Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

A means of networking for Eikaiwa/English school owners and information for setting up a business in Japan (procedures, legal issues, etc.)
Forum rules
The basic forum rules are here :wink: . Refer to the BBCode Guide for information on using BBCode tags, plus this post about additional tags for embedding video.
User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:11 pm

Image

DISCLAIMER
I don’t consider any information or advice outlined in the following to be the be all and end all of starting your own English school in Japan and nor do I profess to be an expert on the subject. I have however recently started my own small school that has become quite successful and the following will include information on how I did it, what I wish I had of done and what I wish I had of done differently. I’ll update and add additional stuff (in no particular order) when I get the time and am in the mood.

p.s. I’ve got no interest in justifying anything I have to say here so if you think I’m talking bollocks about a particular topic etc. be my guest and start your own thread on the subject!

SCHOOL NAME
Don’t be lazy and call your school something along the lines of “Dave Plonker’s English School”. It’s lame, lazy and has little to no future marketing potential. Take some time to think of a good name for your school, something short and catchy that sums up who you are and what your school is about.

WEBSITE / BLOG
Website

As far as I’m concerned a website is an absolute must when starting your own school and there are plenty of cheap hosts about who you can purchase a domain name, an email account and an easy website building program from for a couple of hundred dollars. Just be sure that the host you decide on supports Japanese language input! Your domain name should be short and informative and your website doesn’t have to be full of flashy crap, but I think you need at least 5 pages worth of content as a minimum.

e.g.
Page 1: A basic introduction / welcome page with a few photos (including the obligatory photo of you doing the thumbs up pose) and banners etc.
Page 2: A philosophy page outlining who you are, what you do and why you do it.
Page 3: A courses page outlining what courses you offer and what each course is all about etc.
Page 4: A fees page outlining the exact cost for all of the different courses and any discounts you offer.
Page 5: A contact page outlining where your school is, how you get there, what days and times you’re open and of course all of your contact information.

I had absolutely no experience whatsoever in website building before I decided to set up my own but with a little trial and error (and quite a bit of swearing at times) I was able to knock up something that works well and looks half decent in a couple of weeks of playing around in my free time.

Blog
There are plenty of easy to use free blog hosts about and having a blog is a good (and free) way to advertise additional information about you and your school without cluttering up your website. I’ve got various links on my school website that direct a potential student to different blog posts with lots of pictures of our school, our students and student comments etc.

STUDENTS
One of the biggest things you need to decide before doing anything is ‘who do you want to teach?’ For me, as I’m a qualified early childhood educator, I wanted to focus primarily on Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Elementary School aged children (I also however offer various course for older children and adults). My school name, logo, website, advertising and basically everything and anything related to my business reflects this. Obviously if you want to focus on teaching adults you’ll do things quite a bit differently than if you were to focus on kids. Personally I think it would be very difficult to open a successful school primarily focused on adults and with so much interest out there at the moment for elementary school kids learning English you’d be crazy to look past all of that potential cash.

CURRICULUM
Once you’ve decided who you want to teach you need to spend some time working out what you want to teach them. There are so many texts out there to choose from and it can be quite overwhelming at first in trying to find something decent. Over a couple of weeks I went into town to check out textbooks about 4 times, each of around 3-4 hours looking through stuff and taking notes etc. before I purchased a single book.
From my experience all of the additional CDs you can get for kid’s texts are utter crap. The same goes for the Teacher Texts that accompany the various levels of that particular series of kid’s texts. Also the flashcards you can get are crap to use during lessons as they're are WAY too small to be of any use. Buy the Student Book and the Workbook and make your own flashcards. I don’t recommend you rip images from Google Image Search to make your own flashcards or to buy the small textbook series flashcards and resize them on your printer/photocopier. That would be a terrible thing to do if you get my drift!

For kids songs during lessons I highly recommend anything put out by “Super Simple Songs”.

