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New cancellation policy ..lost 50% of my students

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by microbiology, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter


    I came for an advice here in november about cancellation.

    I then took the advice and started asking gor upfront fees for groups. I ended up losing 50% of my students (10 students) within a month.

    Not too sure if it’s stupid for me to not implement the changes as my tutoring business has hit rock bottom.

    I have recently given up my full-time job so I am relying on this tutoring now. I won’t be able to carry on with such a low number of students.

    What do I do?:( Do I take the tuition policy back and say forget about it? Do I just let people cancel last minute and ignore?

    Any advice will be much appreciated.
  2. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    Well if I remember you said you stopped doing one-to-one because of your job. I know that you lost some of your students from asking them to move to groups from one-to-one so you could do one-to-one again. Have the students said why they have cancelled? Some of my students can't afford £150 up front so you could ask for a smaller amount up front. Surely now if is after Christmas students will be getting their mock results back there should be a big demand. Do you tutor everyday? Maybe you could pick up some other day one or two days per week until things pick back up.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    That's a bit of a nuisance!
    I've just reread your earlier post for context.
    The level of personal relationship with parents (and tutees) is greater than when you work in mainstream.
    My advice is to think about what an ideal @microbiology shaped tutoring job looks like. What subjects, what sized groups, what sort of relationship when they need to cancel. Then reflect on what the families you work with want and how you can deliver that within your own parameters. My experience (and that of Mrs P who derives all her income from tutoring) is that to some extent you have to go with the flow.
    Given what you said earlier about anxiety, I'm not sure about giving you specific advice. You probably offer a "top up" to the education the children you work with elsewhere. Grumpy inflexibility won't work.
    briancant likes this.
  4. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    From what I remember a lot of your 1 to 1 clients weren't treating you like a professional and this was causing you additional stress and anxiety. Of course when you change things such as going from 1 to 1 to groups or charging in advance there are no guarantees that current tutees will stay.
    Term hasn't really started yet, but in my experience January after mocks and parents evenings is a good time to pick up new students. Rather than backing down, I would work on marketing your services to attract new clients.
  5. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    The ones who cancelled were the ones missing 3-4 lessons per term. In a way it’s a good thing but at I am thinking at lesst I was getting something from them rather than nothing.

    6 students I cancelled because I was being harassed

  6. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    What would you recommend about being flexible? Pls could you elaborate on this.

    I think I have hit myself in the foot by asking upfront payment so really looking to rectify this before it’s too late.


  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Mrs P reckons she has to accept it when people give advance notice if they can't make a regular appointment. She does expect that folk who miss without notice have to pay.
    I don't do much tutoring, and last minute cancellations have always had the parent pay me unasked.
    I suppose that we both have an advantage of parents knowing that we either have waiting lists or are doing them a favour.
    I hope you can get yourself some more customers.
  8. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    Who is Mrs P?

    What would yo usay to someone who keeps rescheduling a regulat appointment every other week?

    Who is
  9. jean_daligault

    jean_daligault New commenter

    I guess she is to Mr P who Mrs D is to me.

    You know your customers and personal situation best. Answers of the type "dump them all" most likely come from tutors with a safely full schedule. I don't have a cancellation policy, and I'm pretty lenient. But I'm pretty lucky with my students, I suppose teenagers can be less reliable than university students and adults.
  10. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Mrs P is obviously phlogiston's wife.

    You seem to have been exceptionally unlucky with your students. I'm pleased to say most of mine are lovely and very rarely cause a problem.

    I'm not clear whether you have lost most of these students because you wanted to move them from one-to-one to groups or because you asked for payment in advance.

    I only do one-to-one tuition. I'm fairly flexible. I ask for at least 24 hours notice of cancellation and they just pay me at the end of each lesson. It seems to work fine for me; if anyone cancels regularly I just get rid of them. It means I can cancel if there is something I want to do.

    For groups I think you probably need to ask for payment in advance and can't be so flexible. If one or two members of the group regularly fail to turn up or are late it isn't going to work, but I don't really have experience of this.
  11. Abitofeverything

    Abitofeverything Occasional commenter

    You've said that the ones who have cancelled are the ones who were messing you around anyway. Good riddance! Look for new students who adhere to your new policy. It is not draconian - it is common sense self-preservation - no one can run a business when you have bills to pay and people are cancelling their lessons left, right and centre. Dd you put in a clause that one a term can be cancelled free of charge per half term? I think that is highly reasonable.
  12. alsoamum

    alsoamum Occasional commenter

    So, you've lost some clients because they didn't like your new payment/cancellation policy. This will either be because they genuinely can't afford it (no reason why you can't offer for them to pay 1 or 2 weeks in advance rather than a while month of term if you can trust them to pay and not cancel continuously). Or, it will be because they wanted to continue turning up when it suited them and paying only when it suits them. From the information you put in all your previous posts, most of your list clients are the 2nd type. You are better off without them and will be less stressed.

    Make sure your policies are clear and reasonably fair to both yourself and clients, then start marketing in your local area and get some new clients. You could offer a discount for the first few sessions maybe or do a referral scheme (I've already suggested and explained this on your previous thread).

    Have a little faith in your own abilities and stop letting disrespectful parents control you.
    ninariley likes this.
  13. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    From microbiology's earlier posts the parents are mainly surgeons or dentists so clearly there's not a problem with affording payment. Of course (on average) the better off people are the meaner they are, which might be part of the problem.
  14. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Mrs P is my wife, who does far more tutoring than me.
    If someone was rescheduling every other week, I would ask them if there was a better time to have the session.
  15. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I think this is very good advise.
  16. JamDoughnut

    JamDoughnut New commenter

    I always decide on the number of tutees I want to take on at any given time and then take another another two or three. Inevitably each week there will be illness, exams, driving tests, parents evenings,university open days etc etc so I generally only end up tutoring the desired number of tutees. This therefore allows me to be a bit more flexible/accommodating.

    Where the number of absences/changes becomes 'out of tolerance' then I suggest that the tutee moves to a different time slot (as the premium time slots can immediately be filled) or that we move from a regular scheduled slot to a 'make an appointment when you want/need a session and I will see what I can do basis'. This means that I can then fill that slot with another tutee and if they come back to me then they will have to take a slot of my choosing and if they don't come then I'm not out of pocket as I have sufficient tutees anyway.

    Ultimately if I don't 'like' a tutee/parents then I manage them down/out rather than being brutal! I therefore don't have or need a cancellation policy. Yes, very occasionally I get last minute cancellations but I see this as inevitable.

    I am lucky in that I am massively in demand (and the parents/tutees know it!) and know that I could fill each slot at least twice over. I therefore always achieve my desired income without fail and have only ever had two tutees that I have had to 'let go' but they never realised they were being let go!
    treeickle likes this.
  17. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Advice!!! Lucky I don't tutor English!
  18. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    How do you let them go without them realising?

    If you were to do group classes then would you ask for upfront payment?
  19. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    Do you guys do groups? Would you ask upfront payment?
  20. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    I would say out of the 11 students who have left, 5 students we're cancelling last minute most of the time or were missing most lessons per term.

    2 students (1:1) were students I cancelled myself due to them not paying me when they don't turn up or turn up 1 hr late and they were very abusive. 4 students were in joint classes and were in the same friendship circle (community) as the 2 students I cancelled on so to save myself from getting stressed I cancelled on them too.

    I have gone from being known as the best tutor in my subject to being the worst when it comes to commitments.

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