Do you use the invoicing in Music Teacher’s Helper? Below are some tips if you do, and a bit of encouragement to try it if you don’t. Managing a studio means running a small business, but who becomes a musician in order to run a business? MTH provides built-in guidance for the business end of a teaching studio, and invoicing can be a big help.
Tip #1: How to find the invoicing function.
Invoicing functions are found under the Billing tab, where you can select Invoicing and view Invoice History, Create Invoice(s), or work with Automatic Invoicing.
Tip #2: Preview everything.
Any time you make use of invoicing, first preview your invoice(s) by clicking the “Preview or Print” button. You need to see what the student will be seeing – does the invoice show the right dates, the right events, and does it add up to what you expect? If not, see Tip #4. Also, make sure only the invoices you want to create are showing – if there’s more than one invoice, there will be more than one page to preview.
Once you take a look at the preview, click “Go Back to Invoicing Creation” at the top of the page, so you can either revise the invoice or send/print/record it. But beware! When you go back to the Invoicing Creation page, all the boxes you checked are still checked. This includes all students boxes, which might not all be visible if you have more than 5 students. This means that if you preview one student’s invoice and then go back to check out another student’s invoice, you have to make sure to uncheck the first student or else you’ll be creating an invoice for him/her again.
Tip #3: Invoice vs Statement.
Know the difference between an invoice and a statement. The system is set up by default to create an invoice, which is a bill for services – only what the student owes during the time period selected (by default, the current month). But if you check off the right boxes, it can be set up to display a statement, which is a record of everything the student did financially during that time period – how much they owed at the beginning of the period, what they are being charged, how much they’ve paid, and what they currently owe as a result of all this.
An invoice will show what the student owes, but not what they’ve paid. This is easily remedied, if you wish – just check off the box “Show Payments.” If you want to show how much they owed at the beginning of the period, check off the box “Show Previous Balance and Date Range.” You really have to check off this box if the student owes something, or has a credit, going into the current month (or the time period you’ve selected); otherwise the invoice will only show what they owe this month regardless of any previous balance. All the option boxes that you can check off in creating an invoice are explained in the Help section’s Knowledge Base at this link.
But remember Tip #2! If you check off boxes, be sure to preview before sending the invoice!
If you send invoices to all of your students, you will probably want to set up the invoice as a statement, including the previous balance, and all payments and charges. Unless you check off the box “Create invoices/statements even if amount due is zero”, the only invoices that will be created are the ones where a student owes you, or has a credit.
Tip #4: Accuracy counts.
Be sure the invoice shows the correct events and amounts. A student’s invoice will display all of that student’s lessons/classes for the month (or other time period selected). Make sure you entered them all! The invoice is not just for asking for money but also for displaying what the student is paying for. It can serve to confirm the lessons that have been scheduled. Make sure those lessons are entered with the correct amount due for each one – each lesson and amount owed will show up under “Lesson Charges” on the invoice. Or perhaps you charge a flat rate for the month – this shows up above “Lesson Charges” in the “Fees and Credits” section. Both these options come from the profile of the student, where you can choose to set either a flat rate or a per-lesson charge.
If after previewing the invoice, you find some errors in events, whether in amounts charged or in the descriptions or dates of the events, just go back to the calendar and fix those entries, and try again. No harm done (unless you clicked “Do it!” to save the invoice (or email it to the student). If you hit “Do it!” by accident, see Tip #5.
Tip #5: Viewing/deleting Invoices.
When you click “Do it!” your invoice(s) will be saved and if you checked off the radio button to email it to your student, that will be done as well. To look at the invoice, or to see if it was made, go to Billing tab, Invoicing, Invoice History. Here you can see what invoices you created, when, and when they were sent to the student. You’ll want to click the “View” link to see the invoice, and that’s when you can delete the invoice if you need to, by using the Options box to the right.
Tip #6: Invoice everyone or only as needed?
If you send invoices/statements to all your students every month, you probably will want to set this up to happen automatically. I personally only use automatic invoicing for a few students who have a flat monthly rate and requested the invoices so they can pay online (the “Make Payment” link at the bottom right of the invoice makes this easy and accurate). I send manual invoices to students who have missed a payment or are confused about charges.
An invoice serves many purposes: it’s a request for money, an explanation of charges, an easy way for a student to pay you online, and makes it easy for a student to mail you a check, since your name and address is displayed in the upper left.
For manual invoices, I usually send a separate email to the student telling them I sent the invoice and that there is a payment link in the lower right corner.
Tip #7: Automatic invoicing.
This can be found under the Create Invoice(s) option. Once you are familiar with creating invoices, this option is fairly self-explanatory, but be careful to keep in mind the date range you set for your automatic invoices. I had one student who hadn’t paid by mid-month and he normally gets an automatic invoice the first of the month. I realized later that the date range for his automatic invoices had expired!
You may well have other tips, or comments, or questions – if so, please add a comment below! I look forward to hearing from you.