What is Fee Planner?
In short, Fee Planner is a flexible direct debit collection system designed to collect nursery fees promptly, whilst you and your staff continue to do what you’re best at –providing quality childcare.
It delivers your nursery fees direct to your bank account, without you having to chase a penny from parents.
How does it work?
When you begin using our Direct Debit system, we explain to parents that they are setting up a payment process with Fee Planner –a company separate from the nursery. The mandates we provide make this clear and offers a customer service telephone number for parents to call with any questions. (0844 504 5504)
In order to initiate Fee Planner, you will need to distribute the Direct Debit mandates enclosed within your welcome pack, to your parents. Each bill-payer will need to complete both sides of the mandate providing their bank and address details. If someone other than the child’s parents / guardian pays the fees (such as a college, local authority or grandparent) they should fill in the appropriate section on the back page of the mandate. Once completed, you need to arrange for the parents to return mandates to you, so that you can add the Unique Reference Number contained on each mandate to your nursery management software (Abacus), and finally return the mandates to our administration office, in the envelope provided.
What else does it involve?
All you need to do is tell us how much to collect from each parent, by a specific date, each month. You advise us of this by sending us a Fee Planner collection file. This gives us time to write to the parents advising them of the amount due to be debited from their account, which is a legal requirement of the Direct Debit scheme. Your charges can vary each month, as Direct Debit can collect any amount from parents’ bank accounts, but should generally include:
• A month’s regular session fees, usually in advance
• Extra sessions since you last invoiced
• Products that have been purchased
• Any extra costs that are being added such as paying old debts etc.
We then go ahead and collect the fees as you requested, on the first working day of the month. The money then works its way through the banking system and falls into your account as cleared funds 3 days later.
Please note that you can easily create your Fee Planner collection file through the Abacus system. For more information on this please see the help file titled "How to create your Fee Planner file in Abacus".
Frequently asked questions
Q: What happens if a payment fails?
A: The purpose of Fee Planner is to assist you in collecting your nursery fees as quickly and simply as possible, with the minimum of fuss. Knowing exactly when your fees will be due, and exactly how much is due, will greatly assist you in managing your cash flow, as well as helping you to forecast future revenues. It is therefore important that Fee Planner minimises any failed collections, as, after all, this will prevent you from receiving your full funds on time. We have a system of fining parents for missing a payment, in order to try to encourage them to have sufficient funds available. Most people expect some sort of penalty for late payment; and have experience of banks and credit card Companies imposing a fine for non-payment. If a collection fails on the 1st of the month, we will immediately write to the parent on your behalf to advise them that they have incurred a £20 penalty, and that we will attempt a second collection on the 7th working day of the month. Any fees collected on the second collection will be paid into your account on the 10th working day.
Our experience tells us that very few parents fail to have sufficient funds available in time for the second collection, though inevitably it can happen. In this instance we again write to the parent(s), with a firmly worded letter. It advises the parent that the nursery is aware of the nonpayment.
Q: What happens if you collect the wrong amount from one of my parents?
A: The chances of this happening are very slim indeed. However, if the worst should happen, your parents are protected by the Direct Debit guarantee, and can request an immediate refund.
Q: What happens if I forget to send you my Fee Collection File on the 20th of the month.
A: It is very important that we receive your Fee Collection File promptly, in order to process the parent details in time to send out the advance warning notice. This must be sent at least three days in advance of the collection, which we are required to do under the Direct Debit rules. We will send you an email a few days before collection to remind you, and will endeavor to contact you should your file not be received on the 20th.
Q: How do I know that you have received my Direct Debit mandates in time for that month’s processing?
A: Once a Direct Debit has been set-up, it remains on a bank account until the bank account holder asks for it to be removed. Therefore, once we have processed any Direct Debit once, you can rest assured that we are able to process it again. It is important though that you ensure that any new mandates are received by our administration department on the 1st of the month, in order to ensure that they are processed in time for the collection on the 1st of the following month.
Q: Do I need to connect to the Internet to send you the Fee Collection File?
A: It is important that your internet connection is maintained and up-to-date, as email is the primary way in which we will communicate with you, and the way in which we need to receive your Fee Collection File.
If you are experiencing problems with your Internet connection or email account, please contact Fee Planner as soon as possible to investigate alternative solutions.