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Thread: Tuition Blues

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    Default Tuition Blues

    A questio for the owners of schools or if you run a program that teach out of a facility.

    How do you avoid chasing aroun month after month to get the student's dues on time??

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    A couple options are post dated checques or no floor time til the tuition is paid. I used to tell people that tuition was due on the 25th of the month before classes. So October's tuition was due on the 25th of September.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    off the cuff ideas...

    Set up an electronic payment system that will automatically debit a student's charge card or bank account. One does not have to issue fixed length membership contracts to institute such a program.

    Outsource your billing entirely to a 3rd party organization.

    Calculate how much you are losing (time, phone calls, aggrevation, lost focus) being a collections agent instead of a martial arts instructor and consider a tuition discount for students that pay in full up front for (say) 1 year or 6 months.

    And keep in mind that these options do not mean that you are the eeeeeevil MA instructor that is only after money. You've worked hard to get where you are and you deserve to get paid as agreed.

    As a student, to me paying tuition is just another hassle I gotta deal with to get the benefits of training. Anything that can be done to make that process less of a hassle is something that I see as a benefit.

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kai View Post
    A questio for the owners of schools or if you run a program that teach out of a facility.

    How do you avoid chasing aroun month after month to get the student's dues on time??

    When I ran my 2 commercial schools we used EFT and gave a $10 discount per month if they picked that option.

    The other students were sent a bill, just like the power company and phone company sends. I made them myself and had to remind the students that tuition was due and to please pay promptly as the schools bills are also due. I also made sure to thank them for their business.

    Make them feel special by sending birthday cards or emails and every so often have a gathering of sorts for them paid by the studio. A BBQ or some event at a free park. Pot luck even.

    Just some suggestions. I had 75 active students at my main studio and those ideas worked for me.

    Hope you find something that works for you.
    PARKER - HERMAN - SECK

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    Treat your business as a business, and not as a Karate instructor. Do credit checks. Have contracts. Give a significant discount for folks who cash out their contracts. Sell the contracts to a finance company and go from there. Have a family member who is good with numbers take over the billing process. Or, if you are making "that" kind of money, hire someone to do it.

    I am an expert in closing "successfu" karate schools. If I ever do it again, it will be done like that. I was too much into teaching and not enough into survival of the school.

    The most important thing is, as has already been stated by the "Divine Ms CK", is to understand that you have earned the right to charge for your knowledge. I don't know any "real" school teachers that go to school day after day and teach for free. You have a product, and you are putting it out there. A reasonable remuneration is a good thing. You are in business to make a living. Don't feel guilty about living.

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    Thank you everyone, some great advice!!

    Would you go through a bank to set uo the eft"s??

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    I would definitely talk with the insitution that is handling your business accounts.
    "Change is not necessary...Survival is not mandatory" - W. Edward Deming

    "When I hit....I hit the whole enchilada" - Master David Leung

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    In the old days it was common to Barter services with a student or two for things you need. You might want to consider having a student take care of the collections, but you have to set guidelines, and any exceptions have to be ok'd by you. This would allow you to teach, and give one person free lessons, but they would be taking care of the job you don't like so it is a pretty cheap trade off.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    That's a great idea!! Simple, but genius

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    There are a lot of good Black Belts out there,But not a lot of good business men. Most instructors think achieving a black belt is the key to running a successfful school. IT is not. What do you know about running a business?

    Do you know what your initial costs for setting up a school? Bus.Lisc.
    Mirrors,Sparring Equiptment, Carpet,insurence. Office furniture?

    What do you know about recurring monthly expenses? Rent,Overhead, advertisement,Insurancs.Utilities,etc, lease requirements?

    How will you collect money to pay for all of this? One good idea is to try and take a business course at some junior college if you can. It will teach you about these things.

    Some schools put their students on contract and then sell the contracts to a finance company and let them collect. ( I don't like this at all)
    Some school operators set up automatic wthdrawal accounts from the students checking account. ( I don't like this one much either)

    Some schools post the students account up on a ulliton board showing payments. That sometimes works pretty good.
    Others send out delinquicy notices requesting payment.
    Others simply get the student aside and tell them that you also have bills to pay and need prompt payment.

