Studio Auto Pilot Online Registration and All the Rest You Need


Beta launch app lications for August 2021, October 2021 and January 2022 are now closed.
No deposit applications for Summer/Fall 2022 operation close May 15, 2022 or sooner if all 2022 system configuration slots are filled. Waitlisted 2022 applicants will be given priority for Fall 2023 operation.

 

Dear Fellow Music Studio Owner:

Welcome to studio automation. The beginning of mental and emotional freedom from your studio. The elimination of worrying that you need to find and keep a "superstar" front desk person to run your studio well.

This website is very long, almost like a mini book, as I have a lot to say about automation of your music studio business. If you invest the time in reading all of it with an open mind you will be very well rewarded. The day-to-day operation of your studio could dramatically improve forever. What I will discuss here is the start of the biggest shift that will change the music studio industry in the next 2-5 years. 

Sam and Val BeckfordMy name is Sam Beckford. My wife Valerie and I started our music studios in 1995 after meeting in university and both graduating with business degrees. Valerie also did a music minor. She plays piano and I play violin. We started our studio literally with $50 of photocopied flyers and by renting space in an elementary school. From that humble start, we ended up with 3 locations that, at their highest point, had over 3,600 students attending classes each week. Today we own 3 commercial buildings with over 31,000 square feet of commercial real estate that we run our studio from and rent out extra space to other tenants. 2 of our 3 buildings are mortgage free. In the 2020 pandemic, we took a golden opportunity to restructure to a smaller size that actually makes more profit than our large multi-location operation did.

Sam Beckford Successful Studio SuperconferenceIn 2003 I started doing business coaching of other studios who wanted to expand their studios and buy or build commercial real estate like we had done. I held mega seminars in cities all across North America like Chicago, New York, Phoenix, LA and Toronto. In 2008 I even built a conference center in the backyard of our Vancouver waterfront house and held small group coaching sessions for studio owners. 

Meeting BuildingMeeting Building SeminarMeeting Building Seminar Group

Over a 15-year period, I personally helped over 200 studio owners buy or build a commercial building of their own and even helped create a few studio real estate millionaires in the process.

Even though neither of us are dancers, we added a dance program to our music studio in 1998. We started using some software to run our studio the was actually made for dance and gymnastic and group classes, but the company claimed it could run music too. It was a compromise at best for music lessons. Most parts of their software were just plain unusable for music lessons, so we had to rely on a mish mash of google docs, notes and other programs cobbled together in a Frankenstein type arrangement. I researched several music studio software programs and found that they were either geared toward private independent teachers not commercial studios, or they were much too manual in the registration and day-to-day operations. Most were just yoga and gym software with a different (or the same) label. They all seemed to be made by computer programmers just guessing how to organize a music studio. The makers of the programs had clearly never actually booked a last-minute sub or tried to register that new family with 3 kids who can only come Tuesday at 5:30 (Hmm, if I just ask that one parent who likes me to move 30 minutes later, and I start that new guitar teacher this week instead of next week and hope his schedule fills in, just maybe…). None of the software programs had intelligent online registration for private music lessons. You needed your staff to run the software. There were no systems that basically “ran themselves.” In a world where everything could be done online, it seemed like the music studio industry was the “land that time forgot.” Registration by phone calls, request info forms, back and forth emails, but no online registration. It was like the industry was stuck at about 2007 in regards to technology.

In 2018 after being involved as an investor and active partner in 3 software startups as side businesses (2 tanked, one hit a home run getting Walmart and SoftSoap, the Colgate Palmolive brand, as customers) I decided to take the leap and build the program our studio needed myself. I was confident that I now had the software industry experience, resources, programming contacts and time that I could use to make software for our music studios that actually worked automatically for most day-to-day things.

After 2 years of successfully running the program at our studio it was ready to share with others in the industry. I had an eager crowd of my music studio business coaching clients who wanted to use our software to get the automatic results we were getting at their studios. In 2021 I decided to retire from business coaching to focus all my energy on our software exclusively for music studios, StudioAutoPilot.

Forget about software that “organizes” and “streamlines” and all the other same vague sounding features and platitudes other software programs brag about. This system, now called StudioAutoPilot, that I started building in 2018 and have been using to run our studio since 2019, gets as close to full intelligent automation as possible. I’m not even going to bother comparing our system to any other software because it is different. 

A flip phone and an iPhone are both technically cell phones, but the entire philosophy of how they were intended to be used is different. This system "automates" your studio because we know how to get your parents to happily do most of the tasks that you are now relying on your admins to do (or tasks they forget to do) right now. You will still need admins at your studio (although one of our beta studios laid off an admin staffer just 2 weeks after setting up StudioAutoPilot because they realized they didn't need that position anymore). StudioAutoPilot is like giving your admins an Iron Man suit. The suit is doing all of the heavy lifting/superhero stuff. One person can literally do the work of 2 or 3. 

When the pandemic hit, like almost everyone else in the music studio industry, our lessons went online. We saw that our parents and teachers were using our automated system and not using our admins - because no one was in the building. That's when we realized we had a major opportunity. We restructured our studio and downsized from 3 locations to just 1 location. Because we own all of our studio commercial real estate, we were able to rent the space we vacated at a higher rate. When we went back to in-person lessons, we reduced our admin staffing cost at the remaining location by almost 50%. That strategic move allowed us to increase our net profit by 28% with way less staff, less friction and less hassle.  Don’t worry, all of our old admin staff found other jobs and we still stay in contact with them.

Today we run with minimal admin staffing, but our parents, teachers and students are more satisfied that they can control what they used to be forced to do through our admin desk staff. No one wishes for the good old days before online banking when you had to go to the bank and deal with a teller.

Before we start, bottom line, how much does StudioAutoPilot cost to use?
$249 per month for up to 500 active students. Less than what 2 students pay you each month.

Is it worth it?

  • 84% of our students register themselves online. Between July 3, 2019 and today we have done over 1300 online registrations of private music students. One out of seven of our new registrations now happen during days and hours we are closed. We registered a new music student on Christmas day in both 2019 and 2020. I hope I get the same thing for Christmas this year too. It never gets old.
  • Integrated video for online lessons (Zoom-type service) is priced by active student count.
  • $99 per month for up to 200 student lesson rooms, every additional 100 students is $49 per month. Every active student has an automatically generated lesson room for each registration. There are unlimited automatically generated teacher accounts. These rooms can be used for regular online lessons or make up lessons or snow days when teaching off-site is necessary. Yes, you could try to save money by cobbling together free Zoom accounts and generating links yourself but you would not have an automatic system. Saving on video is the worst way to try to save money in my opinion. If you can’t afford an extra $99, or are unwilling to pay less than what 1 student pays you each month for total automation, stop reading now and keep doing what you are doing instead.
  • The integrated credit card merchant account is $10 per month, 30 cents per transaction with a flat transaction rate of 2.59%. These are competitive rates when you consider that all online registration transactions are “card not present” which have higher merchant fees. If you compare our merchant rates with Mindbody software – the huge yoga/gym software some music studios have wrestled with before running on StudioAutoPilot, our rates look very reasonable (support.mindbodyonline.com/s/article/What-are-my-MINDBODY-Payments-processing-rates).

