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Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
#2285714 06/04/14 12:45 PM
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I've had a pair of siblings taking lessons with me for one year now. At the first lesson, the mother paid for the books and a month of lessons and all was well. However, after that it has been a long year of these two students taking lessons for weeks with no payment until I stop lessons and then the mother pays and the cycle begins again. It was because of this mother that I added a late fee to my policy sheet and sent her a new policy sheet with the late fees highlighted. About a month ago, she was AGAIN late in payment and owed me a month of lessons (times two kids!) and I added the late fee to my bill to her. She paid me for the lessons and neglected paying the late fee.......I stupidly let it go. Now again, she is a month behind and when I sent the bill with the late fee and added that no more lessons would be given, she dropped a check off at my house today and AGAIN neglected to add the late fee, only paying for the lessons given. I want to drop them but we live in a small town and I worry that she will say things to try to ruin my reputation. Any advice or experience with a situation like this would be helpful. HELP!

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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285724 06/04/14 12:59 PM
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How about a letter of warning of dropping saying if she is not paying on time and not giving late fee then you will drop her. Have her sign underneath the letter and keep a copy for yourself. Hope that this will help her not to ruin your reputation since you have her signature that she misbehave again, then you will drop her.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285742 06/04/14 01:58 PM
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IANAPT but in most businesses there are cash customers and credit customers. Credit customers have different credit terms depending on their account worth, history, credit score, etc. It sounds like this customer is a credit customer and is not meeting your business terms for credit. Therefore change those terms accordingly, even if ultimately it means she becomes a cash customer.

Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
spanishbuddha #2285744 06/04/14 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
IANAPT

What does this mean?

Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
keystring #2285757 06/04/14 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
IANAPT

What does this mean?

Pretty sure it would be
Quote
I Am Not A Piano Teacher
.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285773 06/04/14 03:07 PM
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First, you need to decide if you are going to continue teaching them or not. Do not be afraid of rumors or a bad reputation. Chances are, if she's one to talk, she's got the bad reputation and people won't pay her any heed. IMO, you really cannot let the fear of what someone may or may not do get in the way of running your business as you deem suitable.

Send her a letter letting her know that you will no longer be able to teach them due to the way in which she has been paying you is not according to your policy. Suggest that perhaps you are not the best teacher for them and recommend that they look for another teacher that better suits their needs. Give her a check for the amount of lessons for this month she's paid for, minus the late fees for the previous month or any other outstanding debts she owes you (don't include late fees for this month). Itemize how you arrived at this number in the letter. Be cordial, professional, and wish them all the best.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
Morodiene #2285814 06/04/14 04:29 PM
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Thank you for your advice. I am going to drop them and will use your wording. It's too much of an annoyance each week -- my policy states that lessons are to be paid before the lesson. I have been more than flexible and patient. She will go weeks without paying and ignore my bills. It's not a financial situation for her as she talks about vacations and having her kitchen redone. It's very disrespectful, and I don't need it. I've taught for 5 years and have had anywhere from 20 to 30 students at a time and have never had a parent like this! So, again, thank you for your sound advice.

Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285827 06/04/14 05:15 PM
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Hi, there--well I'm not a piano teacher, but I am an educator and I'm wondering if there may be another solution. I hate to see children lose out due to their parent's mistakes. If this mom is chronically disorganized/neglectful then these children need all the stability they can get, and you sound like a good teacher and a good influence. Of course you are actually running a business and aren't in the field of public education, so you have no obligation, but maybe there's something else you might try before giving up on this frustrating situation. I don't know what that might be. But if your policy states that lessons must be paid BEFORE the lesson, then maybe you would just turn the students away--refuse to teach them their lesson. Put this mom on the spot right then and there. I bet this wouldn't have to happen more than once. It doesn't sound like you've tried this; it seems as if you continue teaching them (which is in violation of your own policy). I do not mean to sound unsympathetic to your plight. I'm just thinking from the children's point of view, and also remembering my own childhood and disorganized (substance-abusing) mom. You could be doing these children a huge favor if you keep them on.

Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
hotcat #2285860 06/04/14 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hotcat
Hi, there--well I'm not a piano teacher, but I am an educator and I'm wondering if there may be another solution. I hate to see children lose out due to their parent's mistakes. If this mom is chronically disorganized/neglectful then these children need all the stability they can get, and you sound like a good teacher and a good influence. Of course you are actually running a business and aren't in the field of public education, so you have no obligation, but maybe there's something else you might try before giving up on this frustrating situation. I don't know what that might be. But if your policy states that lessons must be paid BEFORE the lesson, then maybe you would just turn the students away--refuse to teach them their lesson. Put this mom on the spot right then and there. I bet this wouldn't have to happen more than once. It doesn't sound like you've tried this; it seems as if you continue teaching them (which is in violation of your own policy). I do not mean to sound unsympathetic to your plight. I'm just thinking from the children's point of view, and also remembering my own childhood and disorganized (substance-abusing) mom. You could be doing these children a huge favor if you keep them on.


Could be, but I do think perhaps it's too late for the OP in her mind. Perhaps in the future, she could do this, but I do think turning the kids away at the door is hard to do and makes you look like the bad guy - especially if the parent just drops the kids off while you're teaching the student prior. I've done this only once, and I never taught that student again, nor did it get the parent to pay up.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285871 06/04/14 08:40 PM
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What I do is have parents give me post dated cheques for each month (September - June).
This works very well in making sure that I get paid!


Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
piano2 #2285879 06/04/14 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by piano2
What I do is have parents give me post dated cheques for each month (September - June).
This works very well in making sure that I get paid!

This is illegal in some states, so be sure to check out the laws before doing this. I have never done this, as I find either they will pay or they will not, and usually if they pay, they do so on time.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285886 06/04/14 09:34 PM
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Wow - that is illegal in some states? It is how things are done for lots of kid's activities in Canada.

