Get them to pay one week in advance so they are always one week in front. x
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Cancellation Policies (All Teachers)
November 12, 2015 at 3:23 am #1452Kat HunterParticipant
This is probably my least favourite thing about teaching. That moment when you get a no-show and you have to call them up and remind them about your policy. Usually this is the moment where the great students apologise and offer to pay straight away, but I’ve had some people just not reply and disappear off the map. My only technique thus far is to have a written version of the policy that students sign right at the start at the end of the first lesson. But when push comes to shove, this still makes me feel awkward.
Any tips on how to get around this? (Especially for teachers who are usually paid cash)
November 12, 2015 at 10:13 am #4475November 13, 2015 at 12:20 am #4474
Great idea! Do you introduce this right at the start? Are people nervous about paying for two classes at once when they’ve just joined up?November 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm #4442
Due to a strict and clearly communicated system, I am rarely messed around. Sometimes you just can’t avoid the odd let down, which Matthew refers to as “bad debt” which you just write off and move on as you can’t exactly go to court for the sake of £30.
My system is: Upon booking a first lesson, I inform the student straight away that the first lesson is cash in hand and that 48 hours’ notice is required for cancellations. I also inform them that upfront monthly payments are required after their initial lesson if they’re happy to continue.
For first lessons though, there’s literally nothing you can do except trust them. I haven’t had a problem too often though, but if you need to cover yourself for those first lesson no-shows, I have a teacher that takes upfront paypal payment online even for first lessons, which also includes a £10 deposit.November 14, 2015 at 7:45 pm #4441
I would like to add that you should never be shy of detailing the policy at the start. This is how you can gage how serious and committed the student is. And it’s your business after all, and most people understand and respect that 🙂November 14, 2015 at 10:13 pm #4440
I take all new bookings through my online booking system, where they pay for a lesson via Paypal. Since implementing this system I have completely removed the problem of ‘no shows’ – I generally like to think that if they won’t pay in advance for a lesson then they are not serious or committed for the lessons. I also ask for 48 hours notice for cancellation to be entitled to a refund.
In the first lesson I let the student know that I ask for them to pay a lesson in advance from the second lesson. Most people have been understanding of this and I never really have a problem with it. If they do ask why I do this I tell them that it is to secure their lesson in advance as well as provides them with security knowing that the lesson is already paid for if they for example, forget to bring payment on one lesson, they can then pay the lesson in advance from the next time to put them back to where they were. I also get everyone to sign a pre-prepared student agreement which I make a copy of for them to take home 🙂November 16, 2015 at 5:30 am #4439
Becki, that’s a great way of doing things! Very clever. Do people keep paying for lessons via paypal after that first booking, or do you get them to pay cash once that deposit is down? I always shy away from using paypal in an ongoing way for fear they take too much of a cut from my incomings…November 16, 2015 at 11:26 pm #4438
After the initial lesson most pay in cash and some by cheque. I also offer block bookings with a discount and I have just in the past month introduced a loyalty scheme which has received really good feedback 🙂
But I know what you mean about Paypal taking a cut, which is why I prefer cash/cheque in the lessons but by paying online it just secures that first lesson and I know I am not wasting my time waiting around for people!December 2, 2015 at 10:23 am #4411
Phil SchneiderParticipant@Phil_SchneiderPoints: 149
I hate to think of how much money I have lost via no shows.Even when the policy of 48 hours notice there is the problem of irregular attendance. For instance three 49 hour notice cancellations in a row. I have a rule not always explicit. Three no shows with no payment in a row the student may need to be asked to find a more accomodating teacher or take a floating spot i.e. Email them with free times for the week ahead. This can suit busy/erratic students as well as the teacher.December 2, 2015 at 10:59 am #4410
3 no shows in a row?! Tell them to stop wasting your time and bugger off!!December 28, 2015 at 10:14 am #4199
OK, so I’m going to enforce a new cancellation policy next year because I’m finding that the 24 hour one isn’t working for me (i’m getting people cancelling exactly 25 hours in advance ha! And it’s still not enough time to reschedule someone else in that spot). So I want to go to 48 hours. I think it’s also a good idea to take monthly payments at the start of the month or at least to have people paying a week in advance…
I’m not sure about charging people 100% of the fee though with 48 hours. Because with 48 hours if people get sick they definitely won’t know that far in advance. So I’m thinking I should make the cancellation fee 75% (I charge a fair bit here so maybe this is more reasonable).
I’m not sure if I’m being too soft. What do you guys think? do you have a problem with your policies when people get sick?December 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm #4198
My 48 hour policy has never been a problem and people still pay full price if they are ill! You could always trial it?December 29, 2015 at 10:14 pm #4197
True! I don’t know why I get so nervous over this stuff! Good to have y’all here backing me up!December 30, 2015 at 10:28 am #4196
Hey Beckie, what’s your loyalty scheme? It sounds like a really good idea.December 30, 2015 at 12:32 pm #4195
As becky has mentioned, we introduced the online booking system for new starters a while ago and its very successful.
If you were to tackle it from another angle it would be to offer the *first lesson free* which is like a consultation in which builds trust and attracts more students, you would then at the end of the lesson get them to pay for the next lesson and then always be one week in front, this way if they stop lessons you are covered etc, I would do this if you have slots you need to fill but if you are full vet them on the phone and if in doubt don’t book them in without some form of security
the block booking of ten lessons with ten percent discount can work out the same as first lesson free I would make sure they know to book within 28 days etc if its a gift voucher
🙂December 30, 2015 at 1:55 pm #4194
I have had some loyalty cards made up from Vistaprint (pretty much your generic card you get from coffee shops for example), and once the student has got 10 stamps on the card they get a free half hour lesson, or I do an hour lesson for £10 as then it works out the same.
I only give them out after they have been coming for lessons for 6 months or more though, but I suppose you could give them out whenever you want!December 30, 2015 at 3:47 pm #4162
Vouchers have to be booked within 28 days?! Goodness, mine are 3 months, and my Dad even thought that was too tight!! But actually, any meal voucher usually requires a month for you to book, come to think of it…December 30, 2015 at 7:12 pm #4161
Yes I will put that on them from now on not all lessons have to be used just mean at least book them in because, How strange is this, LAST YEAR someone brought ten lessons I must have forgotten about it and they didn’t book in, they have contacted me THIS year asking about the lessons as the mum brought them for her son and he never booked in, sof I’m not really sure what to say they have sent me credit card bill in which they had 10 lessons for price of nine, strange one!January 4, 2016 at 2:41 am #4160
The vista print loyalty card idea is a really good one! I might even use it for people who pay for “9 lessons, get one free” bundle up front, so they can keep track of how many lessons they’ve used. Awesome 🙂January 4, 2016 at 2:18 pm #4159
Dave RutherfordParticipant@Dave_RutherfordPoints: 14
I have had some issues with this over the 13 years I’ve taught.
1) Tried the week in advance. People forget, especially when they have had lessons without issue for a long period of time. You still don’t avoid the conversation of “You missed your lesson so now need to pay a week ahead again before I will book you in”. So really it’s quite a short term solution, ie. for one missed lesson.
2) Charging in advance is great, given an incentive, I do 5 lessons for the price of 4 as a startup plan, then you can pay monthly if you’d like. I stipulate from the get go – if you miss a lesson I will charge you for it. It does not work both ways if I cancel you – you do not lose a wage.
3) A written agreement – I am just putting these out now after having it out over the course of 3 weeks or so with a very difficult parent. The trick I found was be ready and willing to let that lesson go if they do not abide by your rules. Once the weak link in the chain – they will always be the weak link in the chain. Why should you take a fee off a lovely lesson and let them off? If word gets around (which is easy to happen) – you look bad. I always say “It’s the same rules for everyone, and no different if this was a dentist or solicitor appointment, I can’t take a fee off others and not you, I can recommend another tutor if you really don’t want to continue, but I wouldn’t want you to do that…. etc.
4) I offer this: You must pay for your lesson if you cancel within 48 hours, or don’t show up, unless you can rearrange it to another day. I say “I would rather you get what you pay for and I’m not in the business of taking money off people who didn’t have a lesson, however I am very busy so it’s not always possible”. This way, I look good to the student/parent, and if they cancel on Monday, and I can fit them in Thursday the same week – no problem. Most of the time I can rearrange, but I won’t put myself out to do so, it’s more of a gesture, and most of my students are spot on. I’ll post my agreement in here shortly. Hope this helps some of you.
Stand your ground, it’s your business, your rules, your way – or they can go elsewhere, which won’t be as good anyway.January 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm #4158
Danny BinningtonParticipant@Danny_BinningtonPoints: 10
There’s been some incredibly good points raised on this thread!
I think for me personally, the key above all else is just maintaining a good personal relationship with the student and ensuring they feel like they can approach you at any time.
I use the whole 48 hours or be charged the full price idea, but sometimes showing that you’re human and understand does go a long way. For example, if you have someone booked in first thing in the morning, say 10am. They wake up at 8:30am vomiting and ring you to cancel, in my opinion charging someone for this (despite the fact it’s only business) would diminish my relationship with that student. Thus, in future, they’re more likely to lie to you, or just not show up even though they’re genuinely ill because they’re thinking ‘Crap, I don’t want to pay £25 out again for being sick’.
For me personally, I have found being like this right from the get go seems to minimalize the number of no shows I have gotten. 🙂
Hope this helps!
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