 

10 Major Things StudioAutoPilot Does

What’s a “Yabut” studio? It is usually a studio that is successful with intelligent people working there. They see the value of online registration and automation as a concept, but they get too smart and think about too many hypothetical situations that could occur with a new system.

They are interested and maybe even a bit excited but then they think “yeah, but what if parents do this and then …” or “yeah, but what if the teachers all think …” or “yeah, but my admins will never…”.

I’ve always been pretty gung-ho about many opportunities and ideas. I know a lot of times being too smart can get in your own way.

Today we own 3 commercial properties valued at over 20 million dollars.

Back in 2004 we scraped together every penny we could find and bought one of our properties for a staggering $1,720,000.

Message from parentMany people thought we were crazy. The property had a city assessment of almost $140,000 less than what we paid. Here’s the online data I found that goes back to 2003.

A lot of well-meaning people and even some relatives told us not to take that risk in the “Yabut” language. I was convinced that if we had a tenant and shifted the expense we were paying for the location we were moving from into this new space, we could make it.  Even if we just broke even and made the payments, we would eventually have the building paid off. Several people said: “Yeah, but what if the economy goes down?”, “Yeah, but what if your tenant doesn’t make it and you have a vacancy?” and “Yeah, but what if you need to do a big repair?” Their well-meaning objections had some merit but the bottom line was owning a property long term would be a major benefit despite any short-term difficulties that could emerge.
 
Guess what? Over the next decade those things did go wrong. The economy went down in 2008 with the recession. We had to switch out our tenant who could didn’t make it. We had a couple of big unexpected repair bills. The worst-case scenarios all happened BUT…

Today in 2021 the numbers tell a different story.   On July 14, 2021 we got this offer below. Another local business really wanted our building so a realtor made us an offer, then increased the offer. We are not selling the building because we have a long-term tenant on a 10-year lease paying $30 per foot and it is now completely paid off.

Message from parent

Message from parent

Yabut thinking can prevent you from doing things that are very beneficial for your business. We had a lot of Yabut objections from our own studio admin staff in 2019 when I suggested that we would be running our studio on StudioAutoPilot. They confronted me about a lot of things that could not possibly work.  If I would have listened to the hypothetical scenarios of why it would not work, we would not have StudioAutoPilot today. During those times one of my most helpful supports was this book by the cofounder of Netflix that was released serendipitously in September 2019. I felt his pain. It was like he was reading my mind.

I can’t imagine operating in the “normal” way we used to do things just 3 years ago, before online registration and studio automation.

I have coached a lot of studio owners and other business owners and professionals to buy commercial real estate. I even had a medical doctor that went to Harvard Medical School attend one of my seminars. I was amazed at how their intelligence got in the way of them just taking action when I could prove the numbers made sense long term and, in many cases, short term. I would tell them you need to be smart enough to buy a building, and dumb enough to try.

Today StudioAutoPilot is being used by thousands of families across North America. It works and people like it. Will it take a bit of getting used to? Sure. Did shopping on Amazon take a bit of getting used to? Yes. Will we ever go back to buying everything in person? No.
A few studios and admins not believing this system could possibly work does not stop the thousands, soon to be hundreds of thousands of families from using it and revolutionizing the profit and freedom of the studio they are registering at.

Have an open mind when reading this or discussing the concept with your admins.

You can question it, but bottom line, just be like Fred Flintstone and say: Yabut, Yabut do!!

1. 100% Online Registration – no leads or inquiry forms to follow up with.

Parents do all this themselves:

  • select and register in actual times
  • pay a registration fee that you specify
  • have the fee prorated if starting mid-month based on how many lessons remain in the month

No admin work is necessary because:

  • the teacher is notified automatically about the new student
  • monthly payments are automatically set up
  • the teacher pay is automatically updated based on the start date
  • video room links are automatically generated and shared with teacher and student

Simply put a link or button on your main website that says “register now”, “register online”, “get started” or any phrase that suits your studio website style.  Direct that link to your customized studio booking page which will look like this.

Studio Booking Page

Prospects can refine their search by instrument, location if you have multiple locations, a specific day or a specific teacher they were referred to by a friend.

You set your studio minimum ages for instruments so a student that is too young cannot register for an unsuitable instrument or lesson.

Once a prospect selects the lessons and teacher, they see actual times. They can choose between 30-minute, 45 minute and 60-minute lessons. You just set the lengths of lessons you offer. StudioAutoPilot intelligently recalculates the fee and displays time slots to minimize the possibility of a gap being created on the schedule.

Selecting A Teacher

From the admin side you can easily control the display of online booking options to ensure students are booking where you want and with the teachers you want filled sooner if necessary.

Selecting A Teacher

If you click “Hide” a teacher’s schedule will not display for online booking. This can allow you to fill certain teachers based on your priority.  You can also adjust your booking page search results for teachers in the order you wish, just like Amazon does to sell more or less of certain items based on demand and availability.

The hide feature is also helpful if you have a teacher who will be leaving soon and it would be impractical to start a new student with them and then switch teachers.  Let’s say a teacher was pregnant and was planning to stop teaching next month. “Hide” will not display their entire day or any open times online for booking.

“Hold” will not display a specific time or time block for online booking until you remove the hold.

In the case of the teacher Emerson above, his schedule can be easily displayed by removing the hold when he is available to start earlier.

To populate our online teacher listings, we ask teachers to provide a picture (preferably with their instrument) and a bio about their qualifications, teaching experience and style. We edit the bios as needed before displaying them.

We only display the teacher’s first name and last initial for privacy and to prevent students finding a teacher’s social media and trying to contact them directly. The step of adding teacher pictures and bios and letting the parents choose will surprise you. Parents pick different teachers than you would have picked for them and that is ok. Our retention has increased dramatically since letting parents choose their own teacher, instead of us believing we need to “match” students with teachers.

There are no questions of “tell me what is the teacher like?” Parents search for teachers online with their kids, and the kids pick the teacher they like.  Parents have the assurance that the teacher has the qualifications and experience that they can trust from the bio. What you see is what you get is the way of all online shopping. If you can literally do a virtual tour of a vacation house or resort you are planning to visit, it makes no sense to keep parents in the dark about the teacher that they could be taking lessons from for years.

Another major advantage of parents’ self-selecting teachers from their bios and pictures on our booking page, is we have almost no requests for trial lessons. Last year we just had 3 requests for a trial lesson before committing. Parents and their kids and adult students are comfortable with the style and qualifications of the teacher so they just book. Simple and efficient.

