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Do you always enforce your cancellation policy?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by bramblesarah, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    Hi guys,
    Just looking for everyone's thought and experiences as I have found them very useful in the past.
    So have reading a couple of threads on here I introduced a cancellation policy a few months ago. I have sent it out over email a couple of times to all the parents. I was hoping just having a policy would stop last minute cancellations. My policy is for non-emergencies I need 1 weeks notice. I have also sent out emails confirming lesson times to all my parents. Giving them chance to tell me about holidays e.c.t.
    So I turned up at a child's house today and she wasn't there, she has gone to her grandparents house for a few days. Her dad was very apologetic. They are a lovely family and they have just forgotten. I don't want to burn any bridges but as it is the summer I could do with the money. Maybe a warning or something? What are your experiences ?
    Thanks :)
  2. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Personally, I think a week is a bit long for notice. For regular students I'd happy accept 24 hours notice unless it happened too frequently. My rule of thumb is that if they're good customers who don't take the mick, I'll be flexible. The cancellation policy is for those who repeatedly cancel and for me it's pretty much three - or even two - strikes and you're out.
  3. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    Okay thanks for that. You are right they are normally good and never cancel in term-time they just forget sometimes in the holidays. :)
  4. ladyofrohan

    ladyofrohan New commenter

    If I turn up and they aren't there, I charge. I only require 24 hours notice for cancellations and I always try and offer an alternative if they cancel with less than 24 hours but turning up to an empty house - they are being really disrespectful!

    What I also found helped was giving a monthly invoice, so lessons are paid for in advance and they have a list of the dates. Then if they need to rearrange, we can discuss it right at the start of the month.
  5. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I've found that goodwill goes a long way and if for an unexpected reason a student cancels I tend not to charge. This isn't really out of kindness it is more a business calculation. If I'm petty they may cancel permanently also if I'm stuck in traffic I may need to cancel and they may then ask for a free lesson. I have only one student who has cancelled more than once and they are now inconveniencing me. My solution will probably be to lose them.
    blue451 likes this.
  6. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    If I actually turn up and they're not there I would expect them to pay.

    During the holidays I find it's a good idea to send a text to remind them, especially if we didn't have a lesson the previous week. Sometimes they don't read emails.
  7. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I must admit that in the holidays I have twice forgotten lessons and in both cases they were very understanding so a bit of give and take is required. I suppose in 20 years of tutoring (about 20,000 lessons) that's not too bad.
    briancant likes this.
  8. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I am flexible with my cancellation policy. It's generally there for if I need it but I find that like others said goodwill works both ways. In the hols I often check at the start. I usually find that the secondary kids I don't see all summer and the little ones tend to be on a bit of an ad hoc basis. I have other students as well with it being languages so my income isn't completely depleted in the holidays .
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Some flexibility is best - and it can sometimes go both ways. A cancellation policy is very wise, ready for anyone who takes the mick, but waiving it for genuine illness or when plenty of notice is given is appreciated.

    If you've actually turned up to their house, though, I think they can't expect not to pay - it might be slightly different if you'd had a last minute call that morning saying "we forgot to tell you..."

    If you're feeling generous, you could perhaps not charge the full whack - but do it by giving them a half-price lesson in the autumn, so that your cash flow desn't suffer - I'm sure they must understand the problem of fluctuating income.
  10. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    I had never even thought of charging up front until a new parent asked if I wanting paying up front about 2 months ago. Do you find it's a lot of extra paper work? My issue with introducing anything new is that it is easy with any new clients but a lot harder with existing clients. I put my prices up for new clients around Christmas time last year but I haven't asked my existing clients to pay more until September which makes it confusing about who pays what ( though I suppose an invoice would help that problem). I also tell all new clients I only teach at home and they have to come to me but all my old clients I still drive to. One of my youngest students is only in year 3 So I will have her for the next 8 years so it's a long time to wait to introduce anything new!
  11. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    I charge upfront and it has virtually eliminated this type of scenario. If someone genuinely forgets and they are usually reliable, then I might offer to rearrange if I can at a time that suits me.

    If you waive the fee this time, they will likely expect it again from my experience. If you charge them, they probably won't do this to you again. People suddenly get better memories and become more organised when it's their money that's at stake instead of yours.

    I also make any changes for ALL students at the same time, no matter how long they've been with me. I tend to tell them about any changes by the end of the summer term and I implement them from September for everyone.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  12. suzette

    suzette Occasional commenter

    If turned up and the student wasn't there, then I have to charge. I have a couple of students where I have to drive to them and with traffic etc, it can take around 30mins (or more at times) to drive to their house.

    Their parents know that I'm doing them a huge favour coming to them, rather than the other way round so even if they forgot, I would charge. Petrol cost money, resources cost money, printer cartridge costs (a lot!) of money, so a charge is necessary for non-urgent cancellations.

    Even with my 'good' clients who rarely cancel, they know to expect a charge if they cancel with less than 24hrs notice. They're ok with this, so they wouldn't kick off or stop tutoring with me because of this.
  13. hoalarg

    hoalarg New commenter

    I charge regardless. I have a student who is always ill, so if I rearranged or didn't charge I would be in a pickle. The client always pays regardless and is fine about it. Any holiday lessons can be cancelled without a charge. Term time is my bread and butter and years of being messed about has taught me to be strict and charge full rate. It has definitely focused the minds of the clients and very few cancel.
  14. lisacoy455

    lisacoy455 New commenter

    Enforcing cancellation policy is something i really struggle with. Especially with regular clients. However, after some repeated incidents i do try to firmly remind them that while tuitions do have an element of flexibility, my time cannot be taken for granted and that in case they mean to cancel the class, they have to inform me in advance according to the agreement signed.
  15. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    I have a cancellation policy and it is revised & re-issued every September. I have created an email folder for each student so that it is clear that it has been sent out. I am quite careful to use the word 'cancel' with parents if their child does not attend for whatever the reason, ie, 'Thank you for letting me know that you are cancelling tomorrow's lesson, rather than '... not able to come to tomorrow's lesson' or referring to a 'missed lesson '. This is a good way of putting my cancellation policy clearly in their minds at the point of cancellation even if I am not enforcing it on this occasion. It reminds them (I hope) of what my cancellation terms are so that, if I do have to enforce it later, there are no misunderstandings.
    Piranha likes this.

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