    That is the way some of us handle collections. hope to have helped

    I am Most Respectfully,
    Sifuroy

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    Teach good.
    Keep them motivated.
    Have contracts with complete names, addresses, SS#, and birth date of paying responsible party.
    Collect fees at each private session. Have amounts due written down on the weekly schedule.
    Do books weekly.
    Send dunning letter after 2 weeks no show. In letter tell them that they are being charged collection agency costs for any letter and any telephone call or any other type of collection efforts.
    Have that also in your contract.
    Have a "let out clause" where they can pay 10% of the remaining balance and have their contract voided out, with no hassles. And if they come back within 6 months that 10% will go towards their lessons.
    Again it is determined by YOU setting the rules structures IN ADVANCE.
    This brief outline is NOT enough to do it right. You need the “how-to” structures of all the above steps.
    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    >think I'd want to watch one first too. Just one class. Then I'd want to >participate. That would give me a feel for >how the class is run normally, >not just what they do to try and interest new people.

    (This post fits this thread perfectly so I'm reposting it here. Doc)
    Hi Amy,

    I’m replying to this old post because it ties in exactly with a current thread started by Ceicei.

    I humbly and respectfully totally disagree.
    Here’s why I disagree totally.

    1. We are teaching something special, something that needs to be earned.

    2. We are NOT attempting to show off so that someone will join.

    3. How we ENTERTAIN and WOW should NOT be a consideration.

    I agree 100% with Rob on this.

    No spectators, ever!

    NO one gets to watch any class, ever!

    (There is an EXCEPTION to this and it pertains to women and children, which I will NOT go over with this post, okay?)

    NOW you are correct that many people need some type of convincer that what you are doing is valid.

    You are correct in the assumption that many people fear to spend any money unless they are getting something for that money that is worth much more psychically and emotionally than the money they are giving in exchange for it.

    There are very good ways to handle those concerns that are much better for them and for the studio, besides allowing spectators of any sort, ever.

    EVERYONE, regardless of rank is required to come in for a personal private interview by appointment only.

    NO ONE is allowed to come into the studio unannounced.

    We allow NO walk-ins.

    Walk-ins are mostly curiosity seekers and are a waste of your time.

    There should be NO WAY that any walk-in; any curiosity seeker can view anything that is going on in any of the classes. They also should NOT be able to hear clearly anything that is being said or taught.

    So in the TINY psychologically designed reception area, always have it screened off, curtained off, an office area, and have a radio playing music between that room and any of the workout areas. It should look professional and have an oriental (Chinese) feel to it.

    When they do walk in unannounced they should feel, “Oh my GOSH!”

    You need to be nice to those walk-ins as you tell them that BECAUSE you are busy you can’t talk to them now, BUT if they want, you can set them up for a personal private interview at such and such a time.

    That time must be VERY SOON, WITHIN HOURS if possible. So that appointment time can be later the same day, or the next day at such and such a time. Which time is best for you?

    The real ones will choose one of the times. Many of the walk-ins will agree to an appointment but never show. They are the curiosity seekers and you’ve lost nothing.

    You do need to call them back within 2-3 minutes of a no-show, so you are reminding them of the appointment they just missed. “Hi Bruce, we had you down for a personal private interview with the head instructor Suk Lee at 5:30, and your not here yet, what happened?”

    Then they will lie to you about “they forgot” or whatever. Your answer, “Bruce, that’s okay. Get down here right now and Mr. Lee can still talk to you. See you in a couple of minutes!” and you hang up.

    You treat walk-ins the SAME WAY that you treat a telephone interview. Your INTENTION when they call for information is to get them in for a personal private interview for appointment only, NO EXCEPTIONS. You should NEVER answer their questions and concern over the telephone.

    They are very polite and educational ways to do that telephone sign-up for a personal private interview by appointment only.

    By doing that you have just up-graded a Bruce Lee want-ta-bee, or a Power Rangers curiosity seeker, or a concerned and fearful parent into a valid client.

    And this is the FIRST stage of turning someone that is just curious INTO a real client that loves Kenpo Karate and wants to get skilled in it.

    This stage is based upon unconscious habit patterns most of us have and that most of the people on this planet do NOT know about.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    I try to keep it simple we have 3 6 and 1yr program 3 month is paid in advance 6 and 1yr we send out a coupon book. In the coupon book is their name, and how many payments they have and if late there is a $10 late charge which I don't really push to hard on the late fee. Their payments are made to a post office box. Quick books also has very easy set up you can do with credit cards and automatcic paymants you can do at the school. I tried 2 different billing companys when I was starting out but it just didn't work for me, some students that were few days late were getting calls from the billing company at dinner time wanting to know were their money was, I think this approch lost me more then it gained. Just my opion, but I do use some of thier ideas.

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    >How do you avoid chasing around month after month to get the student's dues on >time??