One other option that some of my families choose is to pay for the whole year in September. This is great for me - then I'm not having to worry about asking for money. They pay for a certain number of lessons. If I am sick and have to cancel, I either re-schedule or reimburse the amount.


Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2285942 06/05/14 03:45 AM
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How small is the small town?

Usually I'd say kick the student out and stick to your guns, but you might judge the situation differently if the pool of available students is very small.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2286008 06/05/14 08:18 AM
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If Dianna has 20-30 students in her studio, her reputation sounds secure in this small town, and she shouldn't worry about dropping Mrs. Tardy. OTH, there are many other solutions that don't penalize the two Tardy children studying music. We haven't heard a word about them.




Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2286047 06/05/14 09:37 AM
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HotCat said what I was thinking but didn't post because well, IANAPT and this was one of those topics that I like to avoid because on some themes it's just too easy to offer advice off the cuff when it's not your head on the block. None of us can get a read on Mom but at it's face she sounds like a mom that's struggling to hold it together and really wants her two to have lessons or doesn't want to disappoint them by saying no. Like I said, I agree with HotCat in wondering if Dianna might see her way clear to allow the kids to continue as long as the Mom maintains a positive balance. As soon as she goes to zero or less, the lessons stop until the account is refilled and in the meantime, Dianna doesn't protect their slot. This still requires a lot of forbearance but of a less financial nature. Let's call it tough but not mean. I do wonder though, that part of Dianna's desire to terminate the relationship is less financial and is more based on being fed up with the friction in her own mind between being of a kind hearted nature and being really tired of having her kindness abused. I don't think any one of us could fault her for ceasing the relationship even if we are suggesting an attempt at repair instead of replace.

I also completely agree about not worry about Mom trash talking. If you're a good teacher and I expect you are, the good press will outweigh the bad. Like someone said above, a lot of people will understand the source and seek corroborating or non-corroborating opinions.

Kurt


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
DiannaM #2286059 06/05/14 10:04 AM
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I also wouldn't worry about the mom talking bad about you. Not everyone will like you and your policies but you will gain more respect when you have policies that you enforce.

You might consider charging by the semester or quarter instead of monthly. When I charged by the month I always had families who were habitually late with their tuition. It was a hassle on my bookkeeping and an energy drain to always be collecting payments. Now parents pay 4x in a 10-month calendar year and it has been so much easier.

In this digital age more and more people are not using checks anymore and simply having parents pay via automatic withdrawal from their bank account to yours. I'm not at that point yet but this appears to be the direction businesses are taking. This would eliminate late payments.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
KurtZ #2286062 06/05/14 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
I do wonder though, that part of Dianna's desire to terminate the relationship is less financial and is more based on being fed up with the friction in her own mind between being of a kind hearted nature and being really tired of having her kindness abused. I don't think any one of us could fault her for ceasing the relationship even if we are suggesting an attempt at repair instead of replace.



I totally agree with this statement, and thus why I offered advice on how to terminate the relationship. As a teacher, there comes a point when we can keep such things from seeping in to our teaching. It not only affects our attitude with the child whose parents are abusing our policy, but it affects how we approach teaching other students as well, especially ones we see the same day. I know when there have been issues with a parent, I actually dread teaching at all the day of that student. Usually I can overcome this, but sometimes things come to a head and something has to go.

I sensed from the OP that she was at that breaking point, and that she had already decided in her mind that it was better for her well-being and for her studio to let these students go. We cannot possibly reach very student in need out there. We are not saviors or martyrs, we are humans with feelings and failings. Sometimes it's best to know when enough is enough.


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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
KurtZ #2286228 06/05/14 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
HotCat said what I was thinking but didn't post because well, IANAPT and this was one of those topics that I like to avoid because on some themes it's just too easy to offer advice off the cuff when it's not your head on the block. None of us can get a read on Mom but at it's face she sounds like a mom that's struggling to hold it together and really wants her two to have lessons or doesn't want to disappoint them by saying no.


Originally Posted by DiannaM
I have been more than flexible and patient. She will go weeks without paying and ignore my bills. It's not a financial situation for her as she talks about vacations and having her kitchen redone.

That doesn't sound like problems "holding things together". It sounds like paying the teacher is a very low priority.

Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
Gary D. #2286314 06/05/14 07:03 PM
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I may be misreading this, but it appears that you're charging by the lesson. If this is correct, the summer is a great opportunity to switch your studio to either tuition or monthly payments, which are paid in advance. Either way, payment by the first lesson of the month with a returned check and/or late fee. I started with statements precisely because of these problems; the statements show the monthly tuition due, and any other accumulated fees. That action alone solved 99% of my financial problems. You might consider it. And it's more professional as well.



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Re: Dropping a Student in a SMALL town....
Morodiene #2286339 06/05/14 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by KurtZ
I do wonder though, that part of Dianna's desire to terminate the relationship is less financial and is more based on being fed up with the friction in her own mind between being of a kind hearted nature and being really tired of having her kindness abused.



I totally agree with this statement, and thus why I offered advice on how to terminate the relationship. As a teacher, there comes a point ...

I sensed from the OP that she was at that breaking point, ...


Morodiene,

I agree with you completely. If it seemed I was implying that you or Dianna were being callous, I never, ever, thought it let alone meant to imply it. I still don't think any of us have enough knowledge (besides Dianna) to presume to know the mother's circumstances or priorities. My former piano teacher had a kindness streak that left her open to abuse so I get it. Dianna has every right to not to have to cajole for her money nor should she feel any undue pressure to endure what is clearly trying, difficult and draining in the name of being noble.

Kurt


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