Like most small business owners, Megan Meconi wears a lot of hats. Along with her husband, Marc Vendrell Cervantes, she runs Cincinnati Spanish School & Academy, along with 2 other locations in Ohio. The business offers quality, affordable language services locally, and aims to reach as many people as they can regardless of financial status.
They took over the Cincinnati Spanish School & Academy, which provide classes for adults and children of all ages, in 2011. Since founding, the school has grown immensely and now serves over 600 students in 3 locations. They plan to open a fourth location in 2019.
The Cincinnati Spanish School has come a long way since its inception, but Megan still remembers the stress and chaos that comes with running an early-stage business. When they first started, Megan ran the day to day operations of the business on her own, which included hiring, doing payroll, scheduling classes, managing customers and accepting payments.
Making Learning Accessible With Flexible Payment Options
Because the school was dedicated to making classes flexible and affordable, they allowed students to pay for classes over time, rather than requiring tuition to be paid in full upon registration. Megan allowed students to pay in installments by check, and kept track of who owed what in a spreadsheet because she was unable to find a solution that enabled payment plans.
“We were spending 80% of our time chasing people down to make the next payment. Instead of focusing on classes and growing the school, we were just making phone calls, leaving voicemails and sending emails.”
This approach required way too much time and energy and even resulted in lost revenue:
“People were busy. It was inconvenient for customers too. We lost revenue when people wanted to get out of the class and not pay anymore. Or, sometimes, people kept attending and didn’t pay.”
A Simple Solution—Recurring Payments
After becoming fed up with the inconvenience of hassling customers for payments, shuffling spreadsheets, waiting for checks to arrive in the mail and driving to the bank, Megan decided it was time to upgrade to an online payment system that would automate their recurring payments.
After some Googling, Megan came across an ad for PaySimple. A sales representative quickly confirmed that PaySimple could be customized to fit her unique business need—collecting recurring payments from students over a fixed time period—and Megan decided to make the leap.
Initially, Megan used PaySimple’s basic payment form feature, but when the school’s class offering became more diverse, Megan upgraded to PaySimple’s Online Store feature, allowing her to upload a catalogue of services for students to choose from and pay for all online.
“The online store enabled us to make integration with our website much easier. We weren’t spending so much time making payment forms and linking them to an antiquated website. Before, we were wearing IT hats, and now we don’t even have to do that.”
With PaySimple, rather than manually invoicing all students individually, she simply links the online store to her website and provides a selection of classes and payment options for students to choose from. They can even select and pay for school supplies, like textbooks and workbooks, at the time of payment.
Megan is able to gain valuable insights from her PaySimple reports and has even started sending students holiday cards thanks to the address information she is able to collect at time of purchase.
Time for Growth
After upgrading to PaySimple, Megan says she went from spending 80% of her time collecting payments to only about 5%.
“When we grow and open a new class, it takes a little time to get the new online store going, but once it’s done, it just runs itself. It used to be opening a new class was a lot of work. That’s simplified now.”
In addition to freeing up time which can now be spent growing the class offerings and opening new locations, Megan has seen a positive response from customers as well.
“We get feedback that paying through PaySimple is so much more convenient and more families can participate and afford our program now thanks to our payment plans. In schools where families aren’t as affluent, registration is up.”
Not only are current customers happier, prospective students are more likely to book classes now that they can pay anytime through the online store:
“When someone decides they need spanish instruction, we want to be the first service they find. If that’s at 11pm at night, if they can immediately sign up, they will do it. If they have to call and pay over the phone or remember to send a check from work the next day, then pulling the trigger isn’t as convincing.”
The Cincinnati Spanish School has been using PaySimple for over 6 years and plans to remain a loyal customer because as their business has evolved, so has PaySimple’s technology:
“Paysimple has invited us to be part of the process to improve the product and it has been phenomenal. The feedback we give and requests we make to change things are heard and this improves the product for customers and our staff.”
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