Here are some actual studios who are using our system for online registration. They all just added a “Register Online Now '' or “Get Started” button on their main website that links to their StudioAutoPilot booking page.

www.metermusicschool.com
www.fivehands.com
www.ftsmusic.org

One of our beta testers, Meter Music School in Seattle is excited about seeing things like this in his registration log:

Online Registration Anytime of the day

A new adult guitar student that registered themselves at 1:11AM Sunday morning, when no studio would ever be open to complete a registration. In his words he’s “pretty stoked” about it.

I know exactly how he feels. Later on that same Sunday our studio got a new online registration at 8:29 PM for a new 12 year old guitar student.

Online Registration

Autopilot really is the only way to fly.

 

2. Sets up a private messaging platform for practice assignments between teachers and students.

A messaging platform between teacher and student is automatically set up to share recordings, pdfs and videos. Admins have full control over the messages and can edit or delete them. All communication is kept in a place where it is seen and managed by the studio. No secrets, no surprises. No out of the loop “my teacher said the make up was today, I thought.”

Messaging Platform

And no Patty Paranoid, your teachers will not steal all of your students and run away together singing that Piña Colada song laughing and frolicking along some white sand lesson beach.

Teachers and students need to communicate and share lesson information. Restricting that legitimate needed communication and forcing it through your front desk is tedious and frustrating. We have not lost students because of this message system. I promise, if you do not have an approved communication system you control, students and teachers will do it without your knowledge somehow. Deep breaths Patty, its ok. We’ll help you.

 

3. Exact monthly billing based on the number of lessons

Monthly fees are automatically charged based on the number of actual lessons each month and parents can see a list of upcoming fees to be billed on the 1st of the month at any time. No more averaging and only getting paid for 4 lessons in a 5 lesson month (and then having the student quit and forgetting to charge them, doh!).

Here’s a sample of what parents see. The hyper-planners can see exactly what is forecast to come out of their account each month, but seriously no one really cares that much. Studio owners psych themselves up believing everyone “needs” even monthly billing. They don’t. People are used to different amounts being billed to them for many services. Sorry we all aren’t that special.

Automatic setup of monthly charges

 

4. Your admins do not need to chase declined or expired cards anymore

When students log into the system they see their failed payment status and can update and/or retry their card in real time to get an approval.

Payments

Parents update their own Credit Card Information

If it is after the 10th of the month, you can use a recommended setting so parents get this subtle notification and they are required to pay to access the lesson practice notes or online lessons.

Update Credit Card

We call this the “Netflix” billing model. As in, no working credit card = no Netflix. You can override this setting but I highly recommend you do not. We have practically eliminated chasing of fees or phoning for “can you please update….”at all at our studio (we only made 3 phone calls regarding updating cards in an 8 month period last year).

But what if parents don't log in and see a declined payment? They will. All online lesson video room connections are in their account and all practice assignments are in their account too. Our teachers gladly upload all the assignments in the students accounts because kids can't forget them at the studio, lose them, or leave them folded into the minivan seat ("accidentally").

Parents are sent a notification when they get a new practice assignment for their child. When they go in to get it they are prompted to update their payment. 

Ironically eliminating collections at your studio has nothing to do with how good your admin staff is at hounding people. Eliminating manual collections is entirely dependent on how good your teachers are at posting practice assignment for their students.

5. StudioAutoPilot 1 click subbing - does 5 things

On the admin side when you add a sub all this happens:

  • The sub is added on the admin schedule
  • The pay is deducted from the teacher who is missing and the explanation is given on their statement of who subbed on which day so they can reconcile it
  • The student is added to the sub’s personal schedule that they can log in to see
  • The video room moves to the sub’s schedule and moves back after the sub day
  • The pay is added to the sub at their pay rate.

Subbing

Subbing

 

6. The transfer feature allows you to change times, days, lesson lengths or teachers and have everything updated automatically with 1 click.  You can also activate the parent DIY transfer feature to go full autopilot.

With just 1 click the transfer function will:

  • End a lesson registration with the old teacher and start it with a new teacher
  • Recalculate pay based on the last lesson day taught at that time or lesson length
  • Move the video room and all lesson notes to the new teacher
  • Charge or credit the parent if they are moving from a day with more or fewer lessons in that month
  • Update the future monthly fees to reflect an increased lesson length
  • Update the new time, day, teacher and lesson length in the parent account

One Click to transfer students to a different time or day or teacher

Move Lessons

Confirm change in lesson

The transfer feature also lets you increase lesson lengths and automatically updates things in all the necessary places.

When you are comfortable you can go full autopilot like we do at our studio. After the beta studios had completed just 6 weeks of running on StudioAutoPilot, I offered them the option to switch on the parent account DIY transfer autopilot. I was actually surprised when 100% said "yes!" without hesitation. I guess by that time they were true believers.

Let’s say your studio closes at 9:00 PM. Imagine a teacher telling their last student of the night that takes 7:30 -8:00PM, a 16-year-old voice student, that they should increase their lesson to 45 minutes. The student says they will ask their parents.  Later that night at 9:34PM, (your studio is closed) the parents go online and increase their lesson length from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. It’s the middle of the month, there are 2 lessons left so the system charges the credit card on file for the extra 15 minutes for the next 2 weeks. All future monthly payments are updated to charge for the 45-minute length. The teacher pay is automatically updated and synced to pay extra based on the date they increased mid month. The teacher is auto notified on their schedule that the student will be 45 minutes from now on starting next week.

Then the system recalibrates the available times at the end of the night so instead of creating an automatic 15-minute gap by offering only the later start time of 8:30, the system offers an 8:15 start first in addition to 8:30.

Time Slots avoiding schedule gaps

The next morning when you check your dashboard, you see the update that happened and 1 other new registration that came in while you were sleeping. What you see feels kind of like a dream, but you're awake.

7. Automated Make up lesson management

StudioAutoPilot gives you 4 automated options to handle make up lessons.

Families can:

  1. Self-schedule with their teacher into other student cancellations or last-minute unfilled gaps.
  2. Self-schedule into a group make-up class pre-selected for the right age and level for their child. If your studio offers group make up classes, you simply set your schedule and capacity. When parents cancel a private lesson, they generate a make up credit which they can use to self register for the group class. The class list is automatically updated for the teacher showing ages.
  3. Self-schedule a live video make-up lesson in other student cancellations or last-minute unfilled gaps using our integrated auto-generated video lesson rooms. Parents like this make up option because they do not need to drive back to the studio. You also have the option to book make-up lesson only days for parents to schedule into. If you do a make-up only day and make it online only for parents, the teacher can be at home completing make ups instead of using a studio room. Our auto generated video rooms work without the complication and friction of your admin staff emailing zoom links back and forth and inviting students in and out of rooms. It’s a fully hands off process.
  4. Receive a recorded video lesson from their teacher posted into their student account. This is done by our own integrated system. Teachers upload videos though their dashboard and the video is stored, hosted and played directly through the students' accounts. Some studios already use a video make up lesson approach using a third-party video service, dropbox or YouTube. Compared to our integrated system, those options add unnecessary complication, expense and an additional account for teachers and parents to use.

