So you have started your childcare and your enrollment is growing. Great! Everything is perfect right? Well, yes and no. For many providers believe it or not filling your open enrollment spots is only half the battle. Now you need those spots to be paying tuition. Wait a minute! Of course they are paying tuition. They enrolled didn’t they? Yes they did. The only problem is many parents do not take the commitment for paying tuition as seriously as they should. This leaves many providers chasing parents every week to get paid. Sound familiar? Well, today I am going to give you 3 Easy strategies to get tuition on time – EVERY WEEK!
3 Easy Strategies to Get Tuition on Time!
When I started my childcare years ago, I never would have imagined how parents would take advantage of me. They took liberties with my policies, drop-off and pickup times but above all – paying tuition. Either tuition was habitually late or I had to just about beg to get paid. It seemed that parents would pay me last. I remember one parent actually telling me about how she “had to make her layaway payment on-time” and even that was before me. REALLY!
One day I had enough!
One day I had enough! Enough of the excuses, the 4-5 weekly trips to the bank and the begging. I decided to come up with a specific strategy to get those tuition payments in on time – EVERY WEEK! And you know what? It worked!
So today, I want to give you 3 key strategies to get tuition on time, not just this week but – EVERY WEEK!
I have written before about how your Contract is your first line of defense. The contract is what your client relationship is built on. It is even more important than a Parent Handbook or your Policies. This signed document is the core to your backbone. Make sure you indicate how and when tuition payments are expected to be submitted. And (very important) what will happen if it is not received, like late fees.
I currently require next week’s tuition payments be submitted on Friday mornings. Why Friday mornings? Well it’s simple. If parents do not submit payment on Friday morning, I have time to shoot them a little email or text reminding them to be sure to bring tuition at pickup to avoid any late fees.
Years ago, I felt that parents knew when payment was due. I mean after all, how can you forget something that happens every week? While that might be a reasonable assumption, the fact is parents do have a lot on their mind. Picking up their kids, getting them home to fix dinner and deal with whatever comes in between their little one falling off to dreamland.
Parents don’t read contracts
The other thing is maybe they don’t know when and how to make tuition payments. Follow me on this one. The fact is most parents don’t read contracts, handbooks or policies, at least not entirely. SHOCKING! I know! But true. And even if they do read them, most likely they don’t remember them.
So once I figured out that parents were somewhat clueless as to how to get tuition on time, I thought I would help them (and me) out. Just about every week, I set up an autoresponder email to send out on Thursday evening to not forget tuition is due tomorrow. And yes, this is a little more work for me. But I would rather do a little more work than chase payments over the weekend. Plus, if you schedule multiple emails at a time, you only have to do this once a month.
3. Payment methods
Years ago, I thought that if I incentivized tuition I would most likely receive payments more timely. So I began offering a small discount for tuition submitted on a monthly basis as opposed to weekly payments. Even though the discount was small I explained that over time the savings was worth it. IT WORKED! Quite a few families opted to submit monthly payments which saved them money and me time with less bank trips.
Over the past few years I have noticed a trend. Many of my clients asked if I took credit card or automatic bank payments. The great thing about it is in the last few years quite a few check alternative payment methods have sprung up. Paypal of course has been around for quite awhile, but apps like the CASH app, Google Wallet and Paysimple are other easy ways to accept payments.
Last year I started using the CASH app for payroll and soon after I offered it to clients. It really helps when a client is not in attendance on a random Friday or if they “ran out of checks”.
Now don’t get me wrong, there will probably always be the one client who “forgets” or runs out of checks here and there. But for the most part I can now say that approximately 98% of tuition payments are now submitted on-time.