If you’re a freelance ESL teacher, you MUST have a written down, easy to to understand cancellation policy that your clients sign BEFORE you start your first class.
What Are Cancellation Policies?
A cancellation policy – I know you’re likely thinking of lawyers, massive complex documents, and eyeballs rolling backward into people’s heads – but don’t! These useful and very simple documents can save you from frustration, heartburn, and the loss of your time and income.
Cancellation policies simply outline the rules you will follow, and when/if you will reschedule a class when it comes to you or your student cancelling.
Simple. It doesn’t even need to fill a half page Word document.
What to Include in a Cancellation Policy
The best cancellation policies will explain, in simple English, the following scenarios:
- Your definition of a late. Example: If you have an 8 hour cancellation rule and your student cancels more than 8 hours before your class, you will work to reschedule with him/her. If they cancel with LESS than 8 hours notice, you will NOT reschedule, and you will charge for the class anyway.
- Your definition of on time cancellation. Please see previous point.
- Your Excessive Cancellation policy. You’ve got to give yourself a way out if you suddenly start working with a student who is just too busy to commit to classes. You could write something like: If the student cancels 4 classes in a row, I reserve the right to stop providing English classes to you unless we’ve previously agreed otherwise. There are situations you may want to allow for – emergencies, vacations etc. But there are folks out there, I’ve unfortunately worked with them, who simply don’t have enough time to work consistently on their English. You don’t need them as your clients! Let them go, and find someone else!
- If YOU cancel. This could include a promise to reschedule every class you cancel within X amount of days. Or you could offer to discount missed classes from the next billing cycle.
- How Students Can Cancel. Provide students with an easy way to reach you if they need to cancel. An e-mail you always have access to, a cell phone number – connected to a cell you carry with you always and always answer, etc.
How to Use Your Cancellation Policy
- Convert your cancellation policy to PDF format, and also print it.
- Before your first class, e-mail your new students the PDF version.
- Request a meeting with students before the first class in oder to review the cancellation policy together with them.
- Have students – all of them if they are in a group – sign the printed document before the first class.
- Store the document in a file for that class/group.
- If your student violates your agreement, take out the paper to show them if it seems like they’ve forgotten about your policies.
- If your student questions/challenges you on why you are charging for a class he/she cancelled late on – in a friendly manner, refer them to the document they signed.
- Be flexible ONLY when you feel like your student is being honest with you. We are all human, and things come up! Sickness, work, unexpected changes to plans, vacation, etc – but don’t be afraid to enforce your boundaries when necessary or some students will walk all over you. (Sometimes being ‘nice’ and ‘easy going’ can work against you.) You can still be nice and easy going while maintaining your policies. Really! You can. (And you should.)
That’s it. No lawyers. Nothing complicated, but boy do these things work! Have you created your cancellation policy?
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