For adult texts you’ll probably have to fork out some extra cash for the Teacher’s Book as they often contain the answer keys and scripts needed to accompany the Student and Workbooks.

Take the time to write and print out your own lesson plans for each lesson from whatever combination of textbook, CDs and Flashcards you decide to use, as it will really help your lessons flow and come across professionally. Not to mention that once you get around 50+ students like where I’m at it makes it heaps easier to keep track of exactly who has done what lesson etc.



That’s it for today. Unless I get any requests for a specific topic, the next time I’ll probably talk about Registering with the tax man and all his requirements, Trading Hours, Pricing and Advertising etc.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

sirwanksalot
Masturbateur
Masturbateur
Posts: 1751
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:40 pm

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by sirwanksalot » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:37 pm

SamhainP8 wrote:Dave Plonker’s English School”.
I resent you using my real name in that way.

Sankyuberymucho
Eikaiwa Hero
Eikaiwa Hero
Posts: 568
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2006 7:18 am

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by Sankyuberymucho » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:47 pm

Good post SamhainP8, I look forward to the next instalment. Do you do all the teaching yourself? Also I'm kind of interested how you cope with students being at vastly different levels, but only having a limited schedule? Obviously most students are at a basic level, but there are some students who may have attended english classes for a while, who can get quite good. From my perspective organising the curriculum must be one of the biggest challenges.

Also how do you organise the different age groups? What techniques do you use for maintaining classroom discipline? How many students normally in a class?

Your wife is Japanese right? I was wondering whether it is possible to just roll-up to Japan and open your own school (without having a spouse visa or similar).

Anyway, I'm sure you will talk about some of these things in future posts.

User avatar
Mogura
Porn Lord
Porn Lord
Posts: 3096
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2003 8:39 pm
Location: The Love Hotel
Contact:

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by Mogura » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:19 pm

SamhainP8 wrote:SCHOOL NAME
Don’t be lazy and call your school something along the lines of “Dave Plonker’s English School”. It’s lame, lazy and has little to no future marketing potential. Take some time to think of a good name for your school, something short and catchy that sums up who you are and what your school is about.
+1

I would also add to that school names reflecting the owner's nationality (or is it nationalism?), "Stars and Stripes", "Maple Leaf", "Sickle & Hammer", etc. It's cheesy to say the least.

Also, if you're wanting to have your domain name and school name to be one and the same, then you may have to rely on "what's left" in cyberspace. For example, if your school name is Dancing Bear, and you want to register it as dancingbear.com then you're kinda SOL.

Anyway, I think it's great that you're doing this thread. Hopefully it will encourage others to make the entrepreneurial leap. It's really not that difficult...
Lick my troll, goosh... :bird:

User avatar
senseiman
9 miles of bad road
9 miles of bad road
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: Japan again

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by senseiman » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:24 am

I ran my own `school` from 2003-2005. Not sure if school is the right word, basically we (wife and I) just set up a room in our place as a classroom and went from there.

Anyway, good post, Samhain. I agree with pretty much everything and its good advice for people looking to do the same to follow. We didnt have a website or blog, but that was a few years ago and I agree that it is probably a must have today. We never had a name for our place either, actually. All our students we got through word of mouth and (ahem) from a certain big eikaiwa, so we never had any need to advertise, which is the main purpose of having a name.

About the question sankyuberymucho raised, I dont think it would be possible to just arrive in Japan and set up a school. Well, it might be possible, but it wouldnt be easy. There is just so much involved that requires knowledge of the local area and connections. Our place (which we rented specifically because it had a room suitable for use as a classroom) we were able to get through a friend who was a real estate agent and did a lot of work to help us out, for example. Getting students for us too, as I said, was entirely through connections we already had.

