I wish we'd done it sooner!
Over the last 30 years, York Steiner School has grown from a fledgling school to one that now educates over 220 children. The school has no head teacher, meaning all staff and parents can contribute to running and developing the school in an ongoing partnership.
It's fair to say that Steiner Schools offer an educational package that's unusual in a UK context. One thing that doesn't change, however, is the need for a healthy cash flow.
When Alun Kirby took up his post as Bursar at York Steiner School, the payment system was in a bit of a state. Parents paid by cash, cheque or standing order, and in weekly, monthly or once a term instalments. Given that the school caters for around 140 families, sorting out who owed what, who was behind with their payments and who needed to be sent invoices was a time consuming and complicated process.
Add in the fact that during holiday times some parents didn't pay at all, making up the balance once term had restarted, and the situation becomes even harder to control.
Erratic payments don't just take time to manage; they also have a serious effect on cash flow. It's very hard to plan for the future if you don't know when the money is coming in.
That's why one of Mr Kirby's first jobs was to set up a Direct Debit system, with the aim of putting all payments on to a proper footing. This would not only make invoicing a much less onerous and expensive task, but also ensure a regular flow of money in to the School's coffers.
His first attempts, however, were not a success. “I went to the bank, which were less than helpful. The process was immensely complicated and the bank wasted a year of our time failing to sort it out before we finally gave up on them.”
Then an IFA recommended Eazipay. The difference in approach could not have been more obvious.
“From start to finish the setting up process took less than a working week. Compared with talking to the bank it was extraordinarily simple. All I had to do was fill in a couple of forms. I had lots of questions, which they answered promptly, and we were up and running in no time.
“And it has been equally simple working with Eazipay. They are very helpful and always quick to reply to emails. It's lovely to talk to a human being on the phone and having my own account manager means that the person I speak to really understands my business.
“Adding new details is easy and any queries are always resolved promptly.
“Best of all, the parents are happy with the new system. We originally made it voluntary but 75 per cent have signed up and it has been so good for School that from September it will be compulsory.
“My only regret is that the system wasn't in place years ago.”