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So I just finished writing yet another email to a parent who still has not paid me this month.

He didn't pay on time in January, either. Or December. Or November. Nope, not even October. I've had to email him every month and threaten to stop giving lessons whereupon he promptly sends the check in.

I've even established a $5 per week late tuition fee which he dutifully pays.

Needless to say, I'm not taking his daughter back into my studio next year. I have a wait list and do not need to put up with this sort of lackadaisical approach to payments. It is clear that he doesn't take me seriously so I'm just done.

My question for you is this: Should I give him a heads up now that his late tuition payments are the cause of me not taking his daughter or should I tell him at the end of the year when he tries to re-enroll her?

Or should I not bother with it at all since he is liable to not even re-enroll her until August when my studio will be full anyways and I won't have to take her on.

Advice?

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If that's the only problem with this student, simply change your billing. Make him pay six months in advance, or at least three months, whatever the local school semester is. Then you won't be aggravated by the monthly problem. You'll solve it once and can concentrate on teaching.

Make it palatable by giving him a discount if necessary.


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That's a good idea. He can definitely afford the total amount, no problem.

This is probably more a situation where I'm getting irked and not really a terrible issue.

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Before isolating this parent giving him a different payment schedule compared to all the others consider if he has the potential do damage your business making you sound greedy or something else.
As business owner you have a lot of crap to put up to and this seems fairly minor to me compared to other stuff that can happen.
I consider very carefully before cutting the cord with some of the families because there is always a risk about a negative publicity, especially if it is for stuff that is perceived as very minor.

You need to grow a little bit of a thick skin to handle this kind of situation. The most important thing, if you don't have it, get a software to do the billing and invoicing for you, something like quickbook or similar and forget about it.

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Understandable. But my situation is a little bit unique. I work at a school where I don't ever see the parents of my students unless they seek me out. I send emails every month and have a website so that communicating is as painless as possible and he's the only parent that just hasn't gotten with it.

I'm not angry or anything, just annoyed. I don't have to put up with this so I don't want to, I'm just wondering how and when to let him know that due to his lack of ability to pay on time (not because of his daughter or anything) that I do not want to continue giving lessons during the next school year.

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I agree with TimR, but why not have a word; in many (business) situations paying late is positively encouraged, so maybe he does not realise the implications for his daughter and your own dislike and inconvenience.

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Is it possible for them to set up an auto pay? I agree this is a nuisance. Some parents procrastinate or are forgetful. Perhaps increasing the late fee would help, but it's best to do this at the beginning of the new term.

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I have looked into auto pay but since he pays with a check and not a credit card (I don't know why) that's an impossibility unless he sets it up himself.

Really, I'm leaning towards just telling him how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking about doing. Chances are he'll just finish up the year and then not bother re-enrolling her. He doesn't seem to care all that much about it.

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in many (business) situations paying late is positively encouraged


How do you mean?

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Originally Posted by ChavoPues
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in many (business) situations paying late is positively encouraged


How do you mean?


In my limited experience running a small business almost everyone in business tries to pay 30-90 days late so their cash flow is funded by other people's money.

Maybe this father runs his own business and is used to that unfortunate, but common, practice.

I would give him a heads up now. Since he's able to pay, I would think he'd go for the six-month payment plan to keep his daughter in your studio. He may not have any idea this is irritating to you.


Last edited by scgrant; 02/22/16 01:41 PM.

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Perhaps ChavoPues, you should consider another thing; the struggling parent.

There are many parents out there who are doing their very best to provide for their children, but struggle doing so because of the limited funds that are left over after paying for the roof over their heads, meals, health and automobile insurance, etc.

It would be one thing to complain about a delinquent Father who's salary was $550,000 a year, but I would be hesitant to dismiss too quickly the possibility of a stuggling parent who's having difficulties making ends meet while trying steadfastly to provide their child with something as potentionally wonderful and as enjoyable as learning to play the piano.

How about instead of utilizing the cold and abrupt e-mail method of communication, you actually pick up the phone to call and speak with the Father? Within short order you should be able to pick up on any signs of distress or the lack thereof, where you can then determine, without conjecture, what the issue is with lesson payment and act accordingly with your conscious.

Surely one student paying tardy should not cause your studio to go bankrupt, so work with the students parent to formulate a plan, a plan that will benefit the student and one that has their best interests at heart. I find that being forgiving and generous are certainly two of life's wonderful virtues, being especially gratifying when I'm the one being forgiving and generous...

smile

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Andy


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To be clear about a few things:

A business decides what terms it will set for payment. Most businesses are 30 days net. That means all outstanding invoices are past due at day 31, and penalties and collections start accruing. Clients tacitly agree to these terms the moment they shake hands, or write a check in some states, or sign a contract.

I work with a number of other client businesses big and small, and they ALL pay their bills on time. They want to 1- avoid trouble and 2- stay on good terms with their vendors. So they always pay on time.

Over the years, I have discovered that anybody who consistently pays late is nothing but trouble. Unless they bring something else to the table (one or two have), they are not worth keeping.