    Since I answered the original OVERlying question, I’ve been thinking about this question and the presuppositions that are UNDERlying it.

    So I thought I’d cover that since it is so important.

    It’s fairly simple.

    People have no trouble paying for what they really, really want.

    For example, 2 days ago, one of my employees, Richard (NOT at the studio) asked how I could charge what I charge for Kenpo Karate.

    I told Richard, “talk with them and know what they really, really want, and then give it to them with pure 24 K gold during their lessons”.

    Richard still didn’t get it. Richard does not do Kenpo, and through he is interested in working out 10 minutes a day, he is more interested in “what’s for lunch? And where’s the hot fudge sundae?”

    What we do does NOT meet any of his deep rooted criteria, so attempting to “sell” him on the benefits would be like attempting to teach a pig to sing, which is an exercise in futility.

    So we have a “systematic process” of finding out what possible client’s inner needs are, if our Kenpo Karate can match those needs, and then to communicate to them in a very strong VERIFIABLE MANNER that their needs and wants will be taught, and taught better than anyone else in the area can teach them.

    So as long as your teaching gives them what they really, really want, and you keep pointing that they needs are really getting met, in a non-intrusive manner, they will continue coming to classes and paying you.

    Now, eventually everyone quits.

    No matter if someone loves T-bone steak, soon, they tire of it, if that is all you teach.

    So your teaching climate must have much more than T-bone steak. It must have “secrets”, many secrets that match their hidden desires, if you are to keep them awhile.

    So to keep them interested and coming and paying you need to have a smorgasbord of interests that lead them forward.

    When they bored, having a contract will not suffice to keep them paying when they stop coming.

    And there is a very viable tactic you can use at that time that will cause them to continue liking and appreciating you, so they continue to refer possible clients to you, even though they themselves are now doing golf on one week end once a month and have no desire to get on the mat and do Kenpo karate.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    So let me play the role of “consumer advocate” as a new student off the street with no MA background.

    Why should I join or commit to anything if I cannot observe a beginner’s class?

    Or examine some of the more “finished product” a school is offering, as in seeing an advanced class where my focus would not just be on the instructor but on the intermediate/advanced students – after all won’t I maybe be one of them in two-three years time?

    Perhaps I am still jaded from certain 1970/1980s experiences, as in the correlation the more secretive a dojo was to prospective students - the more likely it was a cult-like deal or fraudulent.

    Why would I enter into a year-long contractual commitment with a VERY small business? Martial Arts schools close their doors all the time, or move, or change their class schedules/course offerings etc.

    While I know many instructors of this board have been teaching at the same location for five or ten plus years – and congratulations and more power to you – as businessmen you also need to think of the buyer’s perspective - while striking a balance in getting their tuition money.

    As an aside and an current consumer beware example…
    Bally Total Fitness -that claims it has 400 locations in 70 cities - announced in March 2007 that it considering filing for bankruptcy due to debt. Now maybe your local franchise will still will be open during their Chapter 11 proceedings - but do you think someone who just signed a contract at the local Bally’s franchise as a New Year’s resolution in January is a happy camper today?

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    >So let me play the role of “consumer advocate” as a new student off the
    >street with no MA background.

    >Why should I join or commit to anything if I cannot observe a beginner’s
    >class?

    Well, man of NO name,
    Those are valid questions (I ignored the rest of his questions. I’ll tell the group why I ignored them in a minute, okay?).

    And BEFORE I answer any of your negative suppositions, I really want to know "WHY I (or ANYONE else) should ever answer any questions from anyone that does not even give his own REAL name, or his OWN previous experiences as a student, or hopefully his experiences as a Studio Owner and as a trainer of Kenpo Karate?

    WHY should any authority on this list answer anyone’s questions that do NOT have a verification process, besides their “opinions”, opinions that are nothing but a “mismatching behavioral profile”?

    Mismatchers never want to know how to do something.

    What they do is tell you what is wrong about what you do, even though they’ve never done it, can’t do it, and don’t want to learn how to do it.

    Those are pretty lousy qualifiers for any belief, are they not?

    Has anyone YET noticed that I’ve never before responded to anyone that posts that has NO “VERIFIABLE” NAME?

    The ONLY reason I did respond to this gentleman is because he’s been here a while.

    But then again, he’s only posted 8 times in the year he’s been here.

    That small amount of posts tells me something. Or maybe I should say, “That limited amount of posts really tells me something!”

    So you’ll notice that I did NOT respond to him at all, did I?

    I did go and read his 8 posts.