If you are married and your wife is a teacher too, it can be a really great thing to do together. When I think back to 2002 when my wife and I would sit in restaurants for hours pooring over our plans, figuring out a curriculum, budget, etc, I have a lot of fond memories. It can be a really fun and exciting thing to do.
祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響あり。娑羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰のことわりをあらはす。おごれる人も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢のごとし。たけき者も遂にほろびぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

User avatar
angryboy
Busdriver
Busdriver
Posts: 2566
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:55 pm
Location: Abroad enroute to Shopping

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by angryboy » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:12 pm

i would also like to add to the point about not being lazy, don`t be lazy and then try to be all smug
and creative straight after - like Dave`s English Emporium - it sounds even worse.
[quote="valve-bouncer"]Fuck me, I hope to christ you are a troll because the possibility of someone so mind-numbingly boring as you walking amongst us gives me the fear.[/quote]

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:12 pm

sirwanksalot wrote:
SamhainP8 wrote:Dave Plonker’s English School”.
I resent you using my real name in that way.
:lol: Sorry mate I'll try not to let it happen again.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:33 pm

Sankyuberymucho wrote:Good post SamhainP8, I look forward to the next instalment. Do you do all the teaching yourself? Also I'm kind of interested how you cope with students being at vastly different levels, but only having a limited schedule? Obviously most students are at a basic level, but there are some students who may have attended english classes for a while, who can get quite good. From my perspective organising the curriculum must be one of the biggest challenges.

Also how do you organise the different age groups? What techniques do you use for maintaining classroom discipline? How many students normally in a class?

Your wife is Japanese right? I was wondering whether it is possible to just roll-up to Japan and open your own school (without having a spouse visa or similar).

Anyway, I'm sure you will talk about some of these things in future posts.
Yeah I'm the only teacher so you're right in saying that I have a limited schedule, especially so being that my focus is on after-school kids etc.

My children's classes are separated by age, as in general I’ve found that the older a child is the more advanced lesson material they are able to cope with and my curriculum reflects this. In saying that though I have got a couple of kids that are in a higher aged class because their ability is far beyond that of similarly aged children. It’s not a perfect system but It’s working OK so far.

I currently have classes for: 親子クラス (1ー3歳) ; 幼稚園児 (3-6歳) ; 低学年(1-3年生); 高学年(4-6年生)plus a bunch of semi-private classes with family members of various ages etc.

At my classroom (because of space restrictions) my class size is a maximum of 6 kids. I have just signed up two classes each of 10 children that start from next month at a massive apartment complex that has a hireable “Kid’s Room” with a ton of space and I’ve capped those classes at 10 children. This is to make my job easier and also to ensure each kid gets enough attention so to speak. With 400+ families in the complex, it seems most likely that I’ll get at least another 2 x 10 student classes there by the end of the year.

I use all and every skill, trick and technique learned and honed from 2 years of Nova kids and 2+ years of working in a kindergarten in Australia to maintaining classroom discipline!

Yes Penelope is Japanese and she looks after all of the tax, contract and student enrolment processes etc. She also did and continues to do a kick arse job in translating all of the website and blog content I write.

I’m really going to try to avoid making any comments here about stuff I have no experience in as much as possible. For me to answer your questions about starting up a school without a spouse visa etc. I’d have to go and crawl google which you can do yourself.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:40 pm

Mogura wrote:Also, if you're wanting to have your domain name and school name to be one and the same, then you may have to rely on "what's left" in cyberspace. For example, if your school name is Dancing Bear, and you want to register it as dancingbear.com then you're kinda SOL.

Anyway, I think it's great that you're doing this thread. Hopefully it will encourage others to make the entrepreneurial leap. It's really not that difficult...
I was quite stunned to find that my ideal domain name was available! I had prepared several other variations of it just in case though.

Yep, it’s certainly not that difficult to make the leap.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:44 pm

senseiman wrote:If you are married and your wife is a teacher too, it can be a really great thing to do together. When I think back to 2002 when my wife and I would sit in restaurants for hours pooring over our plans, figuring out a curriculum, budget, etc, I have a lot of fond memories. It can be a really fun and exciting thing to do.
Really! I remember Penelope and me fighting a hell of a lot and at one stage wondering if we had made the right choice…. There was a bunch of other stresses involved also though.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:44 pm

angryboy wrote:i would also like to add to the point about not being lazy, don`t be lazy and then try to be all smug
and creative straight after - like Dave`s English Emporium - it sounds even worse.
Yep there are some doozies about.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:33 pm

ADVERTISING
This is an updated copy-paste-edit job from the old Chirashi thread.