"...a reputation as greedy".

That's a laugh! In fact the effect will be quite the opposite. If you bring it up to the client, insist on getting paid timely, and then do it, you'll get a reputation as being a good businessperson. If you don't, you look like a pushover and weak. If you don't, you leave yourself open to abuse from everyone.

Look, the Phone Company does not play nice when it comes to getting paid. Neither should you. A lot of us behave as if money is dirty, and we shouldn't be concerned with it or about it. That just makes us look silly to the rest of the world. I simply don't understand where piano teachers get the idea the just because you're an artist AND in business, you should let yourself be abused over money.

You shouldn't. Otherwise you are really telling the world that 1- you're bad at business, and 2- you don't really have any self-respect. Because NOBODY in any other business would put up with this kind of garbage.

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There are many parents out there who are doing their very best to provide for their children


Yes. I have a few students like this whose parents have come and spoken to me and we've worked out a system that works for them. I have actually managed to develop good friendships with many of my student's parents and enjoy their company.

This man, a doctor, has his children in voice, piano, swimming and after school care. I know for a fact that he is not short of cash. It is not a matter of struggling to pay, albeit I understand that sometimes that is the case.

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If you bring it up to the client, insist on getting paid timely, and then do it, you'll get a reputation as being a good businessperson. If you don't, you look like a pushover and weak. If you don't, you leave yourself open to abuse from everyone.


You're absolutely correct. His children are in other lessons where I know for a fact that the teacher is a pushover. I'm thinking it is a hangover from that experience.

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Originally Posted by ChavoPues
...Yes. I have a few students like this whose parents have come and spoken to me and we've worked out a system that works for them. I have actually managed to develop good friendships with many of my student's parents and enjoy their company.

This man, a doctor, has his children in voice, piano, swimming and after school care. I know for a fact that he is not short of cash. It is not a matter of struggling to pay, albeit I understand that sometimes that is the case.


It's very nice to hear that you've extended a helping hand to other parents, but I see one difference "...parents have come and spoken to me and we've worked out a system that works for them." Would I be too far off the mark if I suggested that these particular parents don't have high incomes?

Doctors are busy people. If he's a single parent he probably has one helluva time juggling work, office employees, kid(s), schoolwork, house, food, utilities, hygiene, etc. But regardless, I'm sure that he, of all people, likes to get paid for his services on a timely basis, so there's your leverage.

I would strongly suggest, as I did in my initial reply to you, is that you place that phonecall to the 'Doc. Don't leave a message, insist upon speaking to him, and when you do, inform him that you're concerned about continuing his daughters lessons. Remind him that you're a business owner just like he is, and that you, like he, expects to be treated like a professional and to be paid for your services on a timely basis. Tell him that scheduled payments for lessons are imperitive and will go a long way towards ensuring his childs uninterupted lessons. Inform him that there are other students on a waiting list to study under you when an opening becomes available, and lastly, that due to his inability to pay for lessons on schedule, his child will be on a temporary trial or probationary period, the length of which is solely dependant on his continued timely payment of lessons.

You need to lay your cards are out on the table, where he can then decide how to proceed.

Regards,
Andy


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Originally Posted by ChavoPues
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If you bring it up to the client, insist on getting paid timely, and then do it, you'll get a reputation as being a good businessperson. If you don't, you look like a pushover and weak. If you don't, you leave yourself open to abuse from everyone.


You're absolutely correct. His children are in other lessons where I know for a fact that the teacher is a pushover. I'm thinking it is a hangover from that experience.


Just wear you best smile and charge him 100 dollar late fee each time the payment is late.

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If he pays by cheque, why not collect post-dated cheques for the year in September? This works great for me. I teach x number of lessons per year (September-June) and divide the total cost by 10. That way, each month costs the same.
At the beginning of the month, I deposit the cheques and keep a record of the payment.

I find this system works great for me!

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Phone him the day before he is expected to pay or possibly the morning. State that this is a reminder to bring this month's tuition to the lesson. It is still possible, though unlikely, he will forget, but you can do the same thing the following week. Don't wait with the phone call/email until he's late.

He might think you're awfully money conscious and you are. There are worse things to be. Most likely, he will get a sense that you really do need the money on time and that you're living paycheck to paycheck. And you are. So he really has nothing on you.

Personally, I think doctors and professionals like behaving this way because it supports their belief that they are cut from a different cloth. They write in messy handwriting for the same reason. Don't be surprised if you do get a sudden influx of cash from him for several months in advance. That's another way he can regain his feeling of superiority over you.

I don't believe the busy line for a minute. Absent-minded is more like it.

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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Phone him the day before he is expected to pay or possibly the morning. State that this is a reminder to bring this month's tuition to the lesson.


That's way too much work for the OP, and having to remember to do so is way too much stress.

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To the Monkeys: If a piano teacher is that easily stressed and unable to make a phone call at an appointed time, they shouldn't be a piano teacher. All you need to do is put a note in your daytimer. Then you pick up the phone or sit in front of your computer.




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