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Awkward Moment #2: Client Pays Late

Your Piano Lesson Tuition was due on the 15th. It is now the 18th and your student hasn't paid. Ack! What to do?

Deal with it.

Trust me, this problem has never been solved by ignoring it. In the history of all piano teachers, and all late paying clients, this problem has never been solved by not dealing with it.

I'm serious. Go google it. (Um, no don't)

Dear Piano Teacher Friend, I know you don't want to deal with it. I know it that it is awkward and uncomfortable. I know you feel various feelings of anger and indignation (how could they not pay me?!) to compassion and patience (they've been so busy, they must have just forgotten.)

And it just feels weird to approach it.

But approach it you must.

Here's a simple, step by step approach to dealing with this awkward situation.

1. Friendly email first

Something along the lines of "Hey, I'm sure this just slipped your mind, you guys doing o.k.? I'm concerned for you because I know you've probably got a lot going on, but this is just a friendly reminder that tuition was due on the 15th." And if you can attach a copy or your invoice (or send a reminder through Paypal, etc.) do that too.

2. Friendly phone call second

I know, you don't like to make phone calls. However, it's time now to pick up the phone and make friendly phone call. Something along the lines of "Hey, sorry to bug you during the day. Just wanted to call and check to see if you had a chance to pop the tuition in the mail? If you could get to that, along with the late fee, I would appreciate that."

3. Friendly, but direct conversation third. Preferably in person, on the phone if only option.

OK, we've reached the point where it is actually pretty awkward. You are going to have to have an awkward conversation.

But, lest you shy away from this, do you want to know what is more awkward? You not paying your mortgage. Enough said.

With a smile, say something along the lines of "Unfortunately, I haven't received your payment even after a couple of reminders. I'm afraid I will have to offer your spot to someone else next month unless you are able to get me your payment in full along with the appropriate late fee."

Of course, your student will probably not respond to this well, and may even perceive it as a threat.

It's not a threat, it is a consequence of them not holding up their end of this piano lesson bargain. You agreed, they agreed that, in exchange for your piano lessons, they would give you pieces of paper with presidents' faces on them. When you give the lesson, but they don't give the money? Well, the consequence is no more lessons.

Sounds tough? It is. But remember the process. You've inquired as to how they are actually doing -- showing that you genuinely care for them. You have already given them two very friendly reminders. If, after those reminders, it is still not important enough to them to get it to you, then you need to consider whether you have space on their schedule for them or not.

Remember, you want to always treat your clients with graciousness and gratitude, but your first priority is to your family's well being. That means, you must take the awkward path and deal with the awkward situation in order to ensure you are paid in a timely manner.

So, the next time this awkward situation happens, and believe me, it will, take those three steps:

Friendly email

Friendly phone call

Direct conversation

Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

#money #bestpractices