In the online tutoring world, it’s an unfortunate reality that getting paid can be a challenge. Because of the nature of the business (the tutor works with the student, but more often than not it’s the parent making payments), there can be room for confusion, and letting late payments slide can quickly become a habit that hurts your bottom line. In our discussion with tutors, 75% say that they’ve been a victim of late payments — or of not getting paid at all.
The good news is that there are a few easy and actionable steps tutors can take to protect yourself, whether from clients who just get busy and forget or who try to stiff you on purpose. This is applicable whether your students are international or local. Although having international students does pose few additional challenges we will look at. We will look at a few best practices, options for payment and how ClassFolios can help you with the payment process.
Establishing clear ground rules at the beginning of any your tutoring engagement is key. Let your clients know the policies upfront (along with the consequences of not following them) to set expectations and give you an extra level of protection if clients don’t uphold their end of the deal. At ClassFolios we have templated tutoring policies which have languages for payment and this makes it easy for tutors to customize and send the policies upfront to parents and set expectations.
Take cash out of the equation and your payment system becomes leaps and bounds more easy. Accepting credit cards from clients lets you keep a method of payment on file that you know is authorized and valid, whether students pay session-by-session or purchase prepaid packages. There are many options in the market to accept credit card payments and the top two being Stripe and Paypal. Both platforms are user friendly, offer great features and identical in pricing (Each has a 2.9% fee on every transaction). Ultimately, which payment gateway you choose depends on your needs and the demography of your clients. In addition to credit card payments there are also options to get paid using ACH which turns out to be much cheaper than Stripe or Paypal. The only major challenge is ACH can fail to complete the payment when there is insufficient funds and also create the hassle of overdraft for your clients. Online tutoring blurs the geographical boundaries and facilitates the idea of looking at international markets. When there are no geographical constraints the accessibility should also be facilitated without complications. Getting paid online through credit card allows you to collect payments internationally. We at ClassFolios built the system to have seamless integration for both Stripe and Paypal and allow tutors to collect payments even internationally.
Formal invoices are key to good book-keeping. They enable you to track what payments have been made and the ones which are late. They are a professional and official reminder to clients that money is due. It can also serve as a place to reiterate your policies. ClassFolios has professional looking invoices out of the box with your logo. This is generated automatically every time it is due taking all the spreadsheet and manual ways of logging sessions and sending invoices.
Similar to invoices, payment reminders are a good way to keep clients on track without having to have an awkward conversation about overdue tutoring bills. You can send payment reminders at defined periods, when an invoice is close to being due, or afterward if a payment has been missed. The aging of an invoice is a key metric reflecting on your control over the business. Being a tutor and running a business as other businesses are with metrics and controls are what makes you successful in the long run. Again, these communications are a good place to reiterate your policies — does a fee apply for late payments? Will future sessions be cancelled until payment is made? Make it clear, and stick to your own policy. The reminder mails are generated periodically in the case of ClassFolios without any manual intervention. The dashboard within ClassFolios helps you keep track of key numbers and aging of your invoices to have a better handle of late payments. As an online tutor having your means of payment facilitated by a reliable platform it takes away an important part of streamlining your business. When your payments are kept on track it adds to your top line and you can look at ascending the ladder as an online tutor in the competitive market.
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