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Case Study: German International School of Silicon Valley

September 13, 2011

Rightrail_GermanSchool In the field of private education, a smooth and streamlined receivables process isn’t something to take for granted. Schools depend on tuition payments for operating funds, and parents need the peace of mind that their money is safely going to the right place. Bill.com has made a big impact in one private school’s accounting department, demonstrating how technology and customer service can work together to transform how the process is done.

The academically challenging German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV) provides an accredited German and American K-12 education to multicultural and bilingual families in the San Francisco Bay Area. GISSV is part of a network of 146 German schools worldwide and serves nearly 400 students at its three campuses. With one central administration office supporting all three locations, they rely on Bill.com to help them take control of their heavy load of tuition and donation receivables.

Before working with Bill.com, GISSV’s receivables process was managed in a more traditional, paper based way and created a great deal of frustration for everyone involved, from school staff to parents. “A student would hand their tuition check to their teacher, who would in turn pass the check to someone in the office—and the tuition check would eventually make its way to the main campus and into the financial office. The path for tuition payment had too many hands in it,” explains Martha Branch, the school’s accountant. “Passing along an envelope full of paper checks wasn’t efficient or very secure.”

Other parents opted to have their banks automatically issue scheduled tuition payments to directly to GISSV. However, due to a glitch in the banks system, a number of parents received payment confirmations while the school never received the tuition. This created a customer service crisis for the school and for the parents, who had to re-issue payments, this is when Branch knew it was time to find a better way to manage tuition receivables. “We had been using Bill.com’s payables solution for a while. It worked well for us and the employees were happy, so Bill.com’s receivables solution was a natural next step and fit.”

Branch found it easy to integrate with their existing QuickBooks system. Plus, getting her customers up to speed was simple. “I’ve educated 300 parents on how to use Bill.com,” boasts Branch, who claims the Bill.com adoption rate among parents is phenomenal. “After they register and input their bank information into their Bill.com portal, they can either initiate an electronic payment from an e-mailed invoice or set up autopay so Bill.com can withdraw tuition automatically.”

With access to more information about their tuition bills and electronic payments, parents don’t need to worry about where their money is. “They can see the payment when it’s released out of their account and when school has received it. Bill.com has helped cut down the number of ‘did you receive my payment?’ emails and phone calls from parents,” says Branch.

Beyond helping the school collect payments and making the process more comfortable for parents, “the time savings are significant. Bill.com has saved us from the manual entry of checks into the system, applying them to an invoice, and taking them down to the bank,” Branch says.

What’s more, Branch believes that Bill.com will help GISSV as they expand, suggesting that, “we’ll be able to manage the natural growth of our school without having to add headcount to handle it. Bill.com easily supports our rapid growth in a very cost-effective manner which enables us to do manage more efficiently and use our dollars saved for educational hires.”

Other secondary schools, including those in GISSV’s network, have the same challenges with managing tuition collection, financial process flow and the integrating of these process into their accounting systems. Branch feels strongly that they, too, “will save time and expenses with using the Bill.com financial platform.”

Download the complete case study here

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