What do I do when a student cancels a tutoring session at the last minute?
Another friend tutored in an exceptionally high net-worth area where parents regularly called 5 minutes prior to the start of lessons to say that their child was enjoying her play date so much that they couldn’t bear to break her apart from her new friend by having her attend tutoring that day; other parents just couldn’t seem to be bothered to drive their child to tutoring some days, despite the $85 per hour fee they paid in advance.
Another student regularly cancelled between 30 and 60 minutes prior to lessons because of illness. Perhaps he did suffer regular bouts of stomach flu, virus, and other such ailments, but typically these ailments occur throughout the day, meaning that the student should have ample time to provide the tutor with plenty of notice of cancellation.
When several such events occur over the course of a couple of days, or even a week, it’s challenging to not take the cancellations personally: Is it me? Do they not want to see me? Do they not like my tutoring style anymore?
Alternatively, many tutors just assume that their clients are self-centered and inconsiderate, not considering the expectations or time constraints of the busy tutor.
Generally, neither assumption is fully accurate. It’s likely your clients are busy, and it’s likely that they do indeed have something else they need to, or want to accomplish that day rather than meeting with you for your scheduled lesson. These things happen. Having a set policy that provides you with a clear response for each tutoring cancellation scenario will help save you from endless hand-wringing over whether to charge for a lesson that Sally simply forgot about, leaving you standing waiting outside of her house for 30 minutes waiting for her to answer the door or her phone. It’s a sad picture; don’t let it happen to you.