    Many don't know it but All people give away their mental and emotional attitudes when they post. 6 posts out of 8 were mismatching posts. And, he is NOT in Kenpo Karate. He did mention Shotokan Karate, and swords.

    On one hand I disrespect those that are moral cowards that do negative posts under aliases.

    On the other hand I totally respect those that post under their own names, and post from their own experiences, EVEN IF those experiences are vastly different than mine. At least they have the gonads (some are women) to tell it like they’ve experienced it.

    So if anyone wants a reply from me, now you know my simple rules, don’t you?

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Response: Tuition Blues

    For the record, my name is John McPartland, and currently training out of the Providence RI Metro area.

    Mister La Tourrette,
    Perhaps the one thing I do concur with your post is it is true I am not an active poster to this board. I also do belong and am more active on other MA message boards - but even there, I do not frequently post compared to other members.

    It has been my experience the typical polite response in this matter would have been:
    Please follow the rules and sign your name on all posts.

    For that omission I do apologize to all those concerned.

    The reason I sometimes frequent this board is I do have some minor background in Kempo and the simple reality that Kempoists represent a significant populace within the American Martial Arts community especially up here in the Northeast. So I do like to read about what they are thinking and doing when I get the chance.

    I didn’t think telling one’s MA life story was always necessary to participate within a message board. In terms of Kempo I was involved in the whole FVSSD Empire in the early 1980’s training under Don Spink. In fact I was one of Don’s original students when he opened up his studio start-up in Quincy Massachusetts back in the day. Regarding Kempo in my more recent years I have been doing some training with some direct students of Headmaster Bruce Juchnik of the SKSKI - but true - my focus is in fact the study of Japanese Swordsmanship first.

    This thread's subject was to my interest because it involves having a discussion with a MA school’s business model, something I do enjoy discussing. My many conversations over the years with head instructors regarding their tuition and marketing frustrations after class times - along with being a student (consumer) at other schools. Maybe because I am older, balder and more gray these instructors thought I was wise and could offer sage advice.

    My post above was not to be “negative”, but to state what I though was obvious. That MA schools, especially start up schools, do close their doors - and with the related inherent new student drop-out rate that exists at every school IMHO makes any long-term prepayment plans a “consumer issue.” As an aside somewhere in a packing crate in my house I still may have my “Lifetime membership” (free tuition) card from FVSSD which I bought for about $750. back in 1981. (It was half price sale too and made out on the deal – I reached the tuition break-even point!). If I had paid FULL price I would have LOST on the tuition deal because outside life events changed my training opportunities.

    BTW, wasn’t the “Man with No Name” Clint Eastwood’s gun fighter character in those Sergio Leone's western movies from the 1960s?
    John McPartland

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    Default Re: Response: Tuition Blues

    >For the record, my name is John McPartland, and currently training out of >the Providence RI Metro area.

    Thank you John.

    What do you want me to clarify?
    Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Response: Tuition Blues

    error...
    Michael


    de gustibus non disputante est.
    Negative Douche Bag Number One

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    Default Re: Tuition Blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Senjojutsu View Post
    So let me play the role of “consumer advocate” as a new student off the street with no MA background.

    Why should I join or commit to anything if I cannot observe a beginner’s class?

    Or examine some of the more “finished product” a school is offering, as in seeing an advanced class where my focus would not just be on the instructor but on the intermediate/advanced students – after all won’t I maybe be one of them in two-three years time?

    Perhaps I am still jaded from certain 1970/1980s experiences, as in the correlation the more secretive a dojo was to prospective students - the more likely it was a cult-like deal or fraudulent.

    Why would I enter into a year-long contractual commitment with a VERY small business? Martial Arts schools close their doors all the time, or move, or change their class schedules/course offerings etc.

    While I know many instructors of this board have been teaching at the same location for five or ten plus years – and congratulations and more power to you – as businessmen you also need to think of the buyer’s perspective - while striking a balance in getting their tuition money.

    As an aside and an current consumer beware example…
    Bally Total Fitness -that claims it has 400 locations in 70 cities - announced in March 2007 that it considering filing for bankruptcy due to debt. Now maybe your local franchise will still will be open during their Chapter 11 proceedings - but do you think someone who just signed a contract at the local Bally’s franchise as a New Year’s resolution in January is a happy camper today?
    I personally think this is a good post and contributes to the conversation. I would like to see the points raised treated with the respect and consideration they deserve, and without hostility...
    Michael


    de gustibus non disputante est.
    Negative Douche Bag Number One

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