Keep your students up to date with payments – subtly, non-aggressively and consistently
As a Callan Method school, we charge our students on a month-to-month basis. After their free trial lessons, they should start paying for the following four weeks of classes. A lot of them pay on time, of course, but there are also quite a few situations in which we have to bend the rules a bit. Maybe they’re getting paid in 10 days’ time and ask you if they could start now but pay for their classes then. “Absolutely. Not an issue at all.“
The problem arises when you have dozens of these types of students and have to keep track of which student has paid when. When is their next installment due? Which period have they paid for? If you’re like me, you keep this all in a spreadsheet. A list of students, their start date, date of payment, a different sheet for each time period. I would check every day or so to see who is late with payments, constantly double-checking the time period over the last few months to see if I’ve messed something up.
Sometimes, a few weeks has gone past before I realise that someone hasn’t paid but is regularly attending their lessons. That’s where the situation gets a bit tricky. I would feel awkward coming up to them after class, especially if there were others around them. If I called them into my office, it would make the issue seem so serious. We have such a friendly relationship with our students that I dreaded when I had to remind someone to pay. That awkward moment when…
School management system CRM4CALLAN
– a program that keeps track of all of that automatically
Then we switched to CRM4CALLAN – a program that keeps track of all of that automatically. Now when a student signs up, I add them to the system right there and then. Because it’s specifically designed for Callan schools, it knows exactly what to do. Students are assigned to a group. Their start date is automatically logged. Their following one-month period is logged. Each payment is entered into the system. When somebody is late for a payment, the system notifies me. It gives me a week’s leeway (just in case they’re just about to pay), but after that week, I get a list of unpaid lessons and who owes what. I just press the COPY EMAILS button and send out a nicely-worded message to everyone to remind them to pay. Simple, efficient and reliable.
Now I don’t have to manually keep track of payment dates and payment periods. I’ve been saving so much time and nerves, it’s unbelievable. I don’t feel stressed about unpaid bills anymore. I have more time to focus on making my students happier at school.
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So what do I do with my free time? ‘Coffee in English’
Now that I’m not worrying about missed payments anymore, we’ve introduced ‘Coffee in English’, which is a great way to get to know your students and get them practising English in an informal environment. We do this about once or twice a week with a different group each time. After their lesson, we go to a nearby coffee shop and just chat. Chat about the weather, chat about their lives, our lives, learning English, whatever. We usually get a different teacher to go each time so it’s interesting for the students. Here, with a cappucino in hand, they’re less stressed about speaking perfect English. We don’t correct them like we do in a Callan class. We let them make mistakes. It’s just important for them to have practise in a not-so-structured environment. They need to be free to express themselves and feel confident making small talk with others.
The option of, technically, a free class with an English teacher, adds to our offer. We put it up as part of what they get for their money. Costing us nothing, except maybe paying our teacher for that hour, this event leaves a great impression on our students. They use the English they’ve learnt in class and implement it in a regular, real life situation. Essentially, you’re proving to them that the Callan Method works.
We’ve found that these ‘Coffee in English’ sessions have proved very successful. We take photos of the students and post them to our Facebook page. This way we get a lot of likes and comments. They have more of a reason to tell their friends and family about the school. It’s something new and not so common at other language schools. People start looking at your school not only as an educational institution, but also as a place to hang out and meet new people. The students love it! Try it out and take note of the difference it makes.
Tip: If your classes are really late in the evening, go out for a beer! Why not?
Head teacher of Inicijativa school in Split, Croatia