While it’s inevitable that some parent accounts will fall into arrears, there are a number of ways that you can reduce this or make the handling of arrears as simple as possible for both parties. Flexibility and communication are key problem-solving tools in any financial discussion.
Here are our five top tips for reducing school fee arrears and helping to manage parent payment, while also providing a fee payment experience that is both efficient and conscientious.
- A personal approach
- Self-service solutions
- iSAMS Payments: a seamless payment solution
One of the best ways to resolve any kind of dispute or difficulty is to improve communication between parties. Mistakes are made when those involved don’t have access to all the information or cannot openly discuss issues with each other. In fact, research suggests that poor communication is to blame for around 70% of errors in the corporate space.
Ensure that your parents are notified of any upcoming bills or payments with plenty of notice and with all the details that they require. There are a number of ways to keep parents up to date on their upcoming payments in the digital world. iSAMS offers SMS, email, portals, and apps as flexible ways to stay in touch with the wider school community.
Different parents may prefer different modes of communication, so it’s important to try and cater for the majority. The key is to manage expectations, rather than communicate information after payments have fallen behind. Ultimately, your student’s parents would rather not miss fee payments if it can be avoided.
Similarly, you need to communicate your fee payment expectations during the application and admissions process. If parents are aware of all the financial implications involved from the beginning of their child’s journey with your school, they are far less likely to have questions or encounter issues further down the line. Make sure the fee totals, payment dates, and payment process is as clear as possible in admissions packages and communications.
You need to make paying school fees as simple and frictionless as possible. The more challenging it is to make a payment, the more likely school fee accounts will fall behind – resulting in even more work for your finance team.
It’s important to be as flexible as possible in your approach to parent payment. Offer a variety of payment options to ensure that your parents can choose the approach that best suits them.
It’s easy to assume that a direct debit is the most convenient option for all fee payers. Each student is different, and it’s not always going to be parents making payments for a student’s school fees. Your school needs to be aware of and cater to this possibility.
You might be required to manage payments from parents, extended family members, businesses, or sponsors – all for one student’s account. Direct debits may seem like the best option for ensuring that fees are collected at the same time each month, but it’s not the most flexible approach.
Consider a payment solution that extends beyond the primary payers bank account. iSAMS Payments integrates seamlessly with your parent and admissions portals, and your finance solution, to provide your school community with new ways to pay. Those paying fees can now use credit and debit cards, PayPal or Bank Pay to keep on top of their student’s school fees, ensuring that there are as many ways to pay as possible.
Our comprehensive system also offers split billing functionality. This enables you to process multiple payments from a variety of sources, all for one student. We know not every child’s family structure is the same, and we are keen to enable your school to be as flexible as possible, whether you’re processing payments from parents, other caregivers and family members, or external companies and sponsorships.
A personal approach
Even with the best communication around fees and being as flexible as possible, there will always be missed payments or fee payers that are facing challenges and fall behind. The way in which your school handles these situations can make or break the payment experience and the ability to reduce arrears.
Each issue will require a personal response. Avoid offering a blanket approach to collecting arrears, as each situation and individual will be different. There can be a variety of reasons why an account may fall behind.
Take the time to contact the individual. It’s possible that they hadn’t necessarily realised they were behind and can make payment quickly, or they may need further assistance.
Can you offer payment plans for those that are facing financial difficulties in the current economic environment? Perhaps smaller but more frequent installments might work for some students, and vice versa, for example. It’s important to provide tailored assistance and advice on a case-by-case basis to ensure the best experience for your fee payers.
As mentioned, it’s more likely that school fee payers are either unaware that they have fallen behind or certainly did not intend to put their account into arrears. Your finance team can have a significant impact on the fee collection and arrear reduction process.
First and foremost, account owners, whether parents or otherwise, need to be aware that they have missed a fee payment. Your team needs to be working efficiently to identify missed payments and notify parents of the problem. Your software can help with this, but your team may need to follow up more directly.
This is why it’s so important that your team manage their time effectively and are being proactive in collecting fee payment. While your software can help, it shouldn’t be entirely relied on when handling issues like arrears.
Identify gaps in accounts quickly and be just as speedy in communicating the issue with fee payers. Your software helps to monitor cashflow in real time, so use that information to bolster your invoice communications. The more efficiently your team performs, the more time can be spent working with parents.
Flexibility is key to prompt payment, as discussed. Outside of providing a variety of payment methods, you can also look to provide ways for fee payers to initiate and manage the payment process autonomously.
Make it easy to make payments anytime by integrating a flexible and cashless payment solution into your portals, reducing friction in the payment process for both your finance teams and your fee payers.
This means that payments can be made as soon as the payers have the funds available, rather than waiting for and relying on direct debits. They will also be able to view their previous or upcoming invoices for full transparency.
The iSAMS Payments solution integrates seamlessly with both the parent portal and admissions portal, enabling you to provide a simple, intuitive means of payment for your parents and applicants. Free up your finance team, enabling them to focus on key tasks, while also reducing friction for parents.
iSAMS Payments: a seamless payment solution
iSAMS Payments encourages faster fee payment and provides dynamic insights into all areas of incoming payments for your school. The cashless solution supports multiple bank accounts and provides a dedicated reporting suite that enables you to track payment performance.
Equip your finance team with the tools they need to reduce arrears and protect budgets, while reducing the time spent chasing payments.
iSAMS Payments features built-in accounting codes, supports split billing and varied, multi-transactional payments, which you can direct to multiple dedicated school bank accounts. Integrate with your existing portals and provide total flexibility for your parents. Ultimately, with a simpler and more intuitive payment process, accounts are less likely to fall into arrears.
To learn more about our finance solutions and how to integrate them into your existing suite of software, watch a demo here: