Do you hate dealing with admin as much as me?
As a tutor the most enjoyable of my profession is teaching actual lessons and seeing the progress of my students.
Let's be honest.
Admin just gets in the way, but unfortunately it’s a necessary evil.
I’m talking about writing and sending invoices, scheduling, chasing up students who haven’t paid etc.
I recently worked out that I used to spend 20 minutes a day on tasks such as e-mailing/calling parents, entering pupils for exams, chasing late payments and scheduling. Out of curiosity, I calculated this over the course of one year...
20 minutes a day x 365 days = 7300 minutes a year / 60 = 121 hours a year!
I almost fell off my piano stool.
Use tutoring business software to reduce your admin
So in January of this year I decided to do something about it.
One morning, I heard a radio ad from a company called Xero which claimed to offer “beautiful accounting software”
Accounting software AND beautiful?
I wouldn’t normally associate these two things together!
However, out of curiosity I visited their website and signed up for a FREE month trial.
In a nutshell, it offers online cloud accounting software for small businesses.
It’s designed to make things a lot easier and faster for..,
- sending invoices
- checking payments.
- sending email reminders for late payments
- completing tax returns
The interface is fairly straight forward to use. After you login, you have various options in the navigation bar.
Save time creating invoices
The ‘Accounts’ tab is where you create and send invoices.
In this section, you can also connect your bank account with Xero. This means you can reconcile payments made by students.
Alternatively, you can just upload your monthly bank statement and the software can find payments based on student’s name, date, amount, invoice number, and then reconcile them.
I use this option from time to time.
You can also put in expense claims here. For example, text books, stationery and travel costs can be added this section.
Not only is Xero useful for the day to day running of your teaching business, it can also make it much easier when you do your annual tax return.
As it has a record of all your income and costs, it’s such a time saver and makes things a lot smoother if you do your tax return yourself, or send the required documents to an accountant.
The ‘Contacts’ tab is where you can add all your students information in. The section is quite detailed but you only need to enter a student's first name, last name and email address.
You can also split up contacts into various groups if you wish.
The ‘Settings’ tab contains lots of different options but you only really need this section when you first sign up.
You can create your invoice template here, include your address and payment terms.
And you only need to do this one time!
Automatic email reminders for non-payment
Also in this section you can set up email reminders for students who haven’t paid. You can send as many reminders as you like, after any number of days, and you can chose what you say in the emails, which can be sent as a template.
You can use a number of different parameters in your email template, such as first name, amount, invoice date etc.
Here’s an example of one of my reminders...
Just a reminder that the piano lessons invoice for [Currency Symbol][Amount Due Without Currency] was due on [Due Date].
If you've already paid it, please ignore this email.
To view your bill visit this link... [Online Invoice Link]
If you've got any questions about this invoice, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Many thanks, Martyn
The bits in brackets change depending on who the student is, how much they owe, link to their invoice (in case they missed it the first time)
Pretty useful eh?
If you like, you can get more and more aggressive the more reminders you have to send!
Save time sending emails by using a template
You can also create your main email for sending out invoices.
Please find an invoice attached for piano lessons this term.
Could you use [Invoice Number] as a payment reference?
You can view the invoice by clicking this link... = > [Online Invoice Link]
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Many thanks, [Trading Name]
These features just by themselves can save you some time each week.
But for me the most useful feature of Xero is sending invoices all in one go.
You can download an Excel spreadsheet template from Xero which you can fill in with your students names, number of lessons, amounts, due date, reference number etc
Then with a click of a button you can upload all this data into Xero and it will create all the invoices for you, which you email to all your students.
What a time-saver!
You can then just amend this Excel document when you need to send more invoices and repeat the process.
For me, this has single-handedly saved hours of time creating invoices and sending emails to students.
And when you factor in chasing up payments and reminder emails, you’re saving even more time!
So is Xero the right software for your tutoring business?
In my opinion Xero offers a superb solution for tutors.
Is it perfect?
Well no. It would nice if it could help with scheduling, but I’m happy doing this using my own spreadsheet in Excel. Some things can’t really be automated and when parents want to change the lesson time, or if you need to move things around, you’ve got to do this yourself (unless you want to hire a PA!)
You get a FREE month trial to start with, so you can play around with it and see if it’s useful for you and your tutoring business, and after that prices start from around £10 a month ($9 for US clients)
Is it worth paying this every month?
Only you know what's best for you and your business.
But I would ask this...
How much do you value your time?
I would say using Xero saves me (on average) around 7 hours of admin time a month.
That’s 7 hours where I can now teach more students which brings in more money into my piano teaching business.
So not only is the monthly fee tax deductable, you can actually earn more money from your business by using this software!
If you’d like to learn more about Xero, click the link below and sign up for a FREE trial.
Please note – I’m proud to be an affiliate for Xero and consider to be the best tutoring business software. This means that if you purchase via a link on this page, I’ll earn a commission (without you paying anything more, of course!). This is money I spend, for example, on hosting and running this website.