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Students cancel lessons.

Davey

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Im in the need for some advice for a friend of mine.

My friend started her own lessons for children aged 4 to 12 in 3 different locations for about 5 times a week. As she just started with it she doesn't have that many students yet but little by little she is getting more.

The problem is, the kids pay per lesson but too often parents cancel the lessons as the kids are busy with other things etc. As they pay per lesson she doesn't get any income from these students although she does have to pay rent for the locations. I guess normally parents would pay per month and have a certain amount of make up lessons per year. As she just started she doesn't want to ask parents to pay per month , although I think it would make things easier.

An idea I thought of that parents would buy a certain amount of tickets in advance, so she has an income.

Anyway if you guys have any suggestions I would love to hear them.
 

Mike Cash

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You pretty much have to do it on a per month basis or you end up with exactly the problem your friend has. Since there is no penalty to them for cancelling/missing a lesson, everything else is automatically a higher priority. When they lose money for not showing up, then the other things become a lower priority; the English lesson will become the "other thing they're busy with".

She will discover that it tends to be the same people who make a habit out of doing things like this. If she's worried about changing because she's worried about losing them, she's really better off without them. They're costing her money in two ways: one in lost rent for the facility; one in lesson fees from teaching somebody else who would actually show up.

The ticket idea will only work if it is understood that scheduling a lesson burns a ticket whether the student shows up to the lesson or not. Otherwise you just end you with the same problem.
 

thomas

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I totally agree with Mike. Many schools stipulate that classes need to be cancelled at least 24 hours before they are scheduled to start. Therefore whoever cancels within that period will bear the risk of cancellation - students or teachers. Otherwise students will cancel because of rain, hangover, or similar trivialities. Such a clause might be useful in your friend's case too as she has overhead expenses (rent).
 

Lothor

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As the above posters said, it is essential to penalise people who cancel at short notice. If you don't, you will be messed about (I've experienced this myself). This may even be more of a problem in Japan than in other countries with the 'customer is God' culture here.

One of my self-employed friends simply told students that they would be liable for the whole of the cost of the lesson if they cancelled at short notice or did not turn up, which worked fine for him - it may not be necessary to have a monthly payment system.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I don't teach, but my clients sign a contract when we start working together which stipulates fees and penalties for cancellations and missed appointments.

I give one free cancellation per year due to emergency, all others are charged at full rate if cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment.

Payment is due within 48 hours of invoice or a penalty fee is incurred. Additionally, no further sessions will be held with outstanding bills.
 

thesuker

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The place where I work charges on a monthly basis but, if the students have to cancel, they get the option of going to a make up class, so the school gets a monthly income and the student gets four classes a month. Everybody wins :)
 

Glenski

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Yup, you have to go on a monthly basis. There are even special envelopes for people to use for that, so you can receive the monthly payment, date and sign the envelope, and give back the empty for next time. Penalties are merely that the parents lose the money. Guilt is a good thing to use against Japanese in order to get paid properly.
 

KyushuWoozy

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Learning a language is like climbing a ladder.

Even for kids that age, the teacher needs to follow a curriculum that advances their language skills step by step. Assuming the students are taught in classes rather than privately (1-on-1), then having so many students MIA must really mess the class up as some students are on higher rungs of the ladder while others (who have skipped lessons) are far below. In the end it will become a chaotic teaching environment and everybody will suffer.

Many of the previous posts suggest good solutions - your friend needs to adopt one of them.
 

tomoni

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Going monthly is a good thing, but that also leads into some problems. The child knows that they're going to cancel the first two lessons because of a wedding and then something else, so rather than pay for the whole month when they know well in advance are only going 2 times, they will cancel the whole month. But overall, the monthly system will ensure a steadier income. The other thing you can do is make up yearly plan so that they expect to get X number of lessons per year and prepare the yearly schedule. The yearly fee is this much divided by 12 months so you should pay this much a month, but you're not paying for the month you are paying an installment on the yearly fee



But at the minimum, What I suggest is that you have parents pay monthly in advance so the May lesson fee should be paid on the last week of April. You can get monthly stamp envelopes that you can put a little stamp on each month as the student pays this is quite normal in Japan, and most parents will understand if you use the system.

It is the same deal for piano lessons ballet lessons and so on.
 

cocoichi

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Since this topic was brought up again, it made me think about it more.

I have no experience in running an English school or class in Japan, but maybe I can pitch in from a marketing point of view.

I have some ideas for making students return to you, and they are free of charge:
- People like rewards and recognition for their effort. You could design a course that results in a certificate. You could create certificates for various fields (customer service, negotiation, travel (for adults), for children you could create awards for completing a certain aspect, such as knowing all the colors, animals, whatever). The purpose of this is not that people think that your certificate gives them a 50.000 yen monthly promotion, but to feel good about themselves, and it awakes the desire to obtain something.

- Never finish a lesson. This will give people the feeling that they can quit at certain checkpoints. Well, they can of course, but they should get the feeling that they will miss out on a lot of fun and interesting stuff if they don't show up next time. For example, set short term goals that require at least a certain amount of lessons. Don't set goals that can be reached at the end of that particular lesson.

- Design a reward that is effective every time someone comes back. For example, you can create a funny looking flyer with 10 or 20 items on it. And give it to everyone during their first lesson. One item could be 10% discount that lesson, one could be the teacher will wear a christmas hat, one could be to bring a parent/child/neighbour/coworker (or each of those!) for a free trial lesson, one could be to teach in the park that day. Be creative.
 
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