Colleen H., Michigan
I have a family of 2 boys that are giving me problems with missed lessons. In the early spring of this past year the mom didn’t want to pay for missed lessons while they went on vacation so had them quit for the summer rather than finish out the 8 wks. that were left of the school year. She is coming back for lessons in Sept. but is already asking about me being flexible with her schedule in the spring. I reminded her again that my policy is that you pay for missed lessons so she is going to quit 2 months early again rather than pay for the 2 weeks they will be gone next spring. I am going to Singapore for 2 weeks in Oct. and she argues 1) that I am able to take time off but she isn’t and 2) she is giving me notice in advance of her absence so why should she have to pay. As I see it, my only alternative is to quit teaching them but I hate to lose them as students since my student load is very light. On the other hand, I am irritated that I will lose 2 months of payments as well as it being a time of year that is difficult to fill the time slot that she gives up. I feel she is controlling the situation and I don’t like that. Any suggestions? By the way, we attend the same church and live in a small community so I am hoping to come up with a win/win solution if at all possible.
Joanne D., Australia
It sounds a bit tricky and you definitely need to take back control as it could be a claiming territory issue. You are providing a fantastic service and deserve to be paid rightly for it. Sounds like she is taking advantage of you.
Here’s my thoughts:
I would consider implementing an enrolment fee of a substantial amount which would apply to re-enrolments too. It is extra administration time for you every time they drop in and out so you need to be paid for that. If you made the fee $25 each time and your lessons are $25 then they would only be saving 1 week by dropping out for their holidays. I’m considering doing that at the moment as have had a few students discontinue, go on holidays and then return later. Or you could alternatively offer ½ price tuition for the 2 weeks to hold their spot for them.
I would act as though you have a nearly full studio (if she doesn’t know otherwise) and let her know you can’t guarantee the same day and time would be available when they re-enroll.
Some teachers I know have a term fee which remains the same regardless of the number of weeks in the term. Some terms have 10 weeks some 9 and some 11 weeks. The term fee is the same regardless of the number of weeks in it.
Another studio I know of teaches all year round and expect students to pay every week of the year with the following exceptions: They allow students to take 2 lessons off without paying if they give notice and they close for 2 weeks over Christmas which they don’t charge for.
Good luck with this situation. It might end up being better for you to let this family go once you decide to stand firm on your policies.
Francine V., Australia
Can you tell her that it’s like enrolling for a season of football? If you enroll for a term, you pay for the term – if you miss training or a game you don’t get your money back. When you enroll for the season you don’t get it cheaper because you are planning a holiday. It’s exactly the same. Or the same as a season of swimming lessons. Or school. Or any activity our children do!!!! You are running a business, and you must run it the same way that everyone else does.
I would definitely not let her do that. If you are in a small town and she is doing this, then everyone else you that get from that town will think it’s ok to do the same. Don’t start out by letting the whole town run your business.
Put a stop to it now. The other students you pick up along the way will know your rules from the very beginning.
Two weeks is such a short amount of time to miss–it seems a terrible loss to have the family take a 2 month break because of the 2 week vacation!
In my studio, if students miss lessons due to a vacation they are taking during weeks that I am teaching, I simply do my best to either 1) give them a longer lesson (equal to 2 lessons) either before and/or after their vacation, or 2) schedule them for 2 lessons per week either before and/or after they are away.
This way, they still get the “x” number of lessons that I teach per year (for me it’s 44) and which I guarantee they will receive, regardless of vacation times for them or for me!
It works beautifully and usually seamlessly for me. I hope this helps!