February 24, 2011

Studio Policies: Cancelations

I am thoroughly enjoying this discussion about studio policies! Some of you have left some great comments and more ideas for me to think about. If you haven’t been already, be sure to read the comments that have been left on these posts. All together they are a compilation of some great ideas!

Here’s one more aspect of our policies to discuss: the matter of cancelations. There. I said it. The dreaded word. I think if you look up “cancelation” in the dictionary, you will find that the definition reads, “A piano teachers nightmare.”

If you teach anything, then it has happened to you. Cancelations are a common part of our studios. You spend time planning for a student’s lesson, only to have them call and cancel. Just when you were hyped about their lesson!

This matter should be covered in your policies for several reasons.

One, Paying for that lesson

Depending on how you handle payment, that student may have already payed for his lesson. You have to decide if you will reimburse for missed lessons, or if you will try to make up that lesson. Another option is giving the student a time limit. If they give you 24 hours notice, you will reimburse them. But if they give only a couple hours (or minutes :S) notice, no reimbursement. ( I think that having your students pay monthly at the beginning of the month keeps them from canceling more than is absolutely necessary...but thats another topic. :)

Two, make up lessons

Do you have time to offer your student a make up lesson? Can you move their lesson to later in the week? Yes, I think it is good to be able to offer another time-slot. But do not sacrifice responsibilities in other areas.

For this season of my teaching, the Lord has allowed me to be able to be as flexible as a slinky. Many weeks we move lessons around because of work or school schedules. The day may come when I have more students and not so much time to spare, but for now I am glad to be able to move things around for them. We have a policy in place that works well for us.

Three, weather

No matter how well you plan ahead, there comes a day when you wake up and realize you are living in a world gone white. Snow day! Gotta love ‘em, but they sure mess you up if you have to reschedule all those lessons. One day we were in a small blizzard, and our power was out, so I could not even call my students to cancel their lessons! Thankfully it was pretty obvious. :) Your issue may not be snow, it may be hurricanes or earthquakes, I don’t know. (what do you do in the case of an earthquake, anyway?) Whatever the case, forsee those potential problems that are out of your control, and plan ahead.

What do you, as the teacher, do about cancelations? Are there any areas that I have overlooked?

What about you as a student? How do cancelation policies look from your end of the spectrum?


  1. Nicole- These are all EXCELLENT questions and something that I've found myself considering, and reconsidering through my years as a teacher. I think it's wise to do so, as your availability/flexibility as a teacher changes over time. When I first started teaching I was able to be a lot more flexible, and I tried to make up a student's missed lesson another day that same week. Now...I'm teaching from two locations and have a lot more students so I don't really have that option.

    When I plan my term out, I automatically allow a week at the end of the term for a 'make-up' week. This leaves me a little bit more wiggle room: when a student misses their first lesson I can just say, "ok- we'll just make it up at the end of the term," and that takes care of that ;)

    Over and above that I usually tend to just reimburse missed lessons on the following month's bill. This includes missed lessons that I've had to cancel due to weather or teacher illness (thankfully I've never had to cancel due to sickness), and lessons they've given me adequate notice on.

    Another situation I've had come up is that a family will let me know AHEAD of time that they'll be missing a lesson in the coming month. They may be going for a vacation (I had a student going to Disney this February), or have another major conflict that affects one week of lessons. If I know that ahead of time, I'll adjust the bill for the upcoming month.

    Finally, (and maybe this isn't the best business etiquette) I tend to base my reimbursement and willingness to make-up lessons on the family. If I have a particular family who is ALWAYS missing and just can't seem to get their act together I'm a lot less willing to make the lesson up and often have them pay for the lesson. If it's a family who is very conscientious about making lessons and hardly ever misses, I'm a lot more willing to work with them.

    WHEW! I think that's it! This is a really tricky issue :)

  2. Great thoughts, Sarah! It seems like you handle well the various situations that come up.