Flexible Billing

 Sam Jenkins
CRM SaaS Small Business Tutoring

At TutorCruncher, we offer a specialised business management system for tutoring companies around the world. The fact that we work with a global clients is testament to the flexibility of the service we provide, so that you can use our system to great effect in the United States, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Europe, and more. Next up is Mars, then one day, we’ll be available across the Solar System…

TutorCruncher: a solution with interplanetary availability (coming soon) — credit NASA

One of the most important aspects of the flexibility of TutorCruncher is in the way you can charge your clients. We have designed, and continue to strive towards, an extremely effective means by which companies can make the system work to their needs. After all, making it as easy and effective as possible to process payments from your clients is logical: time is money and cash flow is king, after all! We thought we would highlight some of the different general approaches you can take, as well as how this can all be effectively blended in TutorCruncher.

Invoicing in arrears

The majority of the UK companies with which we work will tend to invoice after the lessons have taken place. We work with users that will do so once a month, every 2 weeks, or even once a week. Invoicing this way means that you can invoice all of your clients regularly with minimal complications, especially if you have set up a simple billing method that allows you to automatically take payment. Invoices are able to be reviewed and amended before they are sent out to clients to ensure that any accounting issues are minimised.

This is one of the simplest (and most effective at a large scale) ways to invoice via TutorCruncher. Simply go into Accounting > Draft Invoices and specify that date range for which you wish to generate your invoices, for example, the month of November. TutorCruncher will search your chosen date range for any completed and uninvoiced lessons and compile these on a client by client basis. That way, your client with two students will get one invoice for all of the lessons. Using the integrated card payment and direct debit gateways, you can store the client’s billing information on file and automatically charge them whenever you invoice. That way, your administrator is notified about all the successful payments that go through however frequently you might send your invoices. It really is that easy!

Charging upfront

One of the main ways that our Australian users will use TutorCruncher is for charging users ahead of time. This is also fairly common as a primary billing method for our US users! The main positive aspect of this is to get a user embedded in the services you offer at the earliest available opportunity. The same logic applies to booking a train: I pay for my tickets before I have had the service I pay for as I am effectively paying for the availability of that service (and a nice window seat!). As I am also more likely to not cancel given I have already paid, so why would tutoring be any different? Both companies will invest in planning the service in advance and would be put in an unideal situation in the event of a no-show, so charging upfront is sensible for all parties.

Send out a detailed breakdown of what your clients are being charged for

TutorCruncher allows you to process these upfront payments using Credit Requests. The point of a credit request, or a Pro Forma Invoice in accounting terms, is to add positive balance to a client’s account. I can create a simple one-item Credit Request, or use the planned lessons on a job to send one out to a client. This is often used by our American users who will plan something to the effect of a 10 hour test prep package. You can use the same streamlined billing methods to automatically charge a card or direct debit on file, making it simple and effective to get these upfront payments in the system.

Track who is all paid up by regular reconciling your invoices

Then, you can reconcile these payments in your system. At the end of a billing period (this could be monthly, though our Australian users will do so at the end of the semester) you can generate Invoices which will take any credit into account on a client profile. The client will receive what is effectively a receipt of all of the lessons which they have had which have been paid from their balance if they are all paid up. Anybody who has had more lessons than they prepaid for will have an outstanding amount to settle on their invoice, meaning you can always ensure your client’s accounts are settled.

Process payments instantly

Sometimes, you will just want to bill a user without any hassle. Perhaps your company processes a registration fee/a tutor finders fee, or maybe you like to take a prepayment on the client’s first lesson at the earliest possible stage. With ease of use in mind, we went about designing and implementing Quick Payments, taking the billing process and turbocharging it!

Create an invoice and take a payment in seconds

Our new Quick Payments feature allows you to bill a client’s card on file in a matter of seconds. You can have TutorCruncher create an invoice/credit request to send them as a receipt and bill a card on file, or use a different card. Either way, this takes the hassle out of getting your prepayments in for a number of different services your company might charge for.

Recurring billing

A great number of our clients provide 1-to-1 services, be it tutoring, coaching, mentoring etc. However, we also work with lots of users who run group classes at a physical premises. These tutoring centres will often bill their users a monthly membership which entitles them to attend a certain number of lessons on a month to month basis. Different users might be on different membership plans, be it on a Gold, Silver, or Bronze tier system perhaps, so being able to invoice everybody a repeating (but varied) monthly rate is essential. Additionally, some 1-to-1 companies might have some clients on retainer who will just pay a repeating rate once a month.

Keep your billing cycles hassle free and automated

To that end, we let you use Subscriptions to address these billing models. All you need to do to set up a Subscription is name it (e.g. Monthly Membership), specify how much it will be per month, select the day of the month you want to create the charges, and specify a category for these subscriptions to feed into your Analytics. Then, you just need to add the relevant clients to the subscription — you can even give them a custom rate if you want to. Once the day of the month you have selected arrives, the subscription will generate a series of invoiceable charges for you to send out when you next draft your invoices, billing the payment details on file. The same will happen next month, meaning you don’t have to spend all your time creating individual charges and can just generate and send the ones the subscription creates.

Why not use all of the above?

Having identified some specific types of billing processes, it is worth stressing that companies and users of TutorCruncher will very rarely employ exclusively one of these methods. The consistent feature is that every one of these you can have automatically billed to payment details on file.

It all comes down to being flexible with your clients, however, it has to be sensible for you as a company too. That is where TutorCruncher steps in with all of the above processes, allowing you to be flexible without bending over backwards. It is therefore easy to use these in a combination of ways:

  • Take a deposit and put this towards the first invoice in arrears (good for protecting tutors)

  • Predominantly bill upfront and offer a separate pay as you go tutoring service at a higher rate

  • Take payments over the phone as part of a signup

  • Have all clients pay a monthly base membership or have some VIP clients pay you on retainer

These are all effective options you have to manage your company’s sales effectively so that you can focus on growing the business, not chasing up payments. Get in touch with us today to find out how you can start growing your tutoring business.

We build business management software for tutoring companies. Whether you are a small team or an established company, we can help you give your clients a 5-star service while spending less time on administration.