Chirashi / Junk Mail Flyers
- All of my chirashi efforts produced 0 students (and I made a hell of a lot of effort).
Verdict = Don’t bother! It is still useful to make up a bunch of fliers yourself though that you can give to existing students to give to their friends etc.

Business Cards
After a bit of trial and error I was able to make up our own good looking, double-sided business cards using MS Paint and some purchased printable business card sheets. I made up about 50 for me and about 20 for Penelope and to be honest that was probably about 70 more cards than we needed! Being predominantly focused on children, we give out colourful flyers to parents that enquire about our school rather than our business cards (which as colourful and good looking as they are, don’t contain as much information as our flyers do).

Word of Mouth
- Word of mouth from friends/family/acquaintances has so far produced about 20 students.
Verdict = It goes without saying that in your initial stages you pump all of your contacts for all they’re worth.

Website and Blog
- Internet searches (people finding our website) have produced about 10 students.
Verdict = It’s an absolute must that is linked to just about everything else you do in regards to advertising. I regularly check my website STATS and it’s easy to see that people often check out every single page of content we have several times over before actually making an enquiry on the phone (regardless of how they found out about our school initially).

Find a Teacher Websites
- Ads in ‘Find a teacher’ sites have produced over 20 students.
Verdict = Penelope and I spent a fair bit of time ensuring that we set up a profile on all of the Japanese and English “Find a Teacher” sites. We get a heap of hits on our website and blog from the ones that show our details for free and have had several enquiries from ones where the students have to pay to get your contact details etc. including an enquiry from a woman who was initially just looking for a teacher for her two kids but which has subsequently turned into signing up 2 x 10 children classes and is likely to at least double within the next few months!

Actual Advertisements
- Our two ads in the local junk mail paper produced about 10 students.
Verdict = This is a good way to get some students in your early start-up period. Find whatever local magazine / paper gets distributed in your area and try a small ad in it and see how it goes. Both of our ads ended up easily paying for themselves.

Signage
- We’ve had a couple of people walk in off the street to enquire about lessons after seeing our signage but have had no students sign up based solely on our signage.
Verdict = I think it’s absolutely essential. A little bit goes a long way in getting knowledge of your school out in the local community. I made all of our signs by myself after a trip to the local home centre and spending some time with my printer and laminator. They probably sound atrocious but the signs I’ve made actually look good, are big and easily seen, are informative yet succinct and most importantly are easily and cheaply changeable.
(If someone has a specific interest in what I've done and how I did it I can PM them details etc.).

Uniform
I’ve included this under advertising because every time I wear one of my school shirts out and about the place I get extra hits on my website. I purchased some good polo shirts in Australia before moving over that were in our ‘school colour’ and got them embroidered here in Japan with our school name and logo. It was much harder to find someone who would embroider shirts that weren’t purchased from them but it was worth the effort because they are comfortable to work in and look great. I also got MB Prints to screen-print a bunch of short sleeve and long sleeve T-shirts with our school name, logo and website address etc. that are also very comfortable to work in and look great.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
senseiman
9 miles of bad road
9 miles of bad road
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: Japan again

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by senseiman » Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:12 am

SamhainP8 wrote:
senseiman wrote:If you are married and your wife is a teacher too, it can be a really great thing to do together. When I think back to 2002 when my wife and I would sit in restaurants for hours pooring over our plans, figuring out a curriculum, budget, etc, I have a lot of fond memories. It can be a really fun and exciting thing to do.
Really! I remember Penelope and me fighting a hell of a lot and at one stage wondering if we had made the right choice…. There was a bunch of other stresses involved also though.
LOL, yeah. Should have added the disclaimer `experiences will vary` to that. Actually now that I think about it we werent even married yet back then, just engaged, so I`m probably looking back on it with rose tinted glasses.
祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響あり。娑羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰のことわりをあらはす。おごれる人も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢のごとし。たけき者も遂にほろびぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

