Have you been struggling with what to do if your students don’t pay you on time? EVEN if you already have a signed fee policy in place with them?
Welcome to a problem all freelance teachers face from time to time! Late paying students are frustrating to deal with, and can throw you and your finances into a horrible mess. IF YOU LET THEM.
My friend, one of the best parts of being a freelance teacher is that YOU are in charge of your business. Not some school, and for sure NOT your students.
Today, we’re going to talk a little more about practical steps you can take to solve the problem of late paying students.
Ask Yourself Some Important Questions
- Are you sure they’re YOUR Ideal Student? Double check to see if you are working with the RIGHT students. Are they your ideal client? (Sometimes working with the wrong kind of student – leads to working with late payers! )
- Are you sure you have a firm fee policy in place? Pull out your fee policy for your problem client. 1) Do you have one? 2) Was it signed by your students? If not…quickly share it with your students and have them sign it. Talk about – engage in conversation – around what the fee policy means, and that you mean business when you issue it.
- Are you sure you DO mean business with your policy?
What to do if students continue to pay late – even with a fee policy in place.
- Talk about it…again. Don’t give another class until you’ve taken 10 or 15 minutes to talk openly with your student(s) about your fee policy. Let them know that you have been paid late several times, which is breaking their agreement with you.
- Why are they not paying? Ask your students, and listen carefully. Don’t worry so much about the odd late payment – what you MUST stop are the pattern late payers.
- Decide what to do. You’ll know if a student is genuinely in trouble and can’t pay, or if they had an emergency – or simply forgot. That’s human. It happens. You can, if you feel it’s right, be human back. You’ll also know if you have a chronic late payer. IT might be time for some tough action on your part…
When to Fire a Client
- Deciding to fire a problem client can be one of the biggest fear inducing times for you! You’ve worked hard to get this client…aren’t you crazy to decide to let them go??
- Don’t listen to fear! You will get another BETTER client. I promise.
- If you sense your client is just not caring enough to pay you on time, do yourself a favour and end the relationship. Here’s how:
- 1. Wait for them to pay you.
- 2. Thank them for working with you.
- 3. Kindly let them know that you are no longer able to work with them. You schedule and availability have changed – which is now completely true! You don’t have to slam them with the fact they haven’t been paying. Just let them know your schedule and availability are now different. Period.
Make the call quickly
- Don’t delay on firing a bad client. The longer they are with you, the more damage they will do to your finances AND your morale.
- Delays on letting a bad client go are often rooted in fear. ‘What if’s.’
- What if I don’t get another client? (Fear.)
- What if I go broke, or can’t pay a bill because I’ve let these guys go? (Fear.)
- Decide to fire, and IMMEDIATELY begin working to replace them with a better fitting client. Wise action taking is vital. In other words, as you are opening one hand to let your difficult client go, you’re extending your other hand to bring a new one on.
- Remember: Old leaves fall so that the tree can make room for new ones! The tree doesn’t worry about new ones growing in place of the old ones. It just lets go, and lets the new one come in.
Don’t just put the fire out. Try and solve the problem.
- Always ask yourself questions about your business.
- How did this late paying client get into my business?
- Is there a way I can prevent it from happening in the future?
- How am I doing at ‘screening’ or making sure my clients know and understand how I work – especially around fees – BEFORE we actually start working together?
- Think prevention, not putting out fires!
Learn how to sell your services with calm confidence, and not as an obnoxious PUSHY sales person.
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