Dealing with 'problem payers' for tuition can be difficult and stressful, especially for youth sports organizations that rely on tuition fees.
It's important to note that not all problem payers are intentionally neglectful or malicious. Some may genuinely forget or underestimate the importance of timely payments, while others may face unexpected challenges that make it difficult to keep up with their obligations. However, regardless of the cause, it's crucial for those who are owed money to establish clear expectations and boundaries with problem payers to protect their financial health and stability.
Here are a few strategies to help you handle these situations and ensure that your business receives timely payments (and keeps athletes in your program).
Establish clear payment policies
The first step in dealing with problem payers is to establish clear payment policies that outline when tuition is due, acceptable payment methods, and consequences for late or missed payments. These policies should be communicated to athletes' families at the beginning of the season and regularly reiterated throughout the year. Consider having the families sign a financial requirement agreement at the beginning of the season so they understand the upcoming season fees well.
Communicate early and often
Early communication is critical to preventing payment problems from escalating. If a payment is missed, contact the family immediately to inquire about the payment status and offer support or resources to help them catch up. Regular communication, whether by phone, email, or in-person meetings, can help build a positive relationship and prevent misunderstandings. SportsEngine Motion offers multiple tools to assist you with overdue accounts, like bulk emailing and financial reporting.
Offer flexible payment plans
Offering flexible payment options can help families of athletes who have fallen under financial hardship. Offering payment plans, financial aid, or work-study programs to assist athletes are fantastic options that will help keep kids active in your program and take some stress away from the family in need.
Did you know only 53% of small businesses require AutoPay for a reoccurring fee? There is a reason why large companies require it; it works to grow your organization and keep the cash flowing in. Using SportsEngine Motion's tools to require autopay takes the time and stress out of chasing down payments. SportsEngine Motion's billing settings and communication tools to make sure every account gets set up correctly.
Enforce consequences for late or missed payments
While it's essential to be empathetic and understand athletes' financial situations, it's also important to be firm and enforce consequences for late or missed payments. This may include late fees, not allowing the athlete to practice, or even legal action if necessary. By enforcing consequences, you send a clear message that timely payment is a priority for your institution.
Keep accurate records
Keeping accurate records of payments and communication with athletes' families can help you stay organized and track the status of outstanding payments. SportsEngine Motion's Billing Manager can provide you, and your athletes' families, with an accurate picture of their Invoices and Payments with your organization. Plus, as a bonus, you can find all these tools in the mobile app.
Consider ending the business relationship
If the customer continues to be a problem, consider ending the business relationship. This should be used as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.
Overall, dealing with problem-paying customers requires patience, communication, and a willingness to find a solution that works for both parties. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your youth sports organization receives timely payments and maintain a positive relationship with the athletes and their families.