Ask the Experts: Getting People to Pay on Time

I can’t get anyone to pay on time. Our policy states that tuition is due on the 1st and considered late after the 10th, with a $10 late fee. If it’s still unpaid, kids are pulled out of classes. I send out reminder e-mails and mass texts and even staple invoices to newsletters. Any suggestions?

Sending so many reminders is an unnecessary drain on your time. There are automatic options to bill your customers that will make this part of running the business so much easier for you. If you aren’t already using a studio management software program, now is the time to implement one. You can easily and safely process credit cards and e-check (ACH) transactions with programs like Jackrabbit Dance, which links to your merchant account. With a push of a button, you can collect tuition and have funds deposited on the day of your choosing. The small percentage fees incurred from credit card processing are a worthwhile business expense. And parents will appreciate the convenience of auto payment and the flexibility of paying by credit, debit or ACH.

If you aren’t ready to make auto-billing required, we recommend you request a backup payment method to keep on file. With that policy, if a family hasn’t paid by the 10th, you can send an e-mail restating your terms: If they haven’t paid by cash, check or credit card by the 20th (giving them a small grace period), you will process their tuition with the card on file.

Bear in mind that converting to auto-billing as your standard operating procedure will require you to inform customers. Be confident in your decision to make collecting tuition easy for everyone. Moving forward, use your newsletters and notices for communicating fun and exciting studio happenings.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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