Automatic payments make sense. Autopay is easy. It’s fast. It’s one less thing to think about in an already packed week. So why do parents take so much convincing when it comes to paying tuition through autopay?
And how about you? How much time are you spending processing tuition payments, double checking aging receivables, sending late fee warnings, and adding and removing late fees? Imagine what you could do if all that time turned into free time you could spend doing something you like, like developing your program.
Let’s look at ten ways to get parents on board with your autopay program.
Make it your default payment option
When enrolling new families, make autopay the norm at your center. If you are using online forms to collect registration and enroll new children, make your preferred method of payment by having your form default to that option.
You can still be flexible for families that need an alternative payment method for tuition, but by creating the understanding that autopay is preferred, you’ll get more participation.
Make it readily available
The link to your autopay authorization or enrollment form should be on every invoice and every email or letter you send. Not using electronic forms? Keep a stack for parents to grab during busy drop off and pickup times, and use a locked dropbox to collect them.
Once you’ve entered the information, confirm with a follow up email listing the important dates parents need, like the date of the first tuition payment, what your regular “run dates” will be, and how you handle payment days that fall on a holiday.
Make it easy to understand
Communication is key, and if you aren’t making your autopay program easy to understand, you’ll have a hard time inspiring families to enroll.
Explaining the logistics of registering in the form of 3 simple steps:
- Complete this enrollment form with all of the information required
- Attach a voided check (you can explain that this is needed to confirm the account and bank routing number)
- Turn everything in!
Now that you’ve made it obvious that enrolling is as easy as 1-2-3…
Make it live on your website
Your website is a great tool for advertising your childcare, preschool or aftercare program, but it is also a great way to advertise all the benefits of autopay to the parents of children already in your care.
Include a link to your autopay authorization form on your organization’s website, and reinforce all the benefits they’ll enjoy once they’ve enrolled in the program:
- One less thing to remember each week
- Never miss a tuition payment again
- No more late fees – guaranteed
- No worries about updating payment card information
- Lower-cost or no-cost transactions via ACH
If parents understand that they will benefit, they are more likely to buy in.
Make it mandatory
Nothing makes it more obvious that autopay is your center’s preferred method of payment than by making it the only option on your enrollment form. If this hasn’t been your standard operating procedure, consider implementing an autopay-only policy to collect tuition payments from just new families.
Some returning families may resist the idea of enrolling in autopay at first, so allow them option to enroll or be grandfathered for one more school year. If they don’t choose to enroll and are late on a payment, offer to waive a late fee in exchange for signing up. If they are late twice, make automatic tuition payments mandatory.
Make it the obvious choice
Consider a transaction or convenience fee reduction when families sign up for automatic tuition payments. This savings, over time, can add up, but sometimes, parents need to see it in black and white. increase for credit card related payments.
“Nudge” parents by showing them how much they’ll save each week, and what the grand total will be in a month or even at the end of the year. Then, remind them of ways they can use that money – a week’s worth of groceries, a tank of gas, a nice meal that isn’t handed to them through a drive-thru window…
Showing them what they might miss by not enrolling may give them the inspiration they need to sign up.
Make it a sweet deal
What entices you to subscribe, enroll or really buy into something? Chances are, the same types of things will appeal to parents when they are considering whether or not to enroll in your automatic tuition payments program.
What if you offered an entry into a tuition raffle, or a percentage discount on their next tuition payment? What if there were no convenience fees on autopay payments? Check out Getting Started with Autopay for more ideas on ways to incentivize parents to sign up for your automatic payment program.
Make it part of every payment conversation
Every time you interact with a parent to process a paper payment or a credit card, let that parent know how much easier, more convenient, and more affordable it is to use autopay to pay tuition. Train your staff on the talking points, and encourage them to make this conversation a habit as well.
“I’m going to give you some information on autopay; it can really take a lot off of your plate.”
you charge convenience fees to offset the cost of electronic tuition payments by charging parents for them, it’s less expensive for them to use ACH for autopay than it is to pay by credit card each week. If you don’t use convenience fees, it’s less expensive for your center to set up and maintain an autopay program with a healthy portion consisting of ACH payments.
Either way, it’s a win for everyone involved.
Make it about security
Paper checks with personal information can get lost or even discarded by accident, and that means bank account numbers, personal addresses and bank routing information is all in one place just waiting for identity thieves to find it.
If you’re using a childcare management system like EZCare that has a PCI-compliant payment processing suite, saved payment account information is stored in a secure vault, so personal and financial data stays protected.
Those after work trips to the bank with bundles of cash? That’s a risk for you, and it can add a lot of stress to your end-of-day routine. Getting parents signed up to pay tuition by autopay can help you, too!
Make it “earth-while”
Getting parents to switch from paying by cash or check – or paying a one-time payment and needing a paper receipt on the spot – can help you take a step toward environmental responsibility and appeal to their desire to leave their children with a better, cleaner planet.
Moving to strictly electronic payments and receipts through autopay can provide some boosts beyond saving trees:
- Reduce greenhouse gases
- Create less wastewater in the paper production process
- Save million of gallons of gas delivering mail
Making the transition to autopay can pay big dividends for your bank account beyond being a mechanism for tuition payment collection. Check out 8 Great Benefits of Paperless Tuition Billing to learn more.
Get parents enrolled in your automatic payments program, and start getting paid on time, every time.