Back in March, I wrote a post about how we handle student payments and policies about attendance (Collecting the Benjamins). Because of the interesting responses from teachers, I thought it would be good to review two aspects of this subject again–payment policies and cancellation policies, and to summarize teacher responses. We would all appreciate it if you would be willing to “add a comment” at the end of this post, reflecting on your own thoughts and experiences. This is one topic we all deal with and are happy to learn more about from other experienced teachers. Below are summaries of responses from teachers writing about the earlier post, as well as ideas from my own experience.
(By the way, thanks to Valerie for her recent comment about the Music Ace free demo; see her comment at the end of the post about Online Music Games.)
1. Payment policies.
Betty: Teaches a year-round schedule and students either pay annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or if monthly, she divides the annual rate into 10 parts and they pay this amount monthly for 10 consecutive months. Students can leave with 30 days notice.
Jan: Charges a flat monthly rate based on the number of lessons in a school year divided by the number of months. Itâ€™s basically a tuition payment rather than directly relating the payments to the number of lessons in a given month.
Tina: Students pay for the lessons in each month at the first lesson of each month. She has Music Teachers Helper send invoices the first of each month, which works for most students; some need reminders.
Toby: His students pay monthly tuition.
Joe: Requires signed agreement and payment in advance.
Mine: I teach in two places currently. One place has people sign up for a semester (though some people manage to sign up for less); they pay the office and the office pays me based on lessons taught. Students can withdraw before the 5th lesson; otherwise they are committed for the semester. In the other location, students pay me directly, either 4 lessons at a time, or they pay at the first lesson of the month for the whole month. Student commitment is monthly; unfortunately, someone could drop lessons at the beginning of any month.
2. Cancellation policies.
Betty: With 24 hours notice, sheâ€™ll keep the payment but reschedule the lesson. There are 40 lessons in a year, and if they miss some or canâ€™t reschedule, they lose those lessons.Jan: No refunds or rescheduling for missed lessons. She explains that student tuition pays not only for reserving the lesson time she spends with students, but also for her prep time and overhead costs. Interestingly, she never talks with students about money–she uses MTH invoices and reminders, and everyone pays their bills (though not always on time).
Tina: With 24 hours notice a lesson can be cancelled without payment; she encourages but does not require rescheduling. Recognizing that sickness, traffic, etc., can get in the way, she allows students to reschedule lessons missed with less than 24 hours notice, but payment is charged at the time of the missed lesson, and the makeup must be scheduled within 30 days. No-shows are charged and not offered makeup lessons.
Toby: He views student payments as monthly tuition, and allows no more than one makeup lesson every 30 days. If 24 hours cancellation notice is given by the student, he will offer a makeup time, as available, within 2 weeks of the cancelled lesson. If available makeup times are not workable for the student, or if more than one lesson is missed in a 30-day period, the lesson is forfeited.
Mine: I teach at one location which allows 1 excused absence per term, with 24 hours notice; all other absences are to be paid for. In reality, teachers are flexible on an individual basis, and with 24 hours notice, I normally schedule a makeup or postpone the lesson until the end of the term. At my other teaching location, 24 hours notice is also required to avoid payment for a missed lesson, but I balance good will against strict policy–if a student has a good reason not to come and if their lesson time is at a time not in great demand, sometimes the good will of allowing the student “off the hook” for the missed lesson can be less stress for all, and can cement a long-term student, rather than a fight over money and possibly losing a student or creating tension. I donâ€™t have much tolerance for repeat offenders, however, because that leads to more stress and distraction from the learning process.
Please at your comment below! Weâ€™d all like to hear about your experiences!