User avatar
sambo-
Eikaiwa Hero
Eikaiwa Hero
Posts: 587
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:53 pm

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by sambo- » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:33 pm

This is a great read Samhain, considering that I may be making the jump soon myself it’s just the kind of thing I was looking for :D .

What would you say have been the most stressful elements thus far (if any) ?

And what about getting a property sorted out? Are you renting from an office-type building? Was it hard to find a place and was it expensive to set up with key money and such?

What kind of budget would you suggest starting out with from experience? Oh, and are you in a rural or large town kind of area?

Sorry for all the questions :cheers: .
The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest, for he has not earned it

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:54 am

sambo- wrote:This is a great read Samhain, considering that I may be making the jump soon myself it’s just the kind of thing I was looking for :D .
Thanks! My entire goal was to help people such as yourself to save a few yen and possible reduce your stress levels.
sambo- wrote:What would you say have been the most stressful elements thus far (if any) ?
The most stressful part for us was the entire country going into ‘nuclear meltdown’ lockdown just before we opened for business! (as selfish as that sounds considering all the deaths and displaced people). Apart from that it was stressful in the early months when we had very few students and therefore very little income and you start second guessing everything you’ve done until the cash starts rolling in.
sambo- wrote:And what about getting a property sorted out? Are you renting from an office-type building? Was it hard to find a place and was it expensive to set up with key money and such?
One of the reasons I decided to go down the path of self-employment was because we had 3 rooms offered to us in the father in-laws house. We have two upstairs rooms: one is our bedroom and the other is our living room / office and a room downstairs: which is a 10 tatami mat room at the entrance to the house.

From what I have seen in our local area though, there are heaps of empty rental spaces that would be ideal for a small school but I’ve got no idea about prices sorry. I have heard from friends however that because there are so many vacant places about (and many of them have been vacant for years!) you can be quite aggressive when haggling with real estate agents.
sambo- wrote:What kind of budget would you suggest starting out with from experience? Oh, and are you in a rural or large town kind of area?
Our school is in a semi-rural town with a population of about 70,000 but we are also immediately surrounded by 'bed-towns'.

From a purely establishment point of view you can open for business for a couple of hundred thousand yen (of course if you have to pay for a property you could double that and more) but you also need to think about the reduced income you will get in your initial months.

I moved from Australia to Japan to start my school so my approach was a little bit different than if I was already living and working in Japan and wanted to start my own school. For yourself as you begin to move towards self-employment I recommend (if you don’t already have) you do away with the big fulltime contract and to try to get a bunch of part-time gigs at various places. That way when you open your school you will still be getting some income and can then gradually let go of these part-time gigs as your own schedule starts to fill up.

:luck:
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:57 am

LESSON PRICING ETC.

Setting your prices.
This is one of the areas where I spent a hell of a lot of time tinkering around with before we opened for business. Before doing anything myself, I trolled about to suss out what the 7 or so schools I knew to be in the same area as me charged for their various lessons to get a basic idea of what the competition was up to. In the end that information didn’t really figure into my own price setting though as most of their prices were just ridiculous in my eyes.

In the end, basically all of my prices were calculated after deciding what the absolute minimum I was willing to work for per hour was. I decided on a figure of ¥3,500. I have absolutely no plans to expand and hire another teacher but if you’re thinking along the lines of doing so you will have to obviously set your prices around a much higher figure in order for the teacher/s and yourself to get a decent cut per hour.

The ¥3,500 per hour might seem low but I hardly do any lessons at that price because once you start getting 2-10 students in each class the income per hour rate really goes through the roof!

