It’s the first week of the month, and you just spent hours upon hours creating, printing and sending weekly invoices to parents. Instead of focusing on the next month’s activities for your child care program, you are recording payments, and chasing down parents who are late on their tuition. The child care billing process has become tedious , and is taking too much time away from the important parts of your child care program.
This situation is too common in child care centers. While we can’t make the billing process vanish, a few small changes can make make a vast difference. Here are 5 simple ways you can simplify the child care billing process:
1. Collect Online Payments
Collecting payments on time is an enormous challenge for many child care centers. We can’t control late paying parents, but we can make it as easy as possible for parents to pay. In the digital age, parents are doing almost everything online from holiday shopping to ordering dinner. Almost every parent carries a credit card, but cash and checks are frequently left at home.
Give parents the option to pay online with a credit card or set up automatic withdrawal for tuition with their bank account. This makes it much easier for busy parents to pay, and, most importantly, child care owners to collect.
Not sure how to start offering online payments to your parents? Try using a child care billing software. This will not only help parents easily pay online, but make it easy for you to send and update invoices for parents.
2. Be Consistent
It’s easy to let a late pick up slide, or cut a parent some slack when their tuition is late. While we may think we are helping, in actuality we are just hurting ourselves. Most parents may mean well, but if you let a late fee or payment slide, it is much more likely to happen again. By staying consistent you are simply enforcing the rules, and letting parents know it’s not personnel.
However, we know staying consistent can be much easier said than done. Try using Kinderlime’s Late Fee Notice to help hold parent’s (and yourself) accountable. By giving parents an advance notice of the late fees they have accrued, you avoid surprises and angry parents in the future.
3. Make it Simple
At Kinderlime, we hear all kinds of child care billing methods, and have quickly learned what works, and what does not. While there are many different ways of billing, the most effective forms all have one thing in common: they are often simple.
To make the child care billing process as easy as possible, maintain a consistent billing schedule, and avoid intricate rates and discounts. The simpler you make it, the easier it is when invoicing time comes around. Using these tips will help you keep the child care billing process simple and effective:
Minimize the amount of Invoices Sent to Parents
While it may be nice to receive weekly payments, the time it takes to create, send, and receive a weekly invoice can simply take too much time. By sending parents an invoice once or twice a month, you are simplifying the billing process for you and your parents.
Create basic hourly rates
Charging hourly is a great choice for many after school programs. You are directly being paid for the exact amount of time a child spent in your center. However, hourly billing can make child care billing tedious when programs charge different rates depending on the amount of time the child has attended that day.
Try and stick to a one time hourly rate, as adding too many variables not only makes billing harder on you, but is confusing for the parents. A straightforward billing process will decrease the billing disputes from parents, and give you more time to focus on other aspects of your child care program.
4. Give parents a reminder
While we hope parents get in the habit of paying tuition on time, the truth is, we could all use a reminder once in a while. Sometimes a simple reminder is all parents need to remember to grab their checkbook or pay online. Here are a few creative and effective ways to help parents pay their tuition on time:
Send an e-mail blast
Sending an e-mail blast is easy and effective. Create or use our tuition reminder template, so you can quickly create and send out your tuition reminder.
For those tech savvy parents, you could also try a text blast. After messaging your parents it will be harder for them to forget than remember.
Post a tuition reminder sign
For the parents who do not use text or e-mail, a sign is a great way to catch the attention of parents. Be sure to put a sign in a location where parents will see it, such as near the sign in-out location, or on the front door.
Create a photo message
While emails and signs work fine, getting a little creative will produce a reminder that parents will never forget. Work with your staff and kids to create a photo message blast. Take photos using the Kinderlime Daily Sheets app and make child care billing a little more fun.
5. Go Paperless
Child care billing invoices, receipts, and late fee notices are not just wasting huge amounts of paper, but take time to create, print and distribute. Thankfully, going paperless expedites the tedious billing process.
File cabinets, manual tracking, and human error mistakes become a thing of the past. An online child care billing software can do everything from calculating, creating and sending invoices, to recording and maintaining family account history. Getting online, and moving your billing process to a child care management software can make the world of a difference.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can save time, and expedite your billing process, head over to Kinderlime and request a demo.