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Changing payment requirements

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by elzbells, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. elzbells

    elzbells New commenter

    Have many of you changed the way you request payment and if so, how have parents reacted?

    I currently tutor 8 primary age children. All is going really well apart from a select few who regularly cancel sessions for various reasons (glasses need fixing, dad is away so she hasn’t got time to bring him, she needs to pack for a school residential, and some unavoidable illness).
    I’ve had 7 cancellations this month alone. I left a 15 year teaching career last August (for the usual reasons) so whilst I secure a new day job, this is my only source of income. 7 sessions in a month is a huge financial loss for me. so....
    I’m considering writing up a new contract requesting parents to pay upfront monthly. If they can’t make a session I will offer them an alternative time but if they can’t make that either then unfortunately they will lose the money. I feel bad doing it for illness as they can’t help that but I feel like they will just say they are ill even if there is another real reason why they don’t want to/can’t bring them. I know my consistent parents will be more than happy to do this but not sure how my regular absentees will take it, for obvious reasons.
    any experience/advice please?
  2. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    There are quite a few threads on here where we have discussed cancellation policies. One tutor did lose a lot of business when they changed their cancellation policy so just be aware of that. Personally I introduced one at the beginning of the year and most of the parents have been good about it and I didn't lose any business. I don't always enforce it, but just having one helps. I had one student last term who I had to cancel one lesson with and he cancelled two due to illness (they pay upfront). So I made up the lesson I cancelled and I gave him one 'free' lesson over the Xmas holidays. Which they seemed very pleased with.
  3. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I don't have a cancellation policy but I know many tutors do. I think you just have to go with what you feel comfortable with. It might depend on whether you think you'll be able to fill the spaces if your regular absentees decide not to continue. If you browse through some of the previous threads on here you'll find a variety of opinions and experiences.
  4. suzette

    suzette Occasional commenter

    Ideally you should aim to make payment changes at the beginning of the clients tutoring contract with you; or failing that at the beginning of terms. Generally I make sure that payment is in my business account 24hrs before the lesson & it's usually 2wks lessons up front.

    With regards to the parents/clients reasons for cancellations, I do think yours are taking the p**s! Having to pack for a school residential, isn't a plausible reason to cancel with no notice. I only accept illness/sickness or serious accidents (& even that shouldn't be a regular occurrence). I accept holidays & special occasion cancellations with at least 24-48 hrs notice.

    I think you have to be firmer with your clients. The ones that don't take the mickey will like the air of professionalism and the ones that are taking advantage of your good nature will either step in line or go, but frankly it's better to get rid of them anyway.
  5. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    I've posted this before on other threads but will mention that I am fortunate in that I have a long waiting list and can easily replace students.

    I invoice half termly in advance and allow 1 non payable prebooked absence per half term per child. If they cancel after they've paid for any reason then they lose their money. If I cancel, they get a refund, account credit or free session - whichever they prefer.

    I had to introduce this after a year of cancellations like you describe. One parent left in a huff, calling me rude and uncaring, the others signed the contract and have suddenly stopped cancelling for anything other than genuine reasons! I've had 2 genuine cancellations this year so far and have managed to offer them both free, goodwill sessions in prebooked absence slots.

    The vast majority of parents aren't organised enough to pre book absences, but that's not really my problem and they accept that.

    I also have an online shop for all ad hoc and holiday tuition. Parents have to pay there and then to secure the place if they want a session . The small card fees are worth not having to chase them and constantly relisting sessions people have requested but not bothered to pay the invoice for.

    As long as you make your system really transparent, consistent and fair then the only clients you will lose are those who intend to mess you around. Give them plenty of notice, so they can go elsewhere if they wish to. Most out of school and holiday activities operate in exactly this way so it's not unreasonable.
    Veerwal likes this.
  6. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    That's interesting, what did you say in response, were you just professional? I'm guessing you weren't in danger of being left a bad review by this parent on some tutoring website or with an agency?

    My policy is to overbook my schedule with a lot of students and then allow people to cancel around once a term with no consequences, though letting them know that if it happens more then I might charge them or they might lose their slot in my timetable.
  7. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    I just said that I completely understood that my new terms and conditions wouldn't suit everyone and that I wished her and her child the best for the future. She was cancelling around a third of all lessons and I think she felt it was personal again at her. I had about 4 that were doing this so something had to change.

    If I had time I'd prefer to overlook, but I'm working at capacity and can't afford to have spaces 'empty but reserved' if you know what I mean.
  8. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    And no, I don't use agencies generally for private clients.
  9. Abitofeverything

    Abitofeverything Occasional commenter

    I would advise half termly rather than monthly. I charge up front per half term. I still get the odd cancellation and I try to move it if at all possible, but Im talking two or three per half term. I have to organise and pay for childcare in order to tutor, and this is my income which I rely on. I would strongly recommend doing it this way. Good luck
    Veerwal likes this.
  10. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    That sounds like an excellent system so organised!
  11. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    It's taken 4/5 years of tweaking to get to this point! When I first started I used to let people pay on the day and had a 24 hour cancellation policy. Sadly too many took advantage of this so I was forced to change the way I worked.
    ellenlilymay likes this.
  12. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    Please could you give a little more detail about how you set the card payment/online shop?
  13. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    If you go to 10to8 online it's very easy. You can set it up so it shows your terms and conditions and ask for parents to agree to them electronically at the point of booking etc.

    Feel free to message me if you need a hand. I'll message you....
    Veerwal and bramblesarah like this.
  14. Veerwal

    Veerwal New commenter

    Hi @alsoamum, I hope you don't mind me jumping on this thread but I too could do with learning from your experience if that's ok. I've been tutoring a shortage subject for around 5 years now and have currently a max of 4 students (always through word of mouth). However, I have now decided to leave 'school' teaching and focus on expanding my tutoring (while doing supply work). I've ordered some books on amazon recommended in other threads. Would you mind if I pm you if I've got questions pls?
  15. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

  16. ellenlilymay

    ellenlilymay New commenter

    I've found this thread extremely interesting as I have decided to get into private tutoring having been a teacher and lecturer for 27 years. To give you a giggle my only-second-client-ever turned up penniless and it was only after a week that I received the fee. As you can imagine it will be the last time I see them.
  17. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    Reasons to insist on advance payments only....
  18. avalon1

    avalon1 New commenter

    I do not ask for advance payments as I have good ratings and charge at the top end and this would be financially hard for some. However, I now tell every new pupil that if I will allow one cancellation per term free of charge, anymore than this they will have to pay for the cancellation or have an addition lesson to make up for the loss. Nearly all my pupils accept this, I have only had one new pupil that has cancelled more than one lesson, given me a sob story and not paid...I have now replaced them with another pupil. You are running a business and have to be hard if it is your only source of income.
    SayItLikeItIs likes this.
  19. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    My cancellation policy is similar to yours, in that I allow three cancellations per year. Your condition that they have to pay for the cancellation or have an additional lesson to make up for the loss is really useful, and it hadn't occurred to me to include this wording before. I think it would really strengthen my cancellation policy to include this, especially as I hate baldly just having to ask them to pay when they've cancelled too many times. I've just had a parent who said her child couldn't come and asked me for another session instead. But when I then offered her replacement lesson options on three out of the other four week days, guess what? She couldn't make any of them. The inclusion of having to accept an additional/replacement session will really strengthen my hand there. Thank you @avalon1!

    But I don't currently have students lining up to take the place of someone who cancels too often. For me, it's purely a matter of respect. If parents don't do this, then they're out! Luckily I can survive the financial peaks and troughs.
  20. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Troublesome students and/or their parents soon tip their hand, cancelling and changing lessons at short notice, never having 'been to the bank today', so just dump them. They are not worth the hassle.
    alsoamum likes this.

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