At our studio we mainly do a combination of method 1 reschedule in person lessons into gaps, and method 3 video lessons that the teacher gives at the studio or from their home in certain situations.

Parents are able to log into their account and cancel up to 3 lessons per year (or how ever many you set but 3 works for us) with 24 hours notice and generate a make up lesson time credit. We used to have a rigid make up lesson policy saying you need to be sick or no make up. We changed that policy because what matters is not the reason students miss, it is the amount of advance notice they give to tell you they are missing so you can rebook that time.

“But I can’t rebook that cancelled lesson time! It’s too hard. Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I know, we couldn’t manually rebook cancelled slots before either – but a computer can. Trust me if UBER and Airbnb can work because of computer automation, make up lesson scheduling can work and does work too.

If parents want to cancel a lesson, they don’t call you and threaten, beg or negotiate. They log into their account and choose the date to cancel. If it is more than 24 hours in advance, they can cancel it. They can do this up to 3 times per year at our studio. I like 3 because baseball has 3 strikes. The longer out in advance they cancel the better. There is more time for someone to automatically rebook themselves into that spot.

Parents can change their own lesson

When they cancel, the system shows the parent the confirmation and generates a make up lesson time credit to rebook. A 30 minute cancellation generates a 30 minute lesson to rebook.  If they try to cancel more than 3 lesson it says: You have used the maximum number of make up lesson cancellations. You don’t have to be the messenger behind bullet proof glass.

Canceling a lesson

On the teacher and admin schedule the slot on that cancelled lesson turns red so everyone knows the student has cancelled.

Canceling A Lesson

When the parents generate a make up time credit, they can self schedule through their account into an open time on their teacher’s schedule from another student’s future cancellation or in an unbooked gap that is available within the next 2-7 days. You as an admin can also schedule makeups in unfilled gaps farther in the future than 7 days, but I highly advise you tell parents to schedule their own make ups. We train parents to self-book. Let them self book makeups too.

Makeup lessons

In this case below there is another cancellation by a different student that can be filled. There are no other gaps available but it is the parent’s responsibility to check back and see when they can schedule something. People check back on flights and vacation rental booking all the time. They will also check back to book make up lesson which you have graciously allowed them to self generate. Remember, they asked you for the favor which you are accommodating. They will check themselves for their lesson to book.

Makeup manager

Parents also have the option to self increase the student’s lesson time by 15 minute increments if there is a space before or after their regular lesson to use up make up time until it is gone.

Here is the notice parents get when they reach the maximum number of make up lesson cancellations you set. Thank you RoboCop.

Cancel a Lesson

A couple of things to note how we have proven this to work at our studio over the last 2 years.

When a student cancels it is automatically deducted from the teachers pay and automatically added back when the teacher completes the make up. You want to do it this way. If you pay in advance before the make up is done and a teacher quits and has not done make ups, clawing back money is hard.

Make up credits are valid for the whole teaching year, most years usually end in June, then the credits expire.
If you are worried about parent complaints, abuse, tons of rescheduling and angry people demanding refunds for their unused make up lessons, based on our experience, you shouldn’t be.

In our last full teaching year (September – June) out of over 350 active private student registrations we had 230 self-cancellations. 151 people used up their make up credits. 79 did not use their make ups and did not ask for a refund. Many of our 30+ teachers that owed 2-3 make up lessons (teachers have a list in their account of who they owe make up lesson to) did not chase students to complete those outstanding lessons either. The teachers understood they would not be paid if the lessons were not completed but both sides did not pursue the make ups.

There was no angry mob. We only gave 1 parent a credit who was unable to use her lesson. She was the only person who even mentioned it.
People leave gift cards half unused and let in store credits expire all the time. People order stuff on Amazon they don’t really want and don’t return it for a refund. We all do that stuff (except you Patty). We are people. Studio owners are too hung up over worrying about make up lessons. If you have an automatic system to manage it and deal with all of the emotional hijacking that results from it, your life improves dramatically.

 

8. Gmail to student quick link

When you click on an active student lesson spot, a tool bar pops up with several options.

Emailing a student

It is very simple and has 80% of what you will need in a typical studio day.

Log in as let’s you login as the parent so you can walk them through anything they see in their account so literally you are on the same (web) page view as them.

Email opens up your studio Gmail account and prepopulates it with the student email and subject line about their lessons. You can edit the subject line as needed but it will probably be close to what you need. With Gmail “magic” the contact you email will be added to your Gmail (it is probably in their already if you emailed them before).

Email Using Gmail

We highly recommend you use Gmail for 2 reasons. 50% of all email sent is on Gmail. If you send from Gmail you have a much better chance of showing up in the receiver’s primary tab instead of updates, promotions, or spam. Gmail is also better for searching communication threads and putting in screen shots and pictures.

While we are here, I may as well explain the other links on our tool bar.

Cancel lets you cancel a student's lesson on that day so it turns red and adjusts pay and or adds a make up credit as needed.

Make up lets you manually book a make up lesson if a student is owed one. It automatically adjusts the student’s make up lesson credits and teacher pay. We recommend letting parents book their own makeups but occasionally we book a make up lessons for the parent.

Sub and Transfer we covered earlier.

End lets you permanently quit a student, terminate future recurring payments and will adjust pay to teachers as necessary based on the last day of lessons.

Ending a Lesson

$Terminal allows you to quickly add a credit to a student account which will be deducted against the next upcoming monthly payment (we always recommend credits toward upcoming payments over doing refunds). It also allows you to quickly charge a family credit card on file through our embedded payment terminal for any extras or incidental fees with the "Purchase" option. The charge and description will automatically be added in the previous payments section of a family account for them to see so they have a receipt. With the "Payment on account" feature you can enter in lump sum payments like checks some homeschool groups send you to pay for the whole year. The lump sum payment you enter will go towards any future monthly payments until it is used up, just like a giant gift card.

You know those times occasionally when a parent calls in at the end of the month panicking that their credit card payment won't go through on the first? If they pay cash for the upcoming fee or use a different card just for that month and you enter it in as a "Payment on account" the system will see that they paid for the month already and will not charge their card on file on the first. It will try again for the following months and all future months (just don't let parents do that too much though. That is definitely not autopilot).

Ending a Lesson

Video Room lets you enter the video lesson room of that student to test it or see if they are in a lesson room. This is very helpful once in a while.

Files/Msgs Lets you see any messages or files of practice notes sent back and forth between the teacher and student. You can also edit their messages as needed.

