I was going to delve deeper into what makes a customer a bad customer, but then I slowly realized archetypes might be a better approach. Now I won’t be using the archetypes to insult people, but to reveal traits and habits of parents who frequent my establishment.
1. Mother Goose: Mother goose is the mother who is overbearing to her children and in most cases are actually being abused by their children. The kids can be very disrespectful, and you see that in the classroom, where the first thing we need to do with these kids is to establish a clear line of authority. The mothers actually don’t mind that you try to enforce authority on their kids, as long as you don’t “frighten” them too much. If done right, these mothers can be very good, long term customers and can have a positive effect on word of mouth advertising.
2. The invisible moms: The only time you see these moms is when they bring in the kids for the first time. After that the kids get transported by bus from place A to place B, seldom directly to their home. These moms only need to know two things, a. the kid is safely transported in a timely fashion, and b. the kid is not complaining about the classes. The kids though have great need of affection, and by becoming their friend and giving them enough attention, it is not that hard to keep them in school.
3. The intrusive moms: These are the moms who will try to minutely interfere with your classes whenever there is the smallest of issues. Class finished 2 mins early, the lesson plan was done completely. Little MinSu didn’t have a chance to talk. Or plainly your curriculum needs changing. These types of mothers quickly find a better school than yours, so don’t trouble yourselves too much with keeping these moms happy, by doing so, you might actually lose other students.
4. The desperate mom: The desperate moms have kids who hate English, kids who don’t fit into most hagwon systems of rote memorization, and therefore refuse to learn any more English. I can tell you that these students are my best students, within three months they gain confidence, start talking and laughing and having a blast. I will never lose these students simply because the mothers are so happy the kids are finally learning English.
5.The hit and run mom: These moms spend a lot of money in a short time hoping their child will learn all the English he needs within 3 months. Be careful when some moms propose their kids needs more than the usual program, they seem like good customers, but they quickly change into very demanding mothers and asking extra services. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by these moms.
6. Fathers. Trouble. I never had a father come in and things ran smoothly, the one exception was a father who spoke fluent English and assisted his wife in the communications, but he clearly didn’t want to be there.
7. Supportive moms: Supportive moms are those that also want to learn English at the same time as their kids, so they can assist them at home.
I am sure we can come up with more archetypes, but these are prevalent in my school. Can you think of any other?