August 13, 2013 by Lisa Brammer
Not long after that last Popsicle is devoured and the colors from the 4th of July fireworks fade away, there seems to be only one overwhelming focus—just walk into any mall or open any newspaper and you’re bound to see what I mean—“It’s back to school time!”
This year, it almost doesn’t feel out of place since, from where I sit, the temperatures are closer to feeling like football weather than the dog days of summer.
I have very fond memories of my school days and always felt like our school had my back. It’s easy to see why my family and I loved our school district. People who go into teaching and education are nurturing people by nature and usually tend to empathize with the families within their district. Usually this nurturing attitude is an asset to the district but sometimes these well-meaning intentions can backfire.
Meet the Smiths: The Smiths are a hardworking family who have struggled to make ends meet for almost two year. You see, Jim fell victim to the recession and has been out of work for over eighteen months. Nancy still has her job, but with only one income they are barely able to keep up with their bills. Their kids, Jon and Aaron, are both very active kids and the separate fees the school must charge for band, sports, and field trips make it even harder on Jim and Nancy’s budget. Despite the fact that money is tight, the Smiths have been able to pay all of their financial obligations by cutting back on a few luxuries—they no longer eat out at restaurants and have eliminated the premium movie channels from their cable TV subscription.
Update: I am happy to report that things are going to be turning around for the Smiths. Jim just accepted a position and will be gainfully employed starting Monday. The family can finally exhale. Yay!!
Now, say hello to the Andersons: Parents Ken and Rose, and their 2 kids Sarah and Billy. One might say the Smiths and Andersons have a lot in common. The Smiths and Andersons are in the same school district and Billy Anderson is best friends with Jon Smith which is great since they only live 3 blocks from one another. The Andersons are also a couple who work hard to provide a nice lifestyle for their family and like the Mr. Smith; Rose Anderson has spent some time out of work. Thankfully, Mr. Anderson has a good job and has been working hard to keep the family afloat—especially since purchasing a car for Sarah when she turned 16 this year.
You can now see the similarities between these two families ending. The Smiths tightened their purse strings and prioritized their needs from their wants in order to pay their bills. The Andersons, on the other hand, elected to live business as usual. They even bought a car for their beloved daughter despite the fact Mrs. Anderson hasn’t worked for over a year. There hasn’t been any money left in the Anderson’s budget to pay for the school fees their children have generated these past two years. The Anderson’s are hoping since Rose is out of work and all, the district will continue to turn a blind eye to the fact they aren’t paying their fees as promised. So far, this strategy has worked.
The problem is their school district, like the rest of us, works hard to stay on budget. With today’s economy and budget cuts, every penny counts. The fact is the district needs the money owed them—school related fees included.
When the Andersons and other families like them don’t pay their fees this usually results in an increase in the cost of these activities—causing families that pay their fees to subsidize those that don’t, or many times school districts simply subsidize those activities themselves and, at some point, it means other opportunities are lost as a result.
What if there was another way and it didn’t involve raising taxes! Third party collection agencies can be a real asset to school districts and many are seeing the advantages of partnering with a collection agency.
“What are the advantages?” you may ask:
- Your district no longer has to have that some-times awkward exchange that comes from asking for money. A reputable collection agency knows how to ask for money professionally and courteously—they understand the importance of your relationships with the families within your district.
- A collection agency can save your district the time and money it takes to have your personnel chase down the unpaid balances and with greater success.
- Some agencies let you customize a program that works for your individual district.
- No risk because there are no upfront costs. A lot of collection agencies work on a contingency basis which means no collection equals no fees.
I remember that even though I hated for summer to end, by the time that first day of school was upon us I was always excited for school to start—it was always a fresh start, a new beginning with new possibilities.
Before this year begins, you might want to contact a reputable collection agency to clean up your accounts receivable and find out what new possibilities await your school district this new school year.
United Credit Service, Inc. is a collection agency in Wisconsin that has been partnering with businesses for over 60 years. For more information please check out our website. http://www.unitedcreditservice.com.