Lesson Lengths.
To make it seem like better value for money and also to allow time between lessons, my lessons are nearly all less than 60 minutes long. I have kid’s lessons of 30 minutes, 40 minutes and 45 minutes for varying age groups and my adult lessons are mostly 50 minutes except for business lessons and TOEIC etc. which are 60 minutes. My fees for each lessons type / length were then easily and appropriately calculated from my base rate of ¥3,500 per hour.

Discounts.
I offer a variety of discounts to encourage more students to join each class (and to therefore significantly increase my per hour income rate) including discounts for family members taking the same class, a small discount for lessons taken in my classroom as opposed to me travelling somewhere for lessons, a small discount for taking more than 1 lesson per week and most significantly discounts for extra students joining each class. For example a student in a class of six pays just over 50% less per month than a man-to-man student. This really encourages people to get their friends and family to also sign up.


Maintenance Fee
Make sure you charge a maintenance fee for each student when they initially sign up. This money is used to pay for all the photocopies, envelopes and other assorted nickel and dime stuff required to keep each student’s records updated and what not. As your contracts will no doubt be for 1 year, the maintenance fee covers all of those costs for the year. It doesn’t have to be much (I only charge ¥5,000) and it’s an area where you can offer generous and seemingly attractive discounts for group lessons. For example, I usually say to students that if they can get 5 or more students to join up with them I can reduce the Maintenance Fee to ¥3,000.

Travel Fee
If you plan on doing lessons outside of your classroom (I currently do about 70% of my lessons outside of my classroom), then you need to charge a travel fee (some of the travel fees I found on other school’s websites were astounding!). As I was going to be very picky about where I was willing to do lessons and drive my car to do them, I wasn’t too greedy when calculating my travel fee and settled on a flat rate of ¥1,500 per hour. For example, if I travel 30 minutes each way to get to a student’s house for lessons 4 times a month I charge them an additional ¥6,000 per month. Of course if you have more than 1 student in the class the fee is split evenly between the students. This is another area where I can offer generous and seemingly attractive discounts for group lessons.

Receiving Payments.
Unless you’re planning on going down the road of buying lesson packages in bulk (which I don’t recommend as IMO you’ll scare off a lot of students with bulk upfront payments), you absolutely have to set it up in your contracts so that you get paid monthly in advance. If you don’t do this you’re just setting yourself up for a bunch of last minute cancellations and general pain getting fucked about. All of my students get their own envelope (printed out with our school name, logo etc., the student’s name and monthly calendar) when signing up and on it we write exactly how much the student is required to pay for that particular month. We give the students their envelope at the end of their last lesson of the month and collect them full of cash on the first lesson of the next month. We check the amount is correct and stamp it with our school hanko. These envelopes then become your official proof of income documentation for the tax department (but that’s the wife’s area so I can’t expand on that much sorry).
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
BergKatse
Hopeless Drone
Hopeless Drone
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:22 pm
Location: Galactor HQ

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by BergKatse » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:06 am

SamhainP8 wrote:I trolled about to suss out what the 7 or so schools I knew to be in the same area as me charged for their various lessons to get a basic idea of what the competition was up to. In the end that information didn’t really figure into my own price setting though as most of their prices were just ridiculous in my eyes.
Ridiculously high or low?


This is a very interesting thread.

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:17 am

BergKatse wrote:
SamhainP8 wrote:I trolled about to suss out what the 7 or so schools I knew to be in the same area as me charged for their various lessons to get a basic idea of what the competition was up to. In the end that information didn’t really figure into my own price setting though as most of their prices were just ridiculous in my eyes.
Ridiculously high or low?


This is a very interesting thread.
Ridiculously high but like I said a bit further on, those places have to pay teachers.
Even still some of them were :jaw:
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

Fenrig
Enthusiastic Newbie
Enthusiastic Newbie
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:02 pm
Location: Saitama

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by Fenrig » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:23 pm

Great posts Samhain! Also, congrats on the successful school!

