Oct 11, 2010

Posted in Featured Articles | 16 Comments

How do I cancel a private figure skating lesson?

How do I cancel a private figure skating lesson?

One of the most uncomfortable issues a private coach sometimes faces is what to do about students who cancel a lesson at the last minute or don’t show up. I think I am a little too nice, and I need help with that. I try to remember that a majority of lessons are missed because of the parent, and through no fault of the student. So I avoid reprimanding the student if the parent brought them late. 

As a coach, here are my issues: 

  1. I feel guilty charging for time I didn’t spend with a student - But I have to also look at it from the point of view that this is my job, I planned on this income to pay bills, therefore it is not fair to me. Hopefully, I will get better at this.
  2. I am very understanding if a parent calls me right before a lesson to cancel, if I haven’t made it to the rink yet or even if I have, I just go home and don’t charge them. But often times this does change my whole day. If I would have known I was going to have a day off, I would have brought some work out clothes with me and gone to the gym.
  3. Most of the time I have another student on the ice, so I can spend the time with them instead and not charge the person who has canceled.
  4. As long as the family doesn’t make it a habit, I have a hard time charging them. Even if it is becoming a habit, I have a hard time standing up for myself. I try to put myself in their shoes and be understanding of their situation.
  5. If a lesson is missed I ask the student to reschedule.

A few strategies could have helped me deal with this issue: 

  1. Charge for the month up front. If a student misses a lesson, they’ve already paid for it, so there’s no uncomfortable conversation the next week like, “By the way, you still owe me for last week.”
  2. Make a policy, in writing that I give to new students with rules to deal with situations such as this. My rule would/could be something like this:
    1. Cancellation of private lessons must be made 24 hours in advance
    2. In the case of a last-minute cancellation due to illness, a doctor’s note will be needed 
  3. Make a policy that allows for one cancellation every six months, or something similar.

 As a parent how can I help? 

  1. Be respectful and always let your coach know as soon as possible you can’t make a lesson. Llet your coach know. I tend to check my email.
  2. Offer to pay for the missed lesson
  3. Reschedule the lesson as soon as possible
  4. Apologize and don’t make it a habit
  5. Bring your coach fresh warm cookies to the next lesson- Okay this is a joke, but it can’t hurt right?

 


Today on Rinkformation:

IceMom.net: Does Your Figure Skating Club Do Anything Special for Advancing Skaters?

IceCoach.net: How do I cancel a private figure skating lesson?


Private figure skating lessons are different from other sport’s practices or lessons because most of the time, you pay after the fact. If you sign up for group lessons you have already paid, so if you miss a class you don’t get a refund.

Parents, what else should coaches like me do? How can a coach stand up for themselves and the income they depend on without coming off the wrong way? How much is too much? What are your coach’s policies? 


Do you have a question for Ice Coach? Do you have a suggestion for a post you’d like to read? E-mail me at IceCoach@IceCoach.net.  


Photo credits:
Red Telephone Box: crimsonsoul on Morguefile.com
Telephone Box Shaftesbury Avenue: malias / Gideon on Flickr.com Creative Commons
Telephone Boxes: malias / Gideon on Flickr.com Creative Commons
Out of Order, Kingston, London.: Jim Linwood / Jim on Flickr.com Creative Commons

  • icebethy

    i have one coach that will not charge and one that will, for the whole lesson even when she gets on with a parent say when the parents skater is 18 and the parent is still paying for lessons the skater does not turn upto.
    although i never cancel a coach the only exception to that is illness and the coach saw me on the wednesday knowing i had been ill for two days but was feeling better for a friday lesson however i got worse and was in bed so text her on the thursday to tell her i would not be making it. but i feel if the skater has missed a lesson coaches should be able to charge as you have said its your income and it pays your bills.
    my rink is going through some changes including charging your coach if you stay on the ice longer than your hour patch ice cost, but this charge is £15 per skater! when most coaches charge £8 per 15 min lessons. there are other changes at our rink so i think this charging if you do not turn up may become a rule.