 

9. Pay Calculation

Teacher pay calulator

Pay is fully calculated and adjusted for late student starts in the month, teacher cancellations if the did not teach a lesson and make up lessons that were either deducted or added back when taught. Transfers and subbing days are fully accounted for too. You can add or edit pay items as needed. You have an option to display pay to teachers in real time in their account as it is happening as well so they can log in and see exactly what they are scheduled to get paid and why. We do that at our studio and it has eliminated surprises and “why didn’t I get paid for X questions at the end of the month. It is literally what you see is what you get.

 

10. The best data transfer/parent training solution ever

Studio owners always say: “This system sound good but my parents will never use it. They won’t log in and will just still call us.”

Those studio owners are right when referring to other crap systems, but this ain’t no crap system. We are contrarians in the world of software. We do not do data transfers and set up parent accounts that they never see, never use, and never know a password for. That is insanity and all other “professional” software companies offer data import (I believe “professional” means: we are just computer programmers who have never actually done a registration, booked a sub or worked the desk of a music studio. We make great yoga studio software though!).

Everyone’s studio data is filled with errors. Importing the data you have is a big mistake other software companies help you do! And more importantly for our system to work we train parent behaviour from day one. Amazon has trained all of us to happily work for them doing our own research, shipping and order checking. We work for them, but we think we are “shopping”.

In our beta studio testing the average family has logged in 5.15 times between September 1, 2021 and October 7, 2021. That is approximately 1 time per week. Parents are using our system because of how we introduced it to them.

To set up your studio parents you do not fill in their details in your system. You send them an invite and they fill in their details. There will be far fewer errors and they are filling in info about 2 or 3 students maximum, not hundreds like your admins (or you!) would have to do.

Simply pick a blank time on the day and time of the teacher you are getting the student to register for and click invite.

Starting on StudioAutoPilot

You fill in this custom link that is emailed to them.

StudioAutoPilot parent email

They get an email like this with whatever text you wish.

Registration Link

When they click the link, they are put on a page to set up student and payment details and pick a password for their account.

Setting up an account

We have now just trained parent behaviour. They know they have an account. They know their password as well as how to enter, charge, and update a credit card. They know how to send a message to their teacher.

In fact, this works so well we don’t even do manual registration any more! We don’t type in student details. After all, you don’t call up Amazon and tell them your address on the phone! Stop bookin’ it old school yo!

When prospects phone us to register, we send them an invite and confirm with them that they got the link in their email while we are on the phone with them.

If people come in person to register, we pull up different teacher profiles and times from our online website on a large screen at our front desk. They select a teacher and time they like and we send them an invite to their phone right there so they can to complete the registration themselves. This is the ultimate way to train your parents to use your system from day one.

Front Desk

That is the StudioAutoPilot way.

 

 Q & A

We have switched thousands of families who were on even amount monthly billing over to exact monthly billing. A couple of studio owners were worried when starting StudioAutoPilot about families “needing” the even amounts to “plan” and that the uneven system would cause problems. There were no problems or families insisting their billing had to be even. No family quit over it or even really mentioned it beyond an “oh, ok”.  The fear or complaints over uneven billing is a phantom menace. No real problem. If a family is on credit card payments, the actual amount does not actually matter that much if it is up or down by $30-$50 per month. If families need to see it, the amount of the upcoming months are clearly displayed in their account so there are no surprises.

No studio pays their teachers a flat rate of 4 lessons per month no matter how many lessons they teach to a student in that month, so it makes no sense to keep charging a flat amount. The main operational belief behind StudioAutoPilot is: what you see is what you get.

The only reason studios charge even amounts is because automatic recurring billing software only supports even amounts. That’s why we built our own billing system. When a new student starts mid-month all studios that bill even amounts monthly, still prorate that first month fee with fewer lessons.  That means the even monthly studios are actually not fully flat rate anyway.

Way back in the good old days of 1997 before credit card recurring billing we would make parents write out a series of post-dated checks with lower amounts in some months and higher amounts in other months to match the number of lessons. It was the credit card billing software that forced us to go even amounts, not because people did not want the amount of lessons to match the payment that month.

The amount of credit card declines does not increase in the 5 lesson months either. A lower charge because a family may only get 2 or 3 lessons in December means you don’t need to constantly explain that it “evens out” to families who look at a calendar. We used to pull out a complicated calendar chart at our front desk to try to explain how our confusing billing system “evened out.” Sorry, if someone switches days enough times it probably won’t even out (it’s funny how no one ever came to the desk complaining that there are 5 lessons this month but you are only charging me for 4. Hmmm…).

There are a few studios who were actually already doing exact monthly billing manually before they found our system because they realized it made way more sense. They were thrilled that someone who “gets it” finally made them software to do it.

Yes, studio cashflow in December will be lower if there are 3 lessons, but you will have a big October with 5 lessons, a big November and a big January with 5 lessons so most studios will have actually collected more revenue between September 1 and January 31 than they would have with their even monthly billing system. The uneven billing system will make your studio collect more revenue earlier. Also no one will get 10 lessons (2 – 5 lesson months), pay for 8 (2 – 4 lesson months) and then quit. Uneven billing fixes that problem. Like Hans and Franz said on SNL: “Listen to me now and believe me later” (YouTube it millennials).

These days, especially after the start of the pandemic, people want to do things online themselves way more.  No one wants to call a travel agent anymore, but that is basically what the studio industry is stuck acting like. We just call the travel agent our “front desk staff” and we call searching flights “matching the teacher and student”. Be honest how much “matching” actually happens. If a parent of a 12-year-old calls in for a flute time and you have 1 flute teacher, I’m pretty sure you will tell them it is a “perfect match”.

Another huge problem with a desk staff person telling someone times on the phone is they cannot rattle off 35 different times and describe every teacher. It would take too long and be too confusing. Parents searching for themselves online can see and will go through all that information. By putting options online your conversion will actually increase not decrease because parents will see more options and sell themselves on times or teachers that may have not been suggested to them. People spend 45 minutes shopping on Amazon for an item that costs $11.99. The question to ask in online behaviour is “who gets the reward”? A consumer will search for hours if they want something special to solve a problem or fill a need. I have spent hours looking for small items that are important to me for my swimming pool. When I have went to our local pool supply store (who was actually so rude I will never go back, thank you internet) they brushed me off and took no time to even look for a solution that would help me out. I felt like I was an interruption. Live customer “service” is not always helpful.

Customers and new studio parents will take way more time getting informed than a person selling an item who gets a commission will give to them, or in our case a front desk staff who gets no commission, will take. Many days we will have 100% of the new students book themselves online during the hours we are open. No one will phone or email us to inquire. What for? Tell me about the teacher? What times are available? How much are lessons? There is no need to phone up the airline if you have all of the information. You just book it (danno.)

But lessons are a personal thing! Not a product we are selling on Amazon! We need to talk to them and they need to talk to us! Nobody emails lesson details with our personal touch and 15 pieces of flair like we do!