I also fought tooth and nail with my wife when we started up. Nasty stuff. Success has been a great tool for justifying myself!

I'd just like to add that most start-ups I talk to worry about only one end of their profit spectrum: Their minimum pay level.

When you start up, one of the things I'd recommend is figuring out what you'll do with success. What if you build it and they do indeed come? In droves? What then?

You know what you can live with, but how much would truly make you happy?
5 million a year?
8 million?
10 million?

How many teachers could you hire in your locale? Do you want to hire any at all?

How many students do you need to have to get to this lofty goal? Can you fit that number into a reasonable number of classes? Also, expect less than a 100% fill rate, perhaps 80%?

If you find you need to teach 40 classes of 5 students (out of 6 possible) weekly to reach your goal... you may want to revise your price structure.

Also, think about how FAST you want to fill out your classes. A dirt-cheap price might get you quick fills and get you above your minimum required pay fast but will never get you to your ultimate income goal. A higher price may result in longer periods of limbo before you get some proper profits (and perhaps more arguments with the wife).

Again, congrats on your success and thanks for sharing.

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:02 pm

Some good points and questions to ask oneself there Fenrig. I’ll reply from my own point of view.
Fenrig wrote:Success has been a great tool for justifying myself!
Absolutely agree, Penelope went from being a somewhat reluctant participant in the process to incredibly supportive and enthusiastic once the phone started ringing.
Fenrig wrote:I'd just like to add that most start-ups I talk to worry about only one end of their profit spectrum: Their minimum pay level. When you start up, one of the things I'd recommend is figuring out what you'll do with success. What if you build it and they do indeed come? In droves? What then?
For us it has really been a snowball process and one that we frankly weren’t prepared for! Fortunately we got ourselves sorted without many dramas.
Fenrig wrote:You know what you can live with, but how much would truly make you happy?
5 million a year?
8 million?
10 million?
For me money has never been a motivating factor for anything I’ve set out to do. Hell if it was money I wanted, I’d go and work in high-rise construction with my brother and old man (those fuckers pay more in tax per week than I will probably ever earn!). For me becoming self-employed was more about being able to spend as much time at home with my wife and kid (soon to be kids).

I’m happy with our current schedule and am about 2.5 teaching hours a week away from being very happy (I’d like about 15 hours a week for eikaiwa). Probably not next year (because we’ll be busy with baby number two) but the year after, I would like to pursue getting about 5 extra hours of direct hire teaching a week in local kindergartens.
Fenrig wrote:How many teachers could you hire in your locale? Do you want to hire any at all?
No plans to expand beyond me being the only teacher as we only plan to live in japan for the next ten years. If our stay here was a permanent thing then I would have gone about almost everything very differently.
Fenrig wrote:How many students do you need to have to get to this lofty goal? Can you fit that number into a reasonable number of classes? Also, expect less than a 100% fill rate, perhaps 80%? If you find you need to teach 40 classes of 5 students (out of 6 possible) weekly to reach your goal... you may want to revise your price structure.
Great points! Having a realistic business plan and realistic expectations in place before doing anything is essential.

Fenrig wrote:Also, think about how FAST you want to fill out your classes. A dirt-cheap price might get you quick fills and get you above your minimum required pay fast but will never get you to your ultimate income goal. A higher price may result in longer periods of limbo before you get some proper profits (and perhaps more arguments with the wife).
Yep, a lot of number crunching is required and you’re right that when crunching the numbers you need to be thinking a long way forward. Getting a year down the track and finding yourself working your arse off with little to show for it wouldn’t be fun and neither would be trying to implement lesson fee increases for student’s first contract renewals.