  • Anonymous

    I can totally understand an illness. I find it interesting that your rink is going to make it mandatory. Thanks for sharing! I love hearing what other places are doing. I am pretty flexible because I am human and figure one day I will mess up and forget a lesson, or be late so it will work out in the end.

  • http://xan-boni.blogspot.com/ Xan from XanBoni

    Excellent topic! I used not to charge for an unnotified missed lesson if an extra make-up lesson was scheduled within two weeks, until a parent figured out how to game the system by then canceling the make up within the default time (12 hours notice, by phone) so she wouldn’t have to pay (she was a lawyer and then explained to me how this was contractually acceptable. Thanks, from someone who makes 1/10 your income). I’m no longer as liberal as you– no make ups, no doctor’s excuses. I do let the first time go, to give me an opening to explain this, and then at that time make everyone sign a contract where this is spelled out. By making the first one a freebie, you get a non-confrontational opportunity to bring the issue up, and you’re saving them money at the same time. My default time is generous– by 6 p.m. the night before for morning lessons, by 9 a.m. day of for afternoon lessons, but I don’t allow any excuses at all for missing the deadline. I got too many “too much homework, tummy hurts, mommy’s tired, the dog ate my skates” excuses and finally drew a line.

  • http://icemom.net/2010/10/does-your-figure-skating-club-do-anything-special-for-advancing-skaters.html Does Your Figure Skating Club Do Anything Special for Advancing Skaters? | Ice Mom.net

    [...] IceCoach.net: How do I cancel a private figure skating lesson? [...]

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Xan, for the great advice and a laugh this morning. I have gotten everything but the dog ate my skates, it’s only a matter of time tho!

  • http://icemom.net Ice Mom

    I try very hard not to cancel a lesson, but to my shame, we’ve been awful lately at waking up for 6 a.m. ice.

    However, I always try to pay for the missed lesson and reschedule. I really don’t want to breed resentment between our family and my daughter’s coach. That coaching relationship is way too important to mess with.

    It’s unfair for people to expect the coach to swallow the time and expense because we couldn’t get our act together. It’s her business and parents should respect that.

  • NewbieSkaterUK

    Good post, I have to say I am good with this (with the exception of once telling my coach two weeks in advance (planned holiday) and she forgot, and I didn’t remind her lol) I will always give my coach notice, and usually try and do a makeup lesson, but that’s just so I get the ice time. However, it does work both ways, if the coach is ill/not working then he/she should let the skaters know asap too :) we like to do other things if the lesson is cancelled too *cough* shop *cough*

  • Anonymous

    I have been guilty of this once. It was a day I normally had off so I assumed I had it off and didn’t schedule a lesson. Turns out I did have a lesson planned for that day. I think it works both ways too, so I gave them a free lesson on their next bill. I wouldn’t do this for an illness, but I didn’t even notify them so I felt bad.

  • NewbieSkaterUK

    I am really lucky that our rink is a tad disorganised, and don’t even know who people have lessons with, let alone when their lesson finished :) but I pay £20 for a half hour lesson and £3.50 for the session (on public ice not patch) think it’s £4 for patch, so would be a lot to lose through carelessness or rudeness. Plus I like my coach, wouldn’t want him to lose money

  • Anonymous

    Running a business, I understand why charging for missed lessons (uncancelled) is important.

    I think that it is a good policy to have in your contract of service. But with that said, I also think that you have to deal with each case on it’s own. I feel exactly like you IceCoach, I don’t like to charge if I don’t do the work. However, if I have someone who completely abuses my good will, I will charge them.

    I have been on the consumer end. We were charged for a missed lesson, no warning, no nothing (no policy up front, not contract). It was an oversleep issue on our part, the first time and we had been with her for at least a year. I noticed that this coach doesn’t always charge for missed lessons with all her students. Why us? I don’t know. I do know that this coach really @#+* and moans when someone doesn’t show up. We eventually left this coach for the reason that I was so stressed about potentially missing a lesson with her, and being charged, that I decided for my own sanity to leave (two years later).