Go to upwork.com if you are not familiar with it. You can hire a professional to do anything from graphic design to translation or even scientific research for you from anywhere in the world. This is highly specialized stuff and you are basically hiring someone that can make or lose your company thousand of dollars. You don’t phone or email anyone to use their services. You see the professional’s picture, preview their portfolio, see what they charge, book them and the system tracks and bills hours and lets you communicate and share the workflow (sound familiar?).

That is exactly what our online system does but tailored for music lessons. In the future every studio who wants to remain relevant will do actual online registration like we offer right now. Those who want to benefit the most, like us, will start early. Those who wait it out will be behind the curve and miss out on growing their studio by getting registrations 24 hours a day, increasing revenue and saving staffing costs. As a business coach back in 2005 I vividly remember standing on stage doing a workshop telling people, almost begging them, to do automatic credit card billing instead of collecting checks and cash each month and having people argue and heckle me that it would not work. It was a frustrating experience. I knew I was right and today everyone does credit card auto billing. Online registration is the same. It is the future. It will not go away. It will just become industry standard.

If you use a submit form to get inquiries there is probably no real interaction between your desk staff and the prospect anyway, just a bunch of emails going back and forth. Also, your lag time of getting back to an inquiry and then sending out the lesson times, then getting a question, then sending back other details can take days, or even a week. Total deal killer. Marketing friction at its best. Screeching to a halt like a 5-year-old group Suzuki violin class. I remember those days. Just say no to group beginner violin. Let’s just say there was a lot of rowing but it definitely was not “lightly”.

Studios that switch to our system understand that “time is the enemy of the seller.” The longer it takes you to finalize and confirm a registration, the greater the chance that the prospect will look somewhere else or just lose interest and momentum.

Plus, a huge factor most studio owners don’t consider is this. Just because a prospect calls your studio and talks to a person, the conversation will not necessarily make them want to register based on what they hear on the phone. There are several times I have looked at a company website, been ready to buy and then called in and was basically “unsold” by the person I talked to. The employee (or even the owner) who talked to me may not have been blatantly rude or offensive, but if they were distracted, not that knowledgeable or just not that into what they were doing, it turned me off and I decided not to buy from them. You, the owner are more motivated to sell well and sell properly, (most days) but not everyone of your admins will be. StudioAutoPilot is designed to be a robot superstar so you don’t need to make sure you hire, or are constantly being held hostage by, human admin superstars. I’ve heard and seen horror stories from my studio consulting clients. I’ve even seen studio managers who have attended my workshops with the owner and the manager acted like they were the real brains and the boss, not the studio owner (Tony Danza - where ya at?). The studio owner felt held hostage and was so worried about losing their “awesome” (google translate: diva) admin person that they overpaid and were still constantly being asked for raises. At our studio we experienced a bit of this too. Our staff was good but we saw how complacency and a feeling of “they need me” created an unhealthy business relationship.

One last thing. Our system is so simple that you as the owner will never lose control because you don’t know how to use it or do a registration. Don’t laugh. There are some studio owners who have progressively given up almost all control to admins because there are so many pieces, details and systems running at their studio, the studio owner actually can’t do a registration. They don’t know how! So, if an admin quits, the studio owner is basically screwed. I’ve seen it happen. Usually, bigger studios are worse for that. Before I built our system I confess, I was one of them. With over 3600 students, lots of commercial real estate to manage, my consulting and other business ventures on my plate, our system had grown and morphed into an unwieldy web of google docs, payment processors and other things that I couldn’t figure out without the admins (who changed the password again?!!). When I built the system I ruffled a lot of feathers because I started from scratch and rebuilt everything to be so simple even a studio owner (me!) could use it. That actually scared a few of my admins who we just “couldn’t live without.”

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we went completely online. In April Val & I laid off all 8 of our admin staff and ran our entire multi-location operation ourselves with no admin helpers for 5 months until late August when we hired just one of them back. That was the ultimate trial by fire for our system. Certified studio owner proof.

Teachers have been very receptive to using our new system and have not been resistant as some studio owners had previously feared. Even old you-know-who (AKA Oscar the Grouch) may end up liking it. Ours did. Every studio has one.

Teachers really appreciate being able to send assignments and messages back and forth with the students. The messaging system does not get misused and we have had great success with it being used for positive relaying of notes and information. 

The teacher dashboard is a simplified version of the admin view with less controls. Blocks turn light green when a student is added and starting in the future. Blocks turn dark green when a student is ending and red if they are missing that day. Teachers access the video room and send messages right from the schedule. Upcoming birthdays are clearly marked in advance. That one small point has helped student retention.

Teacher schedule View

The schedule shows subs which teacher they are subbing for and gives age and instrument.

Teachers are even able to add or open holds on their schedule and those slots will not display for online booking. That has been very handy if a teacher is in university and wants to open up more times as soon as they know their class schedule is free. Letting a teacher self open up more times over Labor Day weekend instead of waiting for your office hours to do it for them can mean you getting an extra 2 or 3 new online registrations.

Teacher subbing schedule view

Another feature in their dashboard that teachers love is the auto recital builder.

On the admin side you set up your recital times and dates and tell them which recital to put students in, just like you are probably doing right now.

The teacher discusses the recital with the parents, adds the student to the right recital time and enters the name of the piece that they are playing. Any notes to make the program are also added at this time.

Adding a Student to a Recital

If the student needs accompanying the teacher can even upload the sheet music and schedule a time for the student to rehearse with the accompanist on a schedule you set up on the admin side.

Accompanist Scheduling

When you the admin approve the performer submissions, the system auto generates a print ready recital program like this. All ready to hand out.

Recital Program

The system also generates a presenter version for the (young) MC with some very valuable information like ages, notes and a star if is the performers very first recital. We take extra care with those very first recital ones to make sure they have a good experience and don’t put them first on the program!!! (Trauma in the recital hall).

Recital Program - Presenter View

Imagine a recital where every student’s name is spelled right! Parents are automatically reminded of their times and can automatically remove their child from the program up to when we print it if they are unable to attend.  In 2019 after 24 years of doing recitals, we finally had recitals with no misspelled names, no one “missing” from the program and 100% of students on the program showing up (and at the right recital!). No standing at the front calling out Bueller, Bueller, anyone…Bueller?

Stop wasting hours with word docs, google docs and broken communication chains that cause customer service problems and ultimately hurt your student retention.  Recitals are just a small part of what we studios do but they are a crucial part that everyone-even grandparents see and judge you by.

Teachers absolutely love having the most organized recitals they have ever been involved in.

Yes. We are strategically teaching parents to do their own admin for a lifetime (or at least for as long as they take lessons) by not giving them admin to help them out. I keep extensive logs on our own system with time stamps down to the second to see the behaviour of our students and parents.

