5 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Membership Payment Collection
When looking for a company to manage your Direct Debits, it’s important to do your research and find the one which is going to work best for you and make the perfect partnership. Here are some key questions to get your discussion going and compare different providers with one another. In addition, we’ve added some follow-up and related questions. As this series of blogs goes on, we may expand some of these questions into full articles.
Furthermore, we’ve highlighted one follow-up question we deemed to be particularly important when you are considering your checklist of questions for any potential membership payment management collection company.
1. How can I sign up customers?
The importance of this question cannot be overstated and as such we’ve placed it first on our list of must-ask questions when it comes to looking for a company to manage your Direct Debits.
Signing up customers to your gym’s payment scheme is one of the most important steps of the entire process and in this age of automated, easy access gyms it is important that the process be as streamlined as possible.
Streamlined not just for the customer but for you, the owner. Neither side wants to be dealing with tedious forms or complex websites when a customer is trying to sign up to a new gym. This is where your initial research will be vital. It can be complex to disentangle yourself from a Direct Debit management company that isn’t well suited to you and/or your customers.
Most reputable companies will offer some form of demonstration for the service they are providing, and we would recommend noting down any of these questions that you feel might be pertinent to your concerns. In relation to this question, it is important that you are able to visualise the process slotting into the current structure of your gym. Or, alternatively, that the new structure it will usher into your Gym will be an improvement.
If during the demonstration you are starting to imagine the work-arounds and hardships that a system will bring when it comes up signing up new customers and gym members to your gym, it probably isn’t the system for you.
From the sign-up stage and through the entire lifespan of their member, the relationship with a Direct Debit Management Company has to be one that benefits you, your gym and your customers.
As such, we recommend looking for modern, hands-off, time saving measures that the company offers.
Paper free sign-up is a big one to be looking for. In this age of instant communication, there are few reasons to be shackling your customers to a physical form. With the rise of fully automated gyms, many customers simply do not have the appetite for anything as involved as a pen and paper.
Think about the space you have. How will the sign-up be occurring? On your customer’s personal phone? On an iPad or tablet presented to them by a member of your Gym’s staff? On a static computer at a reception desk? Or on a laptop balanced on the top of a Shoulder Press machine?
Make sure that the services that they provide will work for your area. If you only have enough room for mobile or tablet sign-up, then making sure they have a mobile system that allows you to do 100% of the sign-up becomes even more important.
It is also important to note the market has shifted, members are much more likely these days to sign-up to a gym online before they have even set foot in the premises. This represents new opportunities and it is important not to get left behind.
To conclude this section, your sign-up system should never feel like it is impeding your customer or your business. Sometimes the bureaucracy of signing up can feel like a necessary evil, but it is quite an unnecessary one in 2021. As we have covered, by doing your research you can ensure that the sign-up system will work for you and your customers, integrating them into your gym’s payment system as quickly as possible, with minimal administration on your side.
Follow-up questions to consider:
- How many different methods are there for customer sign-up?
- How long does the sign-up process take?
- Where can it be done?
What tools can be used to sign-up? (Phone, computer, tablet, static terminal). Does your gym have those available. How will it fit in with your existing structure?
- How does sign-up work for additional services?
2. How do I submit payments? Can This be Automated?
Submitting payments has never been easier and as such there is no reason to accept anything less than the smoothest operation when it comes to the payment collection company you use.
By looking for a company that uses direct debit collections, you are already eliminating many of the hassles associated with collecting and submitting payments. Not only is this system paper free and admin-light, it is also ripe for numerous strives towards automation, in the right hands!
By hiring a company to handle your direct debit payments, the question of how you submit a payment will become a thing of the past. With the right company, you will be in full control with only a minimal time investment. This will allow you to choose increases and decreases, payment periods, membership categories and more.
Payments will be taken by direct debit directly from your members bank account by the direct debit company, held in a secure, liminal account, ready to be paid into your account. But not before it has gone through rigorous data capture, for both security and feedback.
Which