Southend High School for Boys (SHSB) had an online payment provider in place to collect catering payments but it required a lot of work to effectively integrate with the on-site point of sale tills. SHSB needed a solution that integrated with their catering contractor’s system, offered more functionality to make reconciliation simple, as well as ensuring that transactions were seamless and processes simplified.
SHSB is a prestigious grammar school in Essex, with high academic expectations, sustained through an extensive programme of support and guidance.
The legacy online payment supplier was not effectively meeting SHSB’s needs, so their cashless catering POS till supplier recommended using the cashless catering service from WisePay. WisePay offers intuitive software solutions for schools, colleges, MATs and local authorities, enabling students, parents and staff to effectively collaborate. WisePay has recognised that users today expect immediacy, so our software solutions are convenient, flexible and easy to use.
The original provider offered simple online payments without sufficient software functionality around the process, and not only struggled to integrate with the on-site point of sale tills, they also created a lot of paperwork which was becoming too time-consuming and laborious to manage. SHSB wanted to simplify ongoing administration processes.
After discussing their requirements with WisePay, SHSB started using WisePay’s cashless catering service in 2014. The payment portal takes the lunch money which is banked online, then it notifies the internal catering system that the money has been received.
WisePay carried out an initial, in-depth scoping exercise to ascertain SHBS’s specific requirements. Having implemented the ‘Cashless Catering Services’, WisePay opened SHSB’s eyes to other services.
It made sense to also move school trips and activities over to WisePay’s online service, which manages trip bookings, consents and payments. The school runs many varied trips every year, which can be specifically targeted for different year groups and classes. There is also a wide price range, from a trip to a museum to a year 7 skiing trip to Italy, for example. WisePay’s software service has additional functionality so that the trips can be divided into staged instalments if necessary, which gives added flexibility to parents. They can also clearly see what is still owing for a particular trip, and when the payment is due.
WisePay’s automatic emailing and texting service allows staff to gently chase up late payments, which can be specifically targeted to individuals or year groups. The system also has the ability to replicate a trip for the following year, so the set-up process doesn’t have to be started from scratch.
Forms and Consent Manager runs alongside trips so parents/guardians can complete information and the school can see all responses in one place, and who has or hasn’t provided relevant information.
The latest innovation that SHBS use is WisePay’s online music lesson service, for before and after school lessons. Previously, there was a manual diary booking system, which could be prone to human error. Some pupils were also attending for one or two lessons but would not continue, or make further payments. The peripatetic music teachers were committed, financially, so it didn’t make good business sense. Now that SHSB are using WisePay’s services to manage music lessons online, they can be funded properly, as parents have to buy a block of lessons in advance.
Language courses can be booked and paid for online. Courses are open to both existing students and to new students, therefore WisePay allows the school to reach additional customers, helping them to increase their revenue.
SHSB is also very close to Southend Football Ground, so the school hires out their car parking facility on match days as a means of generating additional income for the school. Previously, cash had to be taken, counted and banked, which was not easy to audit.
The school is now looking into using WisePay’s Ticket Service to give them the ability to take online payment for up to 200 car parking spaces. Ticket receipts can simply be shown on a mobile phone at the gate. The system can limit the number of car park sales to 200 so they can allocate appropriate staffing resource in advance, when there is high demand. The WisePay service allows funds to go directly to the school for simple accountability.
Once the services were implemented, WisePay provided a lot of pre-inclusive training for the technical and finance staff at SHSB. The school staff find using WisePay a very positive experience, as it allows a single point of entry and is an intuitive solution.
Making a fundamental transition to a new cashless catering system was a big consideration to SHSB but, with hindsight, it was very much worth the move. WisePay’s services have allowed SHSB to tailor their requirements to suit their needs, in a cost-effective manner. Benefits include:
“I am from a commercial background so it didn’t make sense to me that online payments were creating so much additional work. The point of a cashless system is that it is less labour-intensive. WisePay’s innovative solutions help us achieve more by doing less: a great advantage and confidence boost to the school and to the parents. We now have a proper business solution in place, not just transaction processing.
Connie, our WisePay Account Manager, is a great support. She has a consultative approach and shares her invaluable experience of successful payment systems at other schools, providing a wealth of knowledge and expertise.”
SHSB are considering using WisePay’s Smart-Booker service, integrating with SIMs, to manage their classroom and sports facility bookings. It will allow greater visibility of when classrooms and playing fields are available to hire. Finances and budgets are always pressured in the education sector, so using a WisePay service in this way will help SHSB generate additional revenue.
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