Once again thanks for your input and support. :thumbsup:
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
Mogura
Porn Lord
Porn Lord
Posts: 3096
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2003 8:39 pm
Location: The Love Hotel
Contact:

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by Mogura » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:19 am

What was the nature of the resistance from your wives? Was it that they were telling you to put on a necktie and go work for a company somewhere?
Lick my troll, goosh... :bird:

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:30 am

Mogura wrote:What was the nature of the resistance from your wives? Was it that they were telling you to put on a necktie and go work for a company somewhere?
Basically yes. It was going to be FAR too much work for both of us and much easier for me to get a job at "Dave Plonkers English Emporium". We had a good rational talk about it though and I explained that I'm not in my 20s, my salary would NEVER change significantly (up!) and for me to earn decent money I'd never be home.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

sirwanksalot
Masturbateur
Masturbateur
Posts: 1751
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:40 pm

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by sirwanksalot » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:48 am

I'm reading this thread quite closely as I am just about set to do this myself. The thought of working for someone else is a real turn off. It will also be at the in-law's house. They have four yap dogs. Two of which are poodles so I've decided on the name of the school. Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace. Should sell itself.

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:07 am

sirwanksalot wrote: I've decided on the name of the school. Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace. Should sell itself.

Especially if you add the slogan "I teach like a real dick anywhere".
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
MacGyver
Shockproof shit detector
Shockproof shit detector
Posts: 4805
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2003 12:22 pm
Location: In the Stargate

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by MacGyver » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:05 pm

sirwanksalot wrote:Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace. Should sell itself.
Dammit....Knew I should've patented that name in case I was ever going to open my own school...Now what I am supposed to call it? :P
"Yous guys talk a lotta shit. I'm much more smarter than all a yous." - Samurai Jerk after being owned by the Let's Japan crew.

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:13 pm

MacGyver wrote:
sirwanksalot wrote:Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace. Should sell itself.
Dammit....Knew I should've patented that name in case I was ever going to open my own school...Now what I am supposed to call it? :P
You’ve got a lot of space at your joint Wanks……. I’m thinking multiple income streams……

“Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace, Pet Cemetery and Organic Vegetables”.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:19 pm

Here's a very basic list of what our start-up costs were prior to opening (we had all those initial costs recovered by the end of our second month).
Attachments
Untitled.png
Untitled.png (8.77 KiB) Viewed 5312 times
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:27 pm

This is the place we got to draw up our Student Contract

I highly recommend them as the wife said it was largely painless and the guy she dealt with back and forth with over 2 weeks (via email and phone calls) was very helpful (basically they’ve got an ‘Eikaiwa Contract’ template and you just have to sort out some of the finer details on what you do etc. appropriately to meet all of the legal requirements). Not to mention the price!!! :clap:

The actual guy we dealt with can be contacted at toyama@joy.email.ne.jp or on 090-7304-0444.
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

sirwanksalot
Masturbateur
Masturbateur
Posts: 1751
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:40 pm

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by sirwanksalot » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:10 pm

SamhainP8 wrote:
MacGyver wrote:
sirwanksalot wrote:Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace. Should sell itself.
Dammit....Knew I should've patented that name in case I was ever going to open my own school...Now what I am supposed to call it? :P
You’ve got a lot of space at your joint Wanks……. I’m thinking multiple income streams……

“Prissy Princess's Poodle Palace, Pet Cemetery and Organic Vegetables”.
I'm doing the 4P at the In Laws' house. My place will have the self fertilized organic Veggies and I'll be dropping a shipping container for surfboard making. I like the Pet Cemetery idea! I have space for a wiener dog...

Mac, I'm willing to franchise. You can quit your day job as this will sell itself.

User avatar
SamhainP8
Dronus japonica
Dronus japonica
Posts: 4013
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: Under a Judas Goatskin. Waiting patiently.

Re: Starting Your Own English School in Japan.

Unread post by SamhainP8 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:20 pm

sirwanksalot wrote:I like the Pet Cemetery idea! I have space for a wiener dog...
I'll be there in two hours!
"Do you know how a falcon is trained, my dear? Her eyes are sewn shut. Blinded temporarily, she suffers the whims of her God patiently, until her will is submerged and she learns to serve - as your God taught and blinded you with crosses."

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest