Problem Payers and general Muppetry.

As Instructors or club owners we have all experienced the student that finds it difficult to pay their way. 

There seem to be three main categories of these types of student. Over the years I have encountered them all and learnt to deal with them in different ways.

The first category of student that find it difficult to pay are those that area genuinely ‘skint’  and would love to train and often won’t come because they can’t afford to. This can be because of  some unexpected major financial difficulty e.g. losing their job.

The second are those that think they cant afford to train, come along and make a point ‘paying next week’ or not quite having enough change’. This category can merge into the third category if not shown the path early enough :)

The third category are those that don't see why they should have to pay and don’t know why we need to charge money for what essentially is a ‘bit of fun’.

From my experience here is how I have dealt with all three. The solutions I offer you are based on trial and error and I have made mistakes of course :)

1/ If you have a long term student and know them well and you also know they are genuinely struggling financially let them them train ‘for free’ for a short while. Set a timescale where you can review the situation. More often than not they will resolve their difficulties and all will be back to normal. If things don’t improve financially for them suggest they pay there way through helping you ….that way they are giving not taking. 

2/ mmmmmmmm..… I’ve had a couple of these. One lad  came for a few weeks then ‘couldn’t ‘ pay on the evening so I suggested he bring double the next week. The following week he still didn’t have any change so ‘couldn’t’ pay. I had a chat with him outside whilst he was smoking a cigarette. The cigarette came from a packet of cigarettes in his possession. At the time the packet of cigarettes cost approximately the same as the hour long training session at the club. I was not impressed.

Now friends will tell you I have the memory of a goldfish. At my age if I remember why I have entered a room that is a result. Coaches often have to email me a couple of times just to remind me to send them something. However with certain things …things that annoy me…. things that aren’t right or just ……I turn into ‘elephant brain woman’, a little known superhero.

That was the last I saw of this lad. Well for a few months anyway. Then one warm September evening he turned up with his new girlfriend in tow. 

Keen to impress her with his martial knowledge and status within the club he came into the hall very confidently and announced his presence with loud hellos :) Of course he was greeted by all the regulars in a friendly manner. I wandered over to him said hello , was introduced to his girlfriend. He asked if he could train ‘as usual’ and could his girlfriend join in as he wanted to show her ‘a thing or two’ which could help her ‘defend herself’ if she got into any ‘trouble’ as she was off to university the following week …..

Now luckily this is where my new superhero ‘Elephant Brain Women’ took over. Of course he could train. Of course she could join in….. it was lovely to see him again. As he was a ‘regular’ student he wouldn’t have to pay the new prices for the lessons he owed me just the new prices for tonight  for both him and his girlfriend. Elephant Brain Women did some quick mental arithmetic, held out her hand and waited for it to be filled with gold from foreign lands. The gold arrived eventually, some of it in small denominations but arrive it did! Not wanting to lose face he coughed up, joined in for the lesson and I never saw him again. 

3/ Why should they pay? after all it is only Martial Arts not a real ‘lesson’ ‘subject’ or academic activity. Well this is why.

The hall has to be paid for.

The Instructor has to spend time opening the hall, checking all is well etc.

A good Teacher/ Instructor often spends time planning a lesson

Any credible Instructor will be fully insured. This has to be paid for

Any credible instructor will be first aid trained. This has to be paid for.

Any decent Instructor DBS/CRB checked (if they work with vulnerable people). Oh does that cost money too?

Surprisingly the instructor may just possibly have paid for training themselves over years? you know just  a bit. …Lets do some sums shall we…I’ll use ME as a rough example. I will also ‘convert ‘the cost into todays monetary equivalent because when I started training a pound was worth a lot more then than it is now !!

My early Martial Arts training 9in the eighties)  7 years 2 or 3 times a week cost plus seminars in todays money approx £15,000  various Arts 5 years including seminars and private training £10,000 later training in Eskrima over17 years including private lessons, time, travelling and establishing Dacayana UK & Europe £40K ?? .. really difficult to add it all up ….. but let’s say i have spent an absolute minimum of £60k in learning to do what I do. I’m sure some of the Dacayana UK & Europe coaches have spent even more on their Martial training.

So if you come along to any Dacayana UK & Europe club for a lesson and get charged a few quid for an hours lesson, just pay …it is after all, incredibly good value.

Update - since this was written the only way to pay me is by standing order - or for seminars online in advance - …why did I never think of this years ago ?