To be sure the monthly tuition system that we offer our students fits their lifestyle better that the ticket/point type payment systems. However, the “Powerful” (student’s who pay extra to be able to book lesson via telephone on a flexible system) students or those who require flexibility to call in and reserve a lesson when they have time, can be a source of stress for the school owner. Most students try to take their allotted 4 lessons per month, but some will often forget to reserve a lesson for weeks and even months. As the teacher-owner you are always wondering why they are not booking lessons. Are they not happy with your lesson? Are they just busy? Are they about to quit???? I have had a lot of experience with this as half of my students are such flexible students and most are very busy. Some have come back after several months and paid the outstanding tuition and taken dozens of lessons in a month or two to catch up. Some, unfortunately have not come back. It always leaves you guessing and you do not want to bother them to find out sometimes if they are on the proverbial “considering to quit fence”.So this is one area over which we as owners must deal with some stress. I was thinking about this issue today and realized that as owners we have much more direct concern about our students and their reservation trends than do the hired teachers at the corporate schools. I mean if students don’t come to my school I lose income. If students don’t go to class at a “salaried teacher’s” school that teacher still gets paid.
Although it is hard, sometimes you just have to let them go and hope they come back. Smith’s staff will call the student for you to check on them to see if they are OK. This often will work to get the students to book a few lessons. However, it sometimes may have the opposite effect. The student decides to quit. I believe it is best not to chase non attending students too hard. It is better to ask why they stopped attending. Sure they are busy but did I do my best, were the lessons interesting, fun and of benefit. If I have room to improve I should. Then if I am doing my best my stress level goes down and I know the law of averages will keep my student body growing. I know those student’s who don’t come are not coming because they are busy, not because I did something wrong.
I think you have to keep you “business hat” on and just move on and continue to promote your school and get new students. Although I understand this but, it is hard sometimes to just let them go. However, the best advice is just to look forward and move ahead. You will find new students who appreciate the lesson and will come on a regular basis.
In general, I think the fact that Smith’s offers a true monthly tuition system benefits us as school owner’s greatly and we are best to use this to promote our schools. But there may be cases which require a little different approach. Smith’s system does have flexibility and this is a strong point for us and any potential franchisees.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)
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