their parents to reschedule, without it being a pain in the posterior for the teacher.
Ideally, it will also have a control feature that prevents people from trying to schedule at the last minute. It doesn't work for your dentist or massage therapist. Ergo, it doesn't fly with us either. Although many of us work from home, we are, just like your hair dresser, doctor and masseuse, trying to run a business and keep things on the level.
These are a few free and/or reasonably priced programs that I've come across. Many thanks to my colleague Darrin Hogue and Nicole Lipnicki for sharing what they've also found:
Appointment Calendar (Wordpress plug-in)
Booking Calendar & Appointment Scheduler (Wordpress plug-in)
The Online Booking Calendar (Wordpress plug-in)
Finally, here's an article that reviews 12 Free Appointment Scheduling Software packages for freelancers.