At all Smith’s School of English locations across Japan we charge the students 20,000 yen joining fee. I can hear it from here. “Oh it’s too much! Do you really think they will join?”
Yes they will.
Stop worrying and charge it. When teaching English in Japan it is quite normal to see a joining fee being requested of students. Too often I see new start up schools not asking for this fee. You must ask for it. Do not listen to any negative argument from the Japanese or fellow ESL teachers. Charge a joining fee. If you do not believe you will be able to do so, don’t start. You will regret it. 20,000 is cheap to join a school offering professionally motivated teachers.
In the monthly tuition payment business one of the challenges is to keep your students. Many debate the life of a student within this monthly payment environment. Some say it is 6 months, many say a year.
After running this payment system for more than ten years I can assure you that 3 years or 4 years is more like the true life of a student at well-run and caring schools.
The challenge is getting them over the first couple of months. Getting them to achieve a little. We need some time to build some trust, trust within the students themselves in their own ability to study with success.
We must also consider the student will need to get over the initial stress of refreshed study and an additional weekly appointment in their schedules.
The joining fee will greatly support the student’s decision to stay for a little while and give it a try. There are very few students who having paid a couple of hundred dollars joining fee, will quit easily in the first weeks. They will average it out in their minds. “Oh, I am uncomfortable but I better stay at least a couple of months!” This is your time to show them they can do it, that it is fun and that you really want to teach them English. To get them in the habit. To give them some short term goals and reinforce their achievement. In short, to get them to stay with you and trust you.
It’s as simple as that, really. Apart from being a very nice income stream, the joining fee buys you time. Time to secure the student.
Chairman, Smith’s School of English