Clavier Companion - July/August 2017 - 58
Making money, making space
How to get paid on time
by Wendy Stevens
f you have successfully moved from
a per-lesson payment system to a
tuition-based structure,1 you may still be
left with the challenge of parents paying on
time. There are many ways to tackle this issue,
so choose what works best for your business.
Prepay in full
The most effective means of ensuring that payments
come to you on time is prepayment. How your tuition
is structured determines when these payments will be
due, but it must be acknowledged that prepayment is
difficult and sometimes impossible for many parents
because of their budgets.
It is appropriate but not necessary to give parents
who are prepaying in full a discount on their
tuition. This helps motivate parents to make this
commitment, and offers them a reward for doing
so. Even something as small as a 2-3% discount is
appreciated, though a larger percentage like 5-10%
is even more motivating.
Misinformation about post-dated checks is rampant in
the piano teaching community. While it is not illegal
per se to write or collect a post-dated check, there are
several factors to consider when dealing with postdated checks, and most consumers are advised not
to do it.2
It is a liability for any piano parent to give you a
post-dated check. They trust that you will not cash
their check early and risk being overdrawn. Banks
can cash any check (post-dated or not) at any time,
so a claim can never be made against the bank.
However, you could theoretically be liable if you cash
their check early.
While the solution might seem to be cautious not to
cash the checks early, it is never advisable to ask parents
to do something that is financially risky for them. Their
financial and legal advisors would most likely advise
them never to write post-dated checks, so it is rather
unprofessional to ask them to pay in this way.
Scheduled monthly online bill pay
Besides prepaying in full, automatic bill pay is the
best and most reliable way to get paid on time.
Once parents set this up, they never again have
to think about paying on time, which is a benefit
they'll appreciate. Parents can add you and your
address to their payees in their online banking.
Then, they can schedule you to be paid the same
amount every month for a set number of months.3
Extra expenses like books, one-time fees, or other
incidentals can also be made via the same online
banking bill pay, but will be a one-time instead of
The importance of selling parents on this idea
cannot be underestimated. It will certainly save
parents time and money (because there will not
be late fees), but it will also save you time and
energy in chasing payments, reminders, and more.
Therefore, it is worth the time investment that it
will take to convince parents to pay you in this
way. Selling the idea of automatic bill pay should
be done well in advance of the first payment due.
For ideas, visit https://composecreate.com/getpaid-on-time-for-piano-lessons.
Of course, some parents do not use online
banking and bill pay, so in your policy, you might
want to allow for another form of payment. Here
is sample wording you can use:
Payments should be made by online
bill pay scheduled to arrive by the ____
of every month. Payment can also be
made by check or cash, but if check,
cash, or bank payments are late, there
is a $25 late fee. When an account
becomes more than thirty days past
due, it will be considered in default
and lessons will have to discontinue.
Scheduled online bill payments through
your bank are therefore the most
reliable way to ensure that lessons are
never discontinued for your child.
Online payment options (automatic
A few online payment processing systems offer
automatic monthly invoicing. Fees are assessed
when the invoice is paid (such as the 2.9% +
$.50 transaction fee charged by PayPal), but the