The Cashless School:
Advice from those that made it happen.
Barker College, Knox Grammar School and St Josephs College Gregory Terrace are some of the pioneering schools to transition to a cashless campus environment in Australia. In this article the Bursars and Canteen Managers share their experience of transitioning to a cashless system, with advice for those looking to do the same.
Why schools are going cashless
As we move towards a cashless society, many schools are seeking to use innovative technology to remove cash from the school campus and generate efficiencies. The Flexischools Online Ordering and Cashless Card System can be used for all school services including the tuckshop, uniform shop, school event tickets, fees, stationery packs, fundraising, raffle tickets, photocopying and more.
The cashless schools conveyed the following benefits of removing cash from their school services:
- Improved duty of care by removing cash handling risks
- Greater parental control over spending
- Improved sales reporting and financial accounting
- Increased throughput by removing canteen congestion
- Time saving for retail managers
Barker College decided to go cashless in their tuckshops using a combination of cards and online ordering in 2008. The main impetus for the move was to increase staff and student safety as their four tuckshops were processing a lot of orders which meant a lot of cash handling and storage.
Pascal Perrotin, Catering Manager says ‘It has been absolutely fantastic. A lot of schools have come to see us. In the first year of introducing the cards the Barker College tuckshops we saw a strong growth of customer numbers and sales.
The cards are so quick to scan that they dramatically reduced our queues which means we are able to increase our throughput. The school has seen a yearly increase in sales since going cashless’.
Barker College has also appreciated the increased information that the school and parents can now access about student purchases. The canteen can source detailed information about their product sales and trading times and the parents can limit the student funds and track their purchases.
Knox Grammar School
Knox Grammar School went cashless in their tuckshops to help to reduce checkout congestion and to increase parental control over student spending. Byron Cullen, Business Manager, explains “We wanted to reduce the amount of cash being held by the boys and increase the speed by which lunches could be acquired. We also wanted to give parents more control over the lunch choices for their boys”.
Knox also experienced an increase in canteen processing speed and security after their school went cashless. “The card system has fast-tracked the time taken for boys to choose their lunch, settle their account with their student ID card and exit the canteen area”, says Byron. The cumulative effect of this improvement has meant drastically reduced queuing times and increased throughput each lunchtime. Their canteen is now taking 90% less cash each day and daily bank trips have been all but eliminated.
“The move to the online system was a win for the school, the parents and the students. Lunches are pre-ordered by parents who choose what food their son eats and the faster distribution of the lunches means more time for the boys to play”, says Byron.
St Joseph's College Gregory Terrace
St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace wanted to remove cash handling to enhance their duty of care to both students and parents. Adam Read, Business Manager, explains ‘we wanted parents to have information about what their children were purchasing at school and reduce the risk of students losing cash. We also wanted to be able to generate our own tuckshop reports for auditing purposes as we use an external caterer’.
How to ensure a smooth transition to a cashless system
The cashless schools have provided the following tips to ensure a smooth transition away from cash:
- Visit or talk to other schools with a cashless system to learn from their experience
- Provide parents with adequate notice and information
- Have a transition period during which you continue to accept cash until a set date
- Choose a reputable, experienced cashless payment system provider
Moving to a cashless operation requires the engagement and co-operation of the whole school community. At Knox Grammar School, parents were given several weeks’ notice and asked to set up an account with Flexischools. A further notice was provided in the week prior to implementation. “We allowed a transition period where both cash and card were used but then stopped allowing cash after Week 6. Since then, parents have received the new system enthusiastically”, says Byron.
Choosing a partner to implement the cashless program was an important consideration. Knox Grammar School and Barker College both decided on Flexischools, Australia’s leading provider of online ordering and card payment systems for schools, due to their proven experience and reputation for post-sales service. Pascal Perrotin expressed his satisfaction with the Flexischools service ‘Whatever Flexischools has offered they have delivered. It has been a good working partnership’.