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How do I get my students to pay on time?

If you are a voice teacher who is employed at a voice studio or music school, you’re lucky when it comes to the financial side of things—you only have to wait for your monthly paycheck!

But for self-employed voice instructors, it can become a pain in the neck to get students to pay on time. Here is some advice on how to get around the trouble, maintain a good relationship with your students, and have your money in the bank at the end of the month.

Create a payment policy

A firm payment policy makes your life easier in many ways. 

Ask your students to pay for the lesson at the time of booking either via credit card, PayPal, or money transfer. Then you won’t have to chase the payment in case of a short-notice cancelation.

No matter when you require your students to pay, the policy should state something like this: “At the latest, payment is due at the time of the lesson.”

Here are some additional things you can include in your payment policy:

  • If the payment is not received at the time of the lesson, the next booking can only take place after payment is made.
  • A late fee will be assessed if the payment is made 30 days after the lesson took place.
  • Specify the payment method you prefer.

Online booking system

Nowadays, you should definitely have a website outlining your services so singers can find you when they are looking for a voice teacher. On the website, you can add a payment link for bookings and payment.

There are different kinds of online booking systems available that you can build into your payment site so your students can pick their desired lesson slot and pay for the lesson right then and there (with credit card, wired transfer, or PayPal). This makes it fairly easy for you to get your payments on time.

Disadvantages of this way of booking and payment might be the financial charges associated with credit card companies and PayPal, as well as a certain inflexibility when it comes to scheduling your teaching day/week/month.

Possible late fee and payment reminder

Some of your students will always make sure to get you their payment right on time. However, others might need the pressure of a possible late fee that is announced in your payment policy. The time frame and amount is up to you; however, to keep it reasonable, you might want to go with something like 30 days and five to ten dollars per week late.

A good way to also encourage students to pay on time is to send out a payment reminder a few days after their lesson took place if they missed a payment. This will make them feel responsible and avoid a late-payment fee.

Get an office manager

If your studio is big enough and you are able to hire an office manager, let them take care of the financial side of things. If they are the ones handing out studio policies, scheduling lessons, and chasing payments in a gentle and professional manner, it will make your life easier, and it will also protect your personal relationships with your students.

As with all situations in life and when conducting business, make sure to stay flexible! Of course you don’t want any customer to take advantage of you. But when a student is having a special financial situation and you want to—and can—accommodate them, then do it! Never hurt a good relationship with a student by being too strict with your policies.

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Stephanie Borm-Krüger was born in 1975 in Munich and has pursued an education in pedagogy and teaching since graduating from high school.

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