    Our primary coach offered to talk with her about this, but I figured it’s her policy, I have a choice to leave or not, I didn’t expect her to treat me specially. It’s her business practice, I am not comfortable with it, so I left, my choice.

    Our primary coach doesn’t charge. Life happens and once in a while he misses, once in a while we miss. No biggie.

    I have a 24 hour cancellation policy for my business, but personally, I would rather people cancel under 24 hours if they are sick. I don’t want to catch anything from them. The policy is there in case I have abusers, then I can enforce it when needed.

    For larger businesses this might not be a good idea, there are too many people out there taking advantage. But for me, I know my clients. I know that I want their business. I know that they are human and life happens. I will stick to dealing with one case at a time for now. I know that as a consumer I don’t enjoy dealing with people who can’t bend the rules dependent on situation, and I chose not to do business with them. I want my clients to feel like they are special and I will treat them as such. It’s the benefit of a small business.

  • Anon!!!!!

    Love this topic – which is very timely for me!!
    My skater has never missed a lesson in the several months she’s had her current coach. But twice I’ve taken her to skate when she wasn’t really well because she (inconsiderately lol) got sick the morning of the lesson and it just seems too much money to lose (although I lose some anyway when she skates at half strength).
    I don’t especially admire this strategy of mine, but it’s very late night as I post this, and she’s just now thrown up … and with no chance to cancel “in time” yet again (why oh why can’t she get sick a couple of days in advance), I do find myself starting to rationalise again: maybe she’ll be fine in the morning … maybe she’s not really contagious … maybe it doesn’t matter since everyone has gloves on … $sigh$.
    I know – I’m despicable.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry you skater isn’t feeling well, don’t they know they are only allowed to get sick on weekend days that are non-skating days? Being sick is the only reason I do understand. I am sure some coaches charge for a missed lesson because of illness. I don’t but I am sure some parents use it to their advantage. Yes, my skater was “sick” *cough* we didn’t forget, we never do that :)

  • Anonymous

    It definately is a case by case basis I think that is why I don’t have a policy yet. I like to be flexible and work with people, and would expect the same in return if I happen to sleep in by mistake that morning. Its just the people who abuse the system that make me not want to be so generous.

  • erica

    My rink has a policy of paying for missed lessons unless you cancel with 24 hours notice. Not sure how strict this is, as its down to the coaches to enforce it or not.

    The only time I’ve missed a lesson at the last minute was when i overslept. I felt really bad, especially as my coach picks me up for my lessons! I think it was only my second or third lesson with a new coach as well. I immediately said i would pay for the missed lesson next time I saw her, as I knew I would feel awkward asking for money in her position, especially as we’re friends.

    Best excuse I’ve had from a coach cancelling at short notice was “my balcony door has blown off in the wind!” lol! and it was true as well!

  • erica

    My rink has a policy of paying for missed lessons unless you cancel with 24 hours notice. Not sure how strict this is, as its down to the coaches to enforce it or not.

    The only time I’ve missed a lesson at the last minute was when i overslept. I felt really bad, especially as my coach picks me up for my lessons! I think it was only my second or third lesson with a new coach as well. I immediately said i would pay for the missed lesson next time I saw her, as I knew I would feel awkward asking for money in her position, especially as we’re friends.

    Best excuse I’ve had from a coach cancelling at short notice was “my balcony door has blown off in the wind!” lol! and it was true as well!

  • Anonymous

    “My balcony door has blown off” I love it! Yea an reason like that would have to be true, who could make that up :)

  • Kelsey

    I’ve actually never had to miss a lesson. I never get sick, and nothing unexpected ever happens on private lesson days. On group lesson days, lots of things happen. Like the cops coming to our house right before we were going to leave. And that day we got held up by a road crew. But it doesn’t matter if I’m late for the group lesson.

    My rink, however, has a 24 hour cancellation policy, and if you cancel less than 24 hours before you have to pay before you schedule another lesson. I don’t know if my coach would make us pay or not.

    My coach has only canceled on me once, and it was because she had broken her ankle two days before. I’d say that’s a good enough reason.. who wants to coach when they’ve just broken their ankle?