Not that many years ago, every week I could expect to have tuition payments arrive late and later. It actually got so bad that I was making trips to the bank 3-4 (or more) times every week. I was so tired of it! Some parents would say they “forgot” here and there. Others would be habitually late every week. I was in my push over phase and let things go for too long. Finally, I was given a road map for how to get tuition payments on time – every week. So just in case you can relate, today I want to share this strategy with you. Buckle up, and get ready for things to take an 180-degree turn. Here are 10 things you can do this week to get paid on time next week and every week.
How to get tuition payments on time – every week
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Last updated: 03/10/17
1. Payment policy
One of the first steps to getting paid on time is to have a CLEAR Payment Policy. I actually have a Payment Policy page that is printed on a separate sheet from the contract and requires a separate signature. To be honest, it basically says just what is in my contract. I created the separate page just to call attention to this VERY IMPORTANT policy with the hopes that parents will actually read it.
Send out weekly reminders the day before the payment is due. My reminder says “JUST A REMINDER: Next week’s tuition is due Friday MORNING. Late fees in the amount of $10.00 per child will be charged for each business day that payment is made past the day it was due.” Sending a reminder like this out EVERY week eliminates the “Oh, I forgot your check.”
3. “No Pay, No Play” or “No Pay, No Stay” policy
Basically, this is requiring payment prior to services. I used to receive payments on Monday but a few years back I moved it to the Friday prior. I thought I would get some protests from parents, but nobody even blinked. This is essentially the better day because most people get paid on Friday anyway. By the way, if they do forget (which they won’t because you have already reminded them, wink wink), for sure they will need to submit payment by Monday.
4. Payment Inbox
Make a specific Payment Drop-Box where parents can simply drop off their payments. This avoids the awkward times like at drop-off and pick-up when you are most likely preoccupied. Even a cheap photo box will do here. Mine says “Payments go here”.
This is a hard one, I know (that’s why I stuck it in right here), but it’s very necessary and at the very heart of the whole payment on-time thing. Hopefully, you will only need to do this rarely, especially if you use that reminder above.
The thing is NOBODY likes paying extra fees. But if you don’t enforce this policy, believe me, parents will take advantage of your kindness. If its hard for you to verbalize this, then print out a slip or send out an email stating that late fees are due. Follow through on this one and you will see a difference.
6. Issue invoices
If you have part-time or drop-in care clients, make weekly invoices and send them out via email. It helps you stay on top of what’s due but also reminds parents as well before it gets out of control.
“Make exceptions the exception”
7. Make few exceptions
I have a saying “Make exceptions the exception” and not the rule. Again, if you let things go, your clients will too. If and when you do make an exception, remind your client that you RARELY do this and only on this specific occasion. Make it a big deal so that they don’t think it’s a small deal and ask all the time.
Make it a big deal so that they don’t think it’s a small deal and ask all the time.
8. Money in the Morning
Ask for payment in the morning. Why? Well, just in case someone “forgets” in the morning you have time to remind them to bring it at pick-up. Of course, you are just being helpful by reminding them how to avoid those pesky late fees.
9. Make it Easy
Most people use some sort of automation to pay their bills or make online purchases nowadays. There are so many services out there now. Why not look into using Square’s Cash App, PayPal, Stripe, Google Wallet, or Direct Deposit to make it easier to get that payment in on time.
UPDATE: I now use the Cash App to receive tuition and make payroll payments
Oh, by the way, if there is a fee to use this service you can always pass that along to your client as a convenience of using the service.
Consider offering a SMALL discount as an incentive to pay tuition early, say on a monthly basis. I offer a 3% discount if tuition is submitted monthly. The catch? “Parents paying child care tuition monthly, tuition is due & needs to be submitted on or before the 1st of the month to receive a discount and avoid late fees.” Yep, you guessed it. That’s the reminder I send out.
Remember, if something isn’t working, change it.
Do you get paid on-time? What have you done to make sure payments come in on-time? Leave me a comment below.