Teacher Hiring

This week I’d like to talk a little about hiring. It’s been a very productive week for us at mgrmusic.com and we’ve hired 8 new teachers. Hiring is something that many small businesses struggle to fit into their already jam-packed schedules.

When we hire new teachers, we have a process that we like to follow.

First of all, we have to find teachers that I feel will be a good fit for what we do. We want to speak to individuals who are motivated and hungry to grow their business and we hire based on locational needs. When we’re building a new page for a new town, we then have to find a teacher to fill that space.

My usual process involves an initial outreach where we initiate contact to get the conversation going before scheduling a call. Once a teacher signs up via the online form we provide, we then schedule a follow up call to get them geared up for the next step which is getting into our systems and seeing how it all works.

Once we’ve hired a teacher, we spend time with them to be sure they know how to use the platform and perform all the admin tasks. This is similar to the training that you’d typically go through when starting any job. We schedule some phone calls/Skype calls to walk over everything that needs to be discussed and be sure that everything is in place for that teacher to start receiving lessons.

For anyone who runs a service based business, they know that on boarding clients correctly is a core part of the sales process – after all this is it the first time a new client (in our case teacher) interacts with your business/product, so you want to make a great impression. It is also a time where they are likely to have the most questions, so ensuring that the support is there to help them in those early days is so important in setting up a long lasting partnership.


Small business update this week, one of the newly onboard teachers has joined as a Piano Teacher in Bournemouth, named Alicia Sanchez. Alicia is originally from Madrid and moved to England in recent years to study a for a Masters in Health Psychology at Bournemouth University.

She runs her piano lessons business as a mobile teacher and works with students around the area to share her knowledge. Alicia specialises in Classical music and is very well educated in the works of Chopin, Bach, Beethoven and Liszt. She can also teach a wide range of other styles. We are delighted to have her onboard and really excited to have now opened a new music hub in Bournemouth for piano lessons.

 

Posted under mgrmusic.com, Music Teachers

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 10, 2019

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UK Guitar Show

On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of September I travelled down to London to attend the UK Guitar Show. I had been planning to attend for a few months in order to facilitate some face to face relationships with companies I had already started speaking with but also just to catch up with people I already knew.

Events like this are wonderful for networking and getting to know the people behind the business. I spoke to a bunch of vendors from both big and small companies and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The show was so well organised, and everything was really easy to find.

Some of my favourite discussions happened with some great companies that manufacture guitar amplifiers such as Orange and Blackstar. Both companies make incredible amps and we often find teachers and students of mgrmusic.com singing the praises of small and large amps from both companies.

One really cool conversation was with the owner of a company called Chicken Picks. They produce high quality guitar picks using some unique design and manufacturing methods. We spoke at length not only about the product but about the ethos of the company and the people behind the brand. It was really interesting to find out how they make their picks and how they get them to market.

They engineer their picks from a thermosetting plastic which is harder and denser than standard guitar picks, therefore harder wearing and will last longer and more resistant to breaks and chips appearing with heavy use.

If that wasn’t cool enough, their manufacturing is based in Belgium and Germany where they actually give back to local communities. They employ staff from a company called Fivelingo which is a sheltered employment organization. Fivelingo prioritise employment opportunities for job seekers and they also provide income support to low income workers.

They offer workshops and opportunities for anyone to learn a skill and secure a great job. Sometimes we forget just how personal the supply chains of some smaller companies can be. We should do more to support companies like this.


We have recently brought onboard the amazing Greg Mudd as a bass teacher in Southampton. Greg is a highly respected player and has performed across the world in some fantastic venues. He has also taught bass at some incredibly prestigious institutions.

He is currently based at Portsmouth Naval Base where he works as the Professor of Bass Guitar for the Royal Marines Band Service and a lecturer of Developing the Musician at Southampton’s Solent University.

His list of qualifications is also impressive including a Masters Degree in Musicology, BA (hons) in Humanities and Music, Diploma in Music and more. We are excited to have Greg onboard and look forward to working with him in more detail.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 7, 2019

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Why YouTube Can Help Grow Your Business

Has the internet changed the way we all teach? I certainly think so. In 2019, there is a growing hungry for visual media. Many teachers are taking their cause to the internet and teaching via the medium of video. This could be pre-recorded lessons or live on Skype.

The reason for this is that the internet simply allows us to connect with more people. If you teach face to face, you’re somewhat limited geographically, but if you teach on Skype, location is no longer a factor. If you are a good teacher, you could teach from LA to Sri Lanka and everything in between, time zones permitting of course.

Many musicians are looking to places like Youtube to host their content to educate everyone, and the great news for the consumer is this is FREE. Video allows people to consume media anywhere, anytime and with the fast-paced ways of the modern world, this seems to be getting more and more normal.

The benefits as I said are that you can connect the whole world to your cause with relative ease and with social media as the biggest marketing tool, you could reach an audience of millions armed with only your knowledge and a camera.

Making this content is not always easy, it does often require good quality equipment that can capture high quality video and audio and the ability to manipulate these recordings after they are made to ensure they are polished and ready to go.

If you are just getting started with the idea of video lessons, a good quality HD camera and a small home recording set up will give you the ability to do this. Audio and video editing is an art form in it’s own right so there is certainly going to be some additional learning for you as you get into this process. There are plenty of resources out there to help you become a fantastic editor and have your videos looking polished and professional in no time.


We are excited to be working with the wonderful Toby Huelin as our Piano Teacher in York. Tony is a fantastic teacher, offering custom tailored piano lessons across all genres to his students. He is an incredibly versatile teacher and can play anything from Classical to Jazz as well as being as holding experience teaching in schools at KS2 through to A-Level in Music and Music Technology.

He has also taught music at Victoria College, Jersey College for Girls, Jersey Academy of Music and Blackheath Conservatoire. Toby also holds a First Class Degree in Music from the University of Oxford and a Masters in Composition at Distinction level from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Outside of teaching, Toby works as a composer for theatre, film and concert halls. His music has been heard in venues such as Maida Vale, Wigmore Hall, The Barbican and Abbey Road and performed by ensembles such as The BBC Singers, EXAUDI, The Cavaleri Quartet and more.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 26, 2019

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2Factor Authentication – Why Security Should be Central to Your Business

Security seems to be a recurring theme in these posts but once again here I am to discuss the importance of security to a business website. Over the last month I’ve been making a conscious effort to improve the security on the mgrmusic.com platform to ensure that business can run smoothly and safely for myself, all the teachers we work with and any students that use our platform.

With the increase of hacking attacks and viruses that you hear about targeting websites and their plugins, I’ve decided to upgrade all the security systems that keep things safe for us.

The biggest change that I have implemented is the inclusion of 2 Factor Authentication on all our website and email log ins. For anyone unfamiliar with the term 2 Factor Authentication (2FA for short), this is essentially an addition step to logging in that involves a second stage of verification. Many websites already use this as an option such as Facebook who will prompt you to enter a code displayed on your mobile when logging into an unrecognised device.

I have decided to go with Google Authenticator for the same purpose so when myself, other employees and teachers log into our platform, they are prompted to enter their email and password as usual, before being prompted to open an app on their phone to obtain a security code, this is the second factor of the authentication. This code allows the security software to know the person logging in is indeed the person who it should be.

So many big businesses get hacked on a regular basis and the impacts range from a temporary loss of service to a long-term loss of income. My goal as a business owner is to ensure that all the people that use my service never have to deal with the outcome of such attacks. I want my platform to be secure and reliable for all that use it.


We have recently welcomed the incredible Hannah Rose to the mgrmusic.com family under the Piano Lessons Manchester page. Hannah holds a Bachelor of Music from the Royal Northern College of Music and specialises in pop and classical music. She has an unbeatable work ethic, teaching at two music institutions in her local area as well as running her own private tuition business.

She works over graded curriculum with students and also provides lessons based around their own musical tastes and interests to ensure very dynamic learning. We look forward to seeing Hannah’s business grow and we are thrilled to have her onboard with us.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 13, 2019

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Business Partnerships

Let’s talk about networking and the power of community in business. Every business you see has links with other companies. There intertwining threads through business are the veins that carry the company’s lifeblood. Can one company exist without another? Sure, but it does help to have connections.

Building relationships in business is a powerful thing and it should never be overlooked. When it comes to relationship business it’s often worth remembering that you aren’t building a relationship with the company as an entity, but with an individual (or individuals) within that business. These relationships should be viewed almost like your friendship circles. The people within the companies that you have relationships with as essentially your “business friends”.

It’s these close-knit relationships that allow you to maintain a great working relationship.

Never underestimate the importance of face-to-face networking. This is often a great way to get started with building relationships. I find that cold-email or cold-calling a company that you want to work with is often met with barriers, because to that company, you don’t have a face.

If you really want to network and get to know the people behind companies, get out there and meet them. Whatever your industry, check online and on social media for any networking events. It is often possible to see which companies will be attending, and sometimes even the person at that company.

If you feel you have a relationship worth building and you can offer them something in return, you can make it your aim to meet the person on the other end of that potential partnership. Things will blossom more in a face-to-face setting.

The digital age allows us to stay in touch electronically, and any face to face relationships that you build on, you can follow up with emails shortly after to keep that contact up. What is your business and what sort of companies do you think you would be able to form a beneficial partnership with? Make a list and get out there and shake some hands.


Now for a business update, we’ve recently taken on a new teacher in Liverpool heading up our Piano Lessons Liverpool website. Her name is Sophie Leaver and she is a multi-instrumentalist who graduated with a First in Music from the University of Liverpool. She also holds a Masters Degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy which she obtain in September 2018.

Sophie is an accomplished pianist, singer and guitar player and has performed at a range of festivals, sporting events and even on the ITV series Victoria.

Sophie started teaching in 2017 in New York before moving her teaching business to the Merseyside area of Liverpool.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019

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Continuous Systems Improvement

Off the back of me discussing some of the lessons learned from the recent spam attack, I took the opportunity to make some important updates and implemented some new procedures to increase security and also improve a lot of other administrative processes along the way.

One thing that I’ve recently improved is the websites database systems. Due to the nature of the business, we receive a high volume of enquiries from potential students all around the UK. The unfortunate nature of dealing with high volume in a small business is that sometimes things could get missed, or as I’ve also seen, technology plays a part in the item not arriving with us even though the customer has submitted it.

I’ve made some back-end updates to the website which now provide a timestamp to all submitted entries. This means, even if an email physically does not arrive in our inbox, there will be a marker of this in the database. This means if a customer contacts us to say they got in touch but did not hear back, I can simply retrieve the entry from the database and deal with it right away. This saves us extra time and saves the customer from having to resubmit their request.

These increased records will improve our overall efficiency and also free up some all-important time to work on other aspects of the business too.

I have also made some important updates to our phone service which now provides each locational webpage with its own local phone number. This allows us to retrieve voicemails much faster and send them to the local teachers in a timelier manner. Previously the voicemails all collected in a central repository with no location indicator.


Quick business update, we’ve recently taken on a new singing teacher based in Newcastle that will be heading up our Singing Lessons Newcastle. We are so pleased to welcome Jay Hepple onboard to share his knowledge and experience with students.

Jay is not only a fantastic singing teacher, but he also performs up and down the UK on a regular basis with his band Groove Allstars at weddings and functions. You may also have heard him sing as part of SoulTown at one of the many Haven Holiday Parks around the country. He’s even sung on stage with Take That on their recent Greatest Hits Tour as part of their choir. Pretty cool huh?

Jay holds a 1stClass BA Honours in the Music Industry from the Academy of Music and Sound in Gateshead.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019

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Spam Email Attack

So this week’s business update here, and this time it’s got a valuable lesson attached. Recently, some of the mgrmusic.com website contact forms fell victim to a spam attack. This type of attack is a bot-based attack which doesn’t directly affect the website, but the bot uses the contact form as a proxy to send emails out to multiple recipients.

These types of attacks work based on the contact form replying to the submitter with an auto reply. For instance, if you typed in the body of the text “Win £100” and entered your email in the field, our system would generate an auto reply to you and a copy of the text you submitted. The bot had used out system to email spam to a substantial number of emails, as we pay per email it also incurred a quite significant bill. Indeed, it was a bit of a perfect storm that highlighted a security vulnerability in our systems that needed resolving.

So, what did we learn? I mentioned last time that I was working on some integration with ReCapcha and we have rebuilt our contact forms from the ground up to prevent this happening in future. I have also been keen to increase security across the business, adding in 2 factor authentication on all business email logins and will look to do the same with websites. I would recommend that you do the same as well for your start-up, after all the cost of getting it wrong can literally put you out of business – no matter what size your company is.

One aspect of this that I really want to share with you is that as business owners we abstract business problems away from clients – it is part of the service we provide by default. Certain things should never make it to the client view of the business as it’s not something they should ever have to worry about when using your service.

In my case, I don’t want my teachers to be concerned with web security or the websites running as planned, but due to this attack I had to take various websites offline for 24 hours to increase security measures which placed this issue in the view of my teachers. This broke that invisible shield that you as a business owner abstract away from the client, suddenly teachers wanted to know why their websites were down and what was the cause of the attack – in other words the client became concerned with a business issue.

A good example of this scenario is in recent years when KFC changed suppliers and various branches ran out of chicken due to a change in suppliers. This meant, instead of the customers arriving and just using the service they expect (ordering their bucket of chicken!), they were then aware of issues with the supply chain. Not a great look for the company, after all you just want your customers to be thinking “wow this is great chicken”.

It is these moments, often of very high stress that you see how your company can cope with a setback and then how you can improve your systems/processes by resolving it in such a way that it could never happen again. This is what I hope that we achieved this week.


Piano Lessons Nottingham

Here is a small business update to round this off, we’ve recently started working with the fantastic Chloe Leak who will be the teacher on our Piano Lessons Nottingham page. Chloe brings many years of experience along with her and we are very excited to have her on board.

Chloe obtained her music teaching diploma in 2017 and knew from the age of 10 she wanted a career in music. She was committee to playing piano from a young age and now wants to share that knowledge and experience with students in the city of Nottingham

Nottingham has a thriving music scene with lots of new bands and great venues all around so it’s wonderful to see a new generation of musicians coming through under Chloe’s guidance.

I look forward to seeing Chloe’s business grow and grow.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on August 24, 2019

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