Since launching our system here is how many times our families have logged in

Front Desk

This is just our personal studios. Not all studios on StudioAutoPilot. Almost fifty thousand logins. Parents truly live in our system because they can. They are enabled to communicate with their teachers and get practice assignments in a setting that makes us, the studio owners, comfortable. Since their online lessons are in their account, we control that contact too.  Some studios have one system for this, another system for that and they set up accounts and passwords for their families. Then they complain that “no one logs into their account”. Well first of all, it’s not their account. It’s your account, you set up for them. Big difference. Our families own their accounts from day one. Our invite system ensures that. Its their password, their payment info that they put in – not you. Please, please don’t try to save a step and set up accounts for families. Make them do it. New students will have no option and will gladly do it when they register online anyways. Over 80% of new students will register online. Send invites to the other 20% who actually contact you and your life will be awesome, I promise.

Be a little patient with your existing family stragglers, they will come around and do it. Here's a message an existing student parent sent to the owner of one of our beta studios on September 2, 2021, right after they received an invite to set up their lessons.

Message from parent

Our accounts are designed to get used – a lot. There is no parent tutorial, we don’t need one. Our underlying belief is “what you see is what you get”. You didn’t need a 3-week webinar series to start using Amazon. It was easy to figure out and use instantly. I see other software programs for studios that have videos for parents to watch or 10-page orientations they need to read just so they can understand their “simple” system. Seriously?!? If your software needs that much explanation for a consumer to know how it works – it sucks. Our system literally has 10-year-old kids doing online registrations for their parents who don’t speak English. It’s designed to be that easy and intuitive. I’m personally not a programmer. I’m a guy who is not overly techy so I want something simple and easy, not complicated. I want our whole system to be a big easy button because I want it to be used. The easier our system is to use, the more freedom a studio owner gets. I want it super easy because I am a studio owner! Software companies don’t have the same personal motivation that I do. Based on some painful software I’ve used in the past I believe some programmers even like stuff to be complicated. You sadistic weirdos! Shame on you! Yes, it will get used. Your studio desktop computer and phone may actually get a little dusty. For real.

In April 2021, we hired 2 new part time admins. Both of them had never taken music lessons before. We gave them 2 days of training where I sat with them and then they were on their own. Between May 1 and May 31, we received 7 incoming phone calls after 6 PM all month. We registered 12 new music students that started lessons during the month of May. 2 out of the 12 students registered with our admins. The rest registered themselves online. The new admins told those inquiries about the lesson options that are also shown on the website and sent them invites. Basically, our new admins read the same booking website, told the 2 people how to register themselves, and they did. The front desk job changes dramatically when you use StudioAutoPilot. Before I used to preach at seminars about the merits of “call capture” and answering the phone and conversion. Now I just hope all of our parents and adult students just register themselves instead of talking to us.

The website booking system gives them the same information every time. No worrying about a new admin doing a good job or bad job. You forgot to tell them about our make up policy?  They didn’t sign this form? Uh oh, we’ll hear about that later. Our system makes them do everything step-by-step. There is no “forgetting to tell them”.

The American Airlines website is never in a bad mood or bugs you because it’s busy talking about the weekend with a co-worker. It just lets you book whatever you want at your own pace.

Much of the work that needs to flow through admins will flow around them. When was the last time you went to the bank to pay a bill? Online banking has shifted the control to the customer, away from the teller. I’m not trying to bash all admins and say that they are all bad. There are some very nice people who have worked for us over the years that I like a lot. We still stay in touch with them years later.  We need people to work at our front desk. We as owners don’t want that job (however, with an automated system running everything it's not as unpleasant as it used to be because there are way fewer interactions, requests and complaints).

Your admin’s duties will shift from being like a front desk hotel clerk who needs to check in everyone manually, to working at a hotel where there is self check in and you unlock your room with your phone (no key) so your staff will end up being more like a concierge. They will still have to do occasional things but 90% of routine things will eventually be done by parents and adult students themselves. This “future” exists in many industries already. We don’t want to call taxi dispatch. We use UBER.

The system is very easy to use and understand and it doesn't have a steep learning curve. The only person that likes change is a wet baby, so some people may be a little fearful but our feedback from admins who have switched has been very positive. The idea of not needing to chase families for money each month (usually the same repeat offenders) makes the admin job a lot more pleasant. Taking away the make up lesson stand off also lightens the mood substantially.

In our beta testing I thought I would be bombarded with questions or complaints for admins beginning with: “in our old system we were able to ….”. Surprisingly I never got a single question longing for the good old days and their other awesome system. They were not coming over from an awesome system. These admins, at good successful studios, were coming over from a pieced together mish mash of many systems glued together with google docs that had things slipping through the cracks daily. The admins were just happy to have a great tool. It’s like being a baker and going from mixing everything by hand and then getting an electric dough mixer that also can also make icing and whip cream. It’s a huge upgrade of your tools to do your job.

As a studio business coach of over 20 years, I have spent a lot of time telling studios to start doing certain things and to stop doing other things. I’m qualified to do that because even with one location, our studio generates more actual profit than most studios do in gross revenue. We all get used to how we run our business and believe it is the “right” way because we are used to doing it like that.

Cable TV companies have office buildings filled with people chasing customers who have not paid for their cable TV service for the last 4 months. They mail out statements, past due notices and sometimes even call people to try to collect the debt. The companies end up with millions of dollars of uncollected bad debt each year that they write off.

Netflix has no people in their collections department. With their system your credit card works, you pay automatically in advance and you get to “watch TV” on their system. They don’t do a “watch first, pay later” model like the cable companies do.

The cable TV companies have decades of experience running a bad business model, that has huge staffing costs and loses money for the company. They feel like they can’t change because they have “always done it that way.” Very professional indeed.

Most people don’t like change. But the real question is, what are you holding onto and why are you keeping that way of doing things in the first place?

I have talked to studios that have some quirky scheduling or billing plans like: every other week lessons, drop in occasional lessons with a punch card, semi private lessons where the 30-minute lesson price will go up or down if you have 2 or 3 students in the room sharing a teacher and then change monthly if 1 student drops out, 20-minute lessons instead of 30-minute lessons, but there are still 30-minute lesson students primarily on the schedule.

I have 3 questions for all studios running plans like that;

  1. How many students are on that unconventional plan (both in actual number and percentage of total revenue).
  2. How much profit does that unconventional plan generate for the studio?
  3. Have you ever considered the hidden opportunity costs of offering those programs?

Usually, it is a very small part of the student base on an unconventional plan.

The profit generated is also negligible but, in some cases, the quirky plan is unprofitable and is actually operating at a loss because the studio owner has never considered the opportunity cost effect. I had a string of emails go back and forth with a studio owner who was convinced he needed to keep offering 20-minute lessons to a few of his students even when I could prove that he was losing over $1000 per month in potential revenue by doing it. Just because you have been burning coal to run a locomotive for 70 years and you are good at shoveling coal, does not mean you should keep doing it. McDonald’s used to sell Mc Pizza (when the moon hits your eye, remember the commercial?). It was a pretty brilliant idea. Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world. The problem is that it took 11 minutes to make. Not exactly fast (probably not exactly food either). It’s ok to drop good ideas when the numbers don’t make sense.

