Childcare Management Software Jun, 18 2020 5 min read

Automatic direct debit 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 childcare fees through autopay?

And how about you? How much time are you spending processing manual 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 the 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 direct debit autopay program.

1. Make it your default payment option

When enrolling new families, make autopay the norm at your centre. If you are using online forms to collect registration and enrol 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 invoices, but by creating the understanding that autopay is preferred, you’ll get more participation. Xap offers an easy to use waitlist registration and enrolment forms which allows the parents to set up the direct debit profiles right from the enrolments.

2. Make it readily available

The guide for how to set up the direct debit on the parent portal & mobile app, or enrolment 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 pick up times, and use a locked dropbox to collect them.

Once you’ve entered the information, confirm with a follow-up email listing the important date’s parents need, like the date of the first invoice payment, what your regular “invoice dates” will be, and how you handle payment days that fall on a holiday.

3. Make it easy to understand

Communication is key, and if you aren’t making your direct debit auto-pay program easy to understand, you’ll have a hard time inspiring families to enrol.

Explaining the logistics of registering in the form of 3 simple steps:

  1. Complete this enrolment form with all of the information required
  2. Attach a voided check (you can explain that this is needed to confirm the account and bank account and BSB number)
  3. Turn everything in!

Now that you’ve made it obvious that enrolling is as easy as 1-2-3…

4. 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 tutorial on how to set up autopay authorisation form on Xap portal, and reinforce all the benefits they’ll enjoy once they’ve enrolled in the program:

  1. One less thing to remember each week
  2. Never miss an invoice payment again
  3. No more late fees – guaranteed
  4. No worries about entering the payment card information or making a phone call to the centre to make the payment.

If parents understand that they will benefit, they are more likely to buy-in.

5. Make it mandatory

Nothing makes it more obvious that autopay is your centre’s preferred method of payment than by making it the only option on your enrolment form. If this hasn’t been your standard operating procedure, consider implementing an autopay-only policy to collect invoice payments from just new families.

Some returning families may resist the idea of enrolling in autopay at first, so allow them the option to enrol or be grandfathered for one more school year. If they don’t choose to enrol and are late on a payment, offer to waive a late fee in exchange for signing up. If they are late twice, make automatic direct debit payments mandatory.

6. Make it the obvious choice

Consider a transaction or credit card surcharge fee reduction when families sign up for automatic direct debit payments. This savings, over time, can add up, but sometimes, parents need to see it in black and white. Charge admin fee for the manual payment reconciliation.

“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 petrol, 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.

7. Make it a sweet deal

What entices you to subscribe, enrol or really buy into something? Chances are, the same types of things will appeal to parents when they are considering whether or not to enrol in your automatic direct debit payments program.

What if you offered an entry into a tuition raffle or a percentage discount on their next invoice payment? What if there were no convenience fees on autopay payments? Check out Getting Started with Autopay for more ideas on ways to incentivise parents to sign up for your automatic payment program.

8. 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 invoices. 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.”

Either way, it’s a win for everyone involved.

9. 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 account information is all in one place just waiting for identity thieves to find it.

If you’re using a childcare management system like Xap which uses  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 the invoice by autopay can help you, too!

10. 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

Making the transition to autopay can pay big dividends for your bank account beyond being a mechanism for invoice payment collection.

Get parents enrolled in your automatic payments program, and start getting paid on time, every time.

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About The Author

Emily Chin - Marketing Executive Xap at Technologies Pty Ltd- With a linguistic and graphic design background, Emily has worked extensively with children. Emily focuses on bringing customer driven solutions to KidsXap’s clients.