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Drawing up a contract for September and advanced payment

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by TES_English, May 22, 2018.

  1. TES_English

    TES_English New commenter


    I've had an oversubscribed year but along the way, a number of last minute cancellations.

    For September, I was thinking of drawing up a contract whereby the parent agrees to pay for 4 weeks upfront and then must give at least 48 hours' notice if they need to cancel a session. If it is more than 48 hours I will rearrange, if it is less, they lose that session/money.

    I'm apprehensive about enforcing it as I do believe flexibility is key for this role but i've lost so much money this year.

    Anyone do this or had any problems?

  2. TES_English

    TES_English New commenter

  3. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    You may lose goodwill and good relationship with parents. This has happened to me. I took on 2 extra pupils to make up for the cancelled lessons of the others. However, you might consider allowing for 1 short notice cancellation each 6 weeks or so, (which is reasonable) but charge if cancellations keep happening.

    I am considering what to do as I have one family that frequently cancel and re unreliable. You are an educator and don't want to come across as greedy or money driven rather than having the pupil's progress at hear.

    My son's piano teacher charges for the lesson and the one after in advance. maybe that is something to consider also.
  4. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    unreliable. and not at hear but at heart.
  5. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    PS maybe just "have a word" with the ones that cancel alot? Just remind them that cancelling means little progress.

    You don't want to lose the "goodwill" of existing pupils.
  6. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    I do not bother with a contract or payment in advance. I make it clear that the student has a weekly slot (e.g. 5pm each Tuesday) at £x per week. If they do not turn up, because they have forgotten or something else take priority, I ask for payment. This seems to work fine without a written contract.
  7. alarge77

    alarge77 New commenter

    Does that include sickness?
  8. alarge77

    alarge77 New commenter

    It's a tricky one and something that comes up all the time. Last week I had 4 pupils on a school journey so I lost out quite a bit. At the moment I charge 50% of my fee if cancelled within 48hrs of lesson. If the cancellation is late and unreasonable, like a kid's party etc, I charge full fee. I don't have a contract but state this by email at the beginning of the lessons with new client. It's a really fine balance between flexibility and business and I'm still searching for the right mix. I don't want to lose anyone, but I don't want to lose out at all. I do realise how tricky it can be to juggle children's activities, however sometimes it can get out of hand. I do try to reschedule but that only works if I have another cancelled slot somewhere else.
  9. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    I didn't used to charge at all for sickness, but had one student who was having mental health problems and her attendance was very hit and miss. I spoke to her parents and they decided to pay me whether the daughter came or not. Now, sometimes I charge sometimes I don't, depending on when I learn of it (sickness) and how often it has happened.
  10. ladyofrohan

    ladyofrohan New commenter

    My clients pay a month in advance* and I check dates with them before invoicing. Once dates are agreed, I will still change times/accept cancellations provided I get at least 24 hours notice. If it's less than 24 hours notice, I'll do my best to offer an alternative time but if I can't or it's not convenient for them, they have to pay the full amount.

    I introduced this policy as I had quite a few last minute cancellations in the autumn term, so I gave a month's notice of my new 'cancellation policy' and everyone has been fine with it.

    * They can pay weekly but lessons are £1 more!
  11. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    This year I allowed one short notice cancellation - asked for 50% payment for the next with the understanding that a 3rd would forfeit the place to someone else. It worked

    I think a degree of flexibiity is important, things DO arise at short notice which make classes impossible but if it happens regularly the client has to take responsibility and pay up.
  12. alsoamum

    alsoamum New commenter

    I now get all new parents to sign a contract which says they have to agree dates before the half term begins and pay up front. I don't do refunds but I do let them cancel/reschedule 1 lesson per half term for reasons such as illness or emergencies. I also take a deposit of one lesson before I reserve a space, and take deposit from continuers in the summer term to reserve their spot for September. No one has kicked off yet.

    I have done this because I have had several parents cancel a third of a half term's lessons with only a week or so notice - I can't always fill the spot and I don't currently charge them but they still expect me to keep the spot empty for their child. I get a lot of requests for regular tuition spots and have to turn a lot of people away only to then find that my existing clients only want their spot part time!

    I do think a lot of parents (I tutor primary) think of tutors like a school, they seem to constantly ask for extra's for free. I had to explain to a parent that I wasn't going to give her child 2 weeks worth of homework to do on holiday after she'd cancelled 2 consecutive sessions (without payment) in order to go on said holiday. She was really annoyed and said the teacher at school hadn't minded at all and that she could drop it in for me to mark before the next session! The cheek! I don't mind going the extra mile to help a child but that really took the biscuit!
  13. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Some parents try and treat their child's tutor in ways that they would not think of doing to their window cleaner.
  14. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    An existing client once asked me whether she could pass on my number to a friend, who was looking for a tutor. This proved embarrassing, as her friend was a really arrogant little charmer.

    Parent: "I need you 4:30, on Tuesdays. Right?"
    Me: "I'm sorry but I've got other students then."
    P: (Sigh of annoyance) "Well, reschedule them, then."
    M: "I can't do that at such short notice, I'm afraid."
    P: (Another sigh of annoyance) "I'll find someone else." (sound of receiver going down).
  15. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    If you set a relatively harsh system (eg no refunds for short-notice cancellation, or all lessons for the term must be paid for whether taken or not), you can always use your discretion with the families you know aren't just messing you around. My daughter will miss a music lesson due to a school trip next week - under the teacher's policy, we have to pay, but I suspect he'll knock it off next term's bill, especially as we gave him plenty of notice, and have occasionally changed time to help him out.

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