• Andrew Wong

Why Fee Collection in a Learning Center is More Complicated than You Think

There are 3 main steps to payments in a learning center once the pre-sales are done: 1. Invoicing – on-site or electronic 2. Fee collection – various methods, such as EPS/Debit, Credit Card, AliPay, WeChat Pay, Check, Bank Transfer, Direct Debit, and Cash 3. Receipt generation and distribution – hard copy or soft copy

While these steps are critical to a business, they are uninteresting, tedious for all parties, subject to human error, and are mere ‘adult problems’, in a context that should be as close to 100% about the children and their education as possible. Financial transactions are a fact of life in private education, but should ideally be a minor and momentary technicality rather than a time-consuming activity.

Most learning centers in Hong Kong collect tuition on a monthly basis. Due to the number of variables and variability in the products offered, it is nearly impossible to perfectly streamline and standardize the pricing structure.

Example: A class runs on Mondays and is billed monthly at the rate of $1,000 per month. What is the dollar value of each class? Student A: We know in advance that a student will miss the 2nd class. How do we charge? Charge in full with a make-up session? Or pro-rata? If so, how do we charge? Standardize at 4 weeks in a month? If so, what happens when there are 3 or 5 Mondays in a particular month? Student B: Will join only from the 2nd Monday.

These are questions that are easy to answer in principle, but complex when entering into a POS system in practice. Multiply this simple problem by say 15 types of classes with each running 4 times per week, with 8 students each, and it can be easily seen how complex billing can get. The example above may appear trivial, but it is not. Every variation in course valuation, in aggregate, will affect revenue and margin by a significant amount. Add to this: questions from parents, human error, late payments, inaccurate payments, multiple payment methods, and inevitable confusion from the customers, and the last-minute changes. From a business standpoint, while a learning center is in theory just like a regular retail outlet, it is not. The customer should not experience this difference, as it is purely a challenge for the learning center to overcome.

EngagePlus is completely changing this landscape for education centers and schools. Everything listed above is easily addressed with their simple UI/UX, meaning that price variation, while nearly inevitable, is easy to manage, standardize, and scale. The 3 payment steps are consolidated and handled by the technology, whereby invoicing the whole school (even with the price variations and tailored packages) is done with the click of a button. Payments are easily checked and confirmed by the administrator, and then receipts are distributed once again with the click of a button. No wasted paper, no lost invoices and receipts, no organizing locally on the Admin’s desktop, and nearly no opportunity for human error. Even in the case of human error, whether by the admin or the parent, the error is made obvious by the system, and then the admin can rectify the situation easily.

It is difficult to overstate how crucial this all is within a learning center, while it is confounding that the problem hasn’t been solved sooner.

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