For nursery heads, school and college bursars and after-school club managers, balancing the financials is a daily challenge.
A challenge that can be easily overcome thanks to Direct Debit.
Whether you’re setting up from scratch, overhauling an existing financial system or expanding your education business, the benefits of choosing Direct Debit as your payment partner are clear: flexibility, reliability, security to name just a few.
But if you’ve not been on the other side of Direct Debit before – as a merchant accepting payments, rather than a customer making them– you’re likely to have some knowledge gaps.
Here we’ll run through some of the most common Direct Debit questions about how a scheme works. The answers will broaden your understanding of how it can revolutionise the way you handle fees for ever.
Q: Why is Direct Debit so well-suited to the education sector?
A: Direct Debit is the ideal payment solution for any business, organisation or charity that accepts regular payments from customers. In your industry, it gives you – and the parents of your pupils - full control over weekly or monthly fees.
Instead of collecting these via random amounts of cash that need to be banked regularly, outdated cheques that could bounce or inflexible Standing Orders, you’ll receive the expected amount on the expected date. Less admin for you, less hassle for parents.
And the more clients you can convert to paying by Direct Debit, the more secure your cashflow becomes.
Q: Why should I choose FastPay as my Direct Debit bureau?
A: FastPay has substantial experience working with a range of businesses, including those within the education industry.
For example, Watcombe Children’s Centre Nursery in Devon has introduced paying by Direct Debit as an option for parents. Working in partnership with FastPay, they now have the security of knowing that over 30% of all fees will be paid automatically each month.
As a Bacs-approved bureau with a strong reputation within the banking industry, FastPay offers an individually-tailored secure service for every client. With an emphasis on exceptional customer service and affordable fees, the team has the expertise and flexibility to reassure you that your Direct Debits are always in order.
Q: How soon can I start accepting Direct Debits from customers?
A: Once you’ve decided to switch to Direct Debit, the process is quick and simple. FastPay for example can get you up and running within just 24 hours. Friendly experts will set the wheels in motion for you and answer any Direct Debit questions you may have.
Q: Do I need to provide a service user number (SUN)?
A: If you use FastPay’s Managed Service, a unique SUN will be allocated to you automatically. There’s no need to speak to your bank or get their approval, your bureau will set everything up for you.
For the Bureau Service, you can bring your own SUN to FastPay who will use this to process your Direct Debits.
Q: How will I know who has paid me and who hasn’t?
A: You’ll receive regular reports direct to your inbox of all the Direct Debit activity within your account. This will clearly highlight who has paid what, what invoices are outstanding and whether there have been any problems such as bounced, failed or cancelled payments. You can also log in to your own personal dashboard via FastPay’s website to get an overview of your account at any time.
Q: How soon does the money arrive in my account?
A: Direct Debit payments aren’t instant and take between 3-5 days to clear. They’re paid directly into your account. You can explore more about the exact timings here.
Q: How secure is Direct Debit?
A: This is one of the most frequently asked Direct Debit questions. Quite simply, Direct Debit is renowned for being the most secure form of payment available. Every transaction is covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee which protects users with a unique set of safeguards. Instances of fraud or error are so rare they account for just 0.2% of all transactions.
In addition, all bureaux have to go through a careful vetting process before they’re approved by Bacs. They work within the strict boundaries of the scheme and the Guarantee’s guidelines.
And when it comes to technology, your accounting system can be fully integrated with your bureau’s set-up and operate in the cloud. This gives a further layer of security to reassure both you and your clients that all data is kept safe.
Q: How will the payment appear on my clients’ bank statements?
A: FastPay offers a fully-branded service which means that your establishment’s name will appear on bank statements, rather than the unfamiliar name of your bureau. They will also brand Direct Debit Instructions for you when you sign up new clients to further personalise your scheme.
Q: Can I collect one-off payments using Direct Debit?
A: Although Direct Debit is most effective for recurring payments, it is possible to collect one-off payments as well. For instance, if you need to invoice for a specific activity or event, this amount can be collected quickly and easily provided that you’ve given advance notice.
Q: How much will a Direct Debit bureau service cost?
A: Fees vary depending on the bureau you choose, the service you use and the amount of collections you make. As a guide, FastPay offers a transparent and competitive pricing structure with prices per Direct Debit processed starting at just 3p for the Bureau Service and from 10p for its Managed Service customers.
Q: What are the benefits of switching to Direct Debit?
A: For your education business, you’ll enjoy guaranteed cashflow, reduced admin tasks, improved customer satisfaction and streamlined accounting.