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Grandir UK is a growing group of over 81 day nurseries and preschools across the UK. Their brands include familiar names like Kiddi Caru, Maggie and Rose, and Head Start Day Nursery, among others. Grandir UK is part of the international Grandir group of 650 centres across Europe and North America.
Because Grandir UK is such a large group, oversight and streamlined processes regarding fee collection are key both for leadership, the managers and educators in their settings, and of course for the bill-payers themselves. However, those streamlined processes weren’t always in place.
There was a time when Grandir UK was having difficulty with long, drawn-out processes for collecting fees. The invoices could get confusing when changes had to be made and payments often failed due to incorrectly filled out paperwork. It just wasn’t efficient enough.
So they moved everything over to Famly.
Now, Famly’s in-app payments mean that parents and carers can pay for their child’s education and care in the same place as they receive all their correspondence from the settings. Grandir UK’s team now have a much clearer overview of bookings, funding, all the invoices going out, and all the fees coming in. Everything’s all in one place, on one platform - Famly.
I spoke to Grandir UK’s Childcare Systems Manager, Jon Tredray, and their System Training and Support Coordinator Amy Johnson, to see what a difference Famly has made.
Before Grandir UK started using Famly, the processes for invoicing and collecting fees weren’t as smooth as they could have been. With manual documents to fill in and a mix of paper-based and digital parts to the process, there was plenty of room for bottlenecks and opportunities for mistakes to happen.
“Before, it was quite complex to put children’s bookings in with all the grants and discounts, as they were all sitting in different places,” explains Jon, “Now, it's all in that one booking pattern, on one screen, in Famly - managers just put the session times and can see the booking pattern in the app. If anything changes, you just update it. It's simple, so it's much harder to get wrong.”
Avoiding simple errors at the point the information gets put in means time saved down the road for the managers, Jon, Amy, and the rest of the Grandir UK team. And, trusting the information in Famly means Jon and Amy don’t need to spend their time checking and double-checking everything any more.
“The old way, we’d create draft invoices and then spend time analysing them to make sure they were okay,” says Jon, “Then they would get sent off by the managers the settings. Now, it's just clicking a button.”
The process for payments has been streamlined for the bill-payers too. Because parents and carers pay through Famly, they receive the invoice, check their balance, and can make the payment immediately, without ever having to leave the app. Or, they can securely enter their payment details once and set an automatic payment that will be collected each month.
And, it’s about to get even more streamlined for the Grandir UK team.
”Now Famly’s brought in the automatic invoicing, which we're going to be trialling in a few months, it might not even be a click of a button,” smiles Jon, “It's getting even easier, which is great.”
One of Grandir UK’s key objectives in moving to Famly was to make things transparent and easy for parents and carers, including how they receive and pay their fees.
“It makes a big difference that parents now have access to their account and balance,” says Jon, “Before, our system was invoicing just for the current month, not including any of the previous balance. Someone could be in debt and unless they were being chased for it, they mightn’t have known about it right away. Now, it's much, much more visible - they can see their balance and pay it straight away using the in-app payments.”
Invoices themselves are clearer too, as amendments can be made on the go, during the month. Previously, Grandir UK’s system meant that something changed through the month, the team weren’t able to change the invoice to reflect that - any adjustments just went through to the following month.
“The parents would see their invoice with all the corrections at the bottom and it was just not very parent-friendly,” explains Jon, “Now, if it needs amending, you just cancel the invoice in Famly and redo it correctly. That's one of the big selling points for nursery managers as they no longer have parents asking about all adjustments at the bottom of their invoices. There are no adjustments because the invoice is correct.”
So how has this improved clarity and visibility for the bill-payers helped Jon and Amy?
“We get much fewer queries now,” says Amy, “When we do get queries that filter through from the nurseries, they tend to be things like, a parent thinking they've set up a Direct Debit, but they haven't. The difference is, we’ve now given managers the tool for them to solve these queries themselves, just by showing them where in Famly to look.”
The greatest saving for the Grandir UK team has been in time spent managing the payment processes. An entire day double-checking that invoices were correct was a lot of time for Amy and Jon to spend when they could have been doing so many other things.
“We had to pull the invoicing reports and then put them through Excel so we could pick out the incorrect invoices or the ones where they’d missed off supplement charges, for example,” says Jon, “It would take at least an entire day.”
A more efficient process for invoicing also means easier troubleshooting if something does go amiss. Fewer confused parents means less time spent investigating issues for Jon and Amy.
“Before, the parents didn't have an app with the software that we used,” explains Amy, “So it wasn't a case that they could just log in and see their fees and everything else in one place. We got more queries then but now parents can see everything for themselves.”
“With our old system, parents would ask managers to explain something on their invoice, but the managers themselves might not really understand it,” agrees Jon, “The manager would then have to speak to our support office and we’d have to look into it and get back to them. Now, it's much easier for managers to sort those queries out in Famly, without coming to us - it just saves everybody's time”
For managers too, a simple way to have oversight of all their administration and finances means less time spent battling through different programs or paperwork to find what they need. And, all that time saved is going to good use.
“Famly seems to have taken the complications out of the finance side of things - it’s taking the burden of the admin for managers so the nurseries aren’t having to spend so much time on it,” says Amy, “They've now got more time for the children and their learning journey. They probably don't want to be looking at figures and billing - they want to be spending their time with the children. They don't want to have to stay behind afterwards to pick up the admin and Famly this has taken some of that away.”
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.