A student that attends and only pays for an every other week lesson has just killed 50% of the revenue and profit you could have made in the weeks they are not attending.

But what if I get a different student to fill the other spot when they are not there?

Ok maybe you can do that, but you realize that if you say “no more” to every other week lessons, 50% of those students can quit and you will be make the same amount of revenue and profit from the ones that stay and do take lessons every week? Also, you will make more profit because you have probably opened up some prime spots that will fill with every week students.

Drop in students are another unprofitable offering too.  When you are selling primarily online, you need to be conscious to only let people choose from profitable, easy to manage lesson options. If you insist on adding in oddball, “create your own adventure” unprofitable lesson choices online, you may get too many people registering in things that are bad for the studio. These items that were previously request only and kept under the desk can erode revenue once you post them online for everyone.

But can’t I still offer these things and just add them manually?

You could, but if they take up admin resources and are unprofitable and cannot be automated why would you want to keep them? If you want a clean, automatic operation in the future, start by changing your system now.

Covid has showed many businesses that the more things have changed, the more things you can change in your business too. All kinds of businesses use the covid excuse for policy changes they could have never done pre-covid. Most studios have taken a financial hit. You are not obligated to keep offering something at a loss. Students are now used to online lessons so we can suggest them for snow days. Change has been made easier by the “new normal” (I hate that saying – at least I didn’t say “paradigm”).

Get rid of any bad quirky programs at you have when you switch to an automated system.  It’s a great excuse. Just say: “Sorry our new system doesn’t work for that (terrible way of offering lessons we did) any more”. I’ve coached some studio owners to break the bad news to their special situation students and they are very happy that they finally pulled off the bandaid.

If holding on to unprofitable programs is a deal breaker for using our system, sit down and work it out logically to see if you have a good case against this change. If you have a large amount of customers and profit coming from doing things that way, keep doing it and don’t use our system. If your old way actually produces negligible revenue and you keep those offerings based on nostalgia and guilt - drop those programs. I promise offering 24-hour online registration of standardized profitable lessons will eventually make up for any revenue loss on those quirky ones.

When you start using StudioAutoPilot it will be like moving from an apartment to a new custom home with central air-conditioning. Yes, you could take the window mount air conditioner from your apartment and use it too, but it would be a waste of time, effort and money.
While I am on the business coaching rant, there is something I have seen 60% of studios do that costs them thousands of dollars in lost profit per year. These are smart, profitable and in some cases multi-location operations.  I won’t get into it right now; I’ll explain it when you are setting up your system. I will show you how our automation will fix that potential hole in your revenue bucket. In some cases that one small fix will more than pay for your entire yearly cost of StudioAutopilot each year forward because our technology has provided a solution. Even if you never get one new student from online registration, that tweak alone would be worth the entire cost. 
My goal for all studios in our program is ROI – return on investment. I want every $1000 you spend on our system to give you return a of $5000. Or $8000 or $10,000. With some of the plans we have for the future we will get there. We are just getting started with what is possible in a little area called AI. Roads!?? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

One of my beliefs about business as with many things in life is this: If it’s not fun, you are doing it wrong.

Playing an instrument should ultimately be fun. Sure, there is hard work and discipline to learn and practice it, but ultimately it is a thrill to be able to use your instrument to create.

I love creating things and I love having fun and having some laughs. Business can’t always be fun, but who says you can’t make it funny? Having a good time at a party is better than having a boring, serious time. You can choose to make your business fun. Even if your business is software. I love making software. It is like being the ultimate inventor. I wake up in the middle of the night a lot of times just thinking about ways we can do things better and really cool stuff we can add. For me this is not work. It is like having a job “working” as YoYo Ma or Jimmy Page. It’s living the dream. We are all living the dream by running our own businesses in a field we enjoy.
My joking attitude may turn some people off from using our software. I don’t care. In fact, good. That saves us both the trouble. I don’t want a bunch of customers or employees with no sense of humor who can’t take a joke. Our software is what you see is what you get and so am I.

Also, I won’t change or supress my personality to sell anything because I need a customer’s money. If you don’t like my ideas or attitude or don’t like my “tone” or the “cut of my jib” don’t be a customer. Easy.

We’ve been very blessed financially based on some commercial real estate decisions we made over the last 20 years and I could stop working any time and live large from a serious stream of rental income.  I’m pretty sure a studio doing everything manually who is considering StudioAutoPilot needs our system a lot more than I need their money.

I do the software because I was created to create (somebody say amen!).

I am happy to work with the right people, but I am also trying to repel the wrong people so they stay away with any negative “It will never work” attitudes. In 2009 I was in Silicon Valley and drove the prototype of the Tesla Roadster. A few months earlier, Elon Musk and Lesley Stahl from 60 minutes drove that same car for a story about the future of electric cars. After the test drive, I ordered a 2010 Roadster, one of the first ones in Canada and invested in some Tesla stock. People were telling me how risky things were and how it was unproven and how Tesla would go bankrupt and blah blah blah. Today I still have that Roadster and one more Tesla. The critics were all wrong and they did not get rewarded for their “intelligent” attitude towards what was coming in the future. I try to stay away from critics and naysayers. Their money is not welcome here. So far everyone on the journey to studio automation with me is happy to be here, even if the beta group has flown through a bit of turbulence after takeoff. They can see the direction we are heading now that we have broken through the clouds and we have already had quite a few laughs along the way.

So, if you’re the right person get on board (but you can stay on the ground, Mr. Grumpy pants). We will soar to new heights. It’s the only way to fly.

Yes, please email any questions you have to us at info@StudioAutoPilot.com 

Don't expect us to try to convince you to use our system, no matter what, and "answer all your objections". Go to any other software company and schedule a live demo with their  probably newly hired "product advisor specialists" if you're looking for that type of game.

If StudioAutopPliot seems like a good fit for you and there is just a bit of fear of change that is fine, we are all human. A bit of healthy skepticism is ok. For many studio owners this will be the biggest forward shift in their business ever. Slight motion sickness could be possible. I did a minor in psychology in university so I am never surprised at how emotional business decisions can end up being. If we think your studio is too square of a peg to run on StudioAutoPilot, also, we will be blunt and upfront and let you know.

OK, now you actually know the most important parts of StudioAutoPilot.

If you want to run on StudioAutoPilot in 2022, complete the reservation and application below. We will be configuring systems for new studios in the order we receive reservations. Based on the demand we had for our beta version, please be patient as we may need to work through a large number of reservations. After your reservation is submitted and approved, we will keep you updated about the new features that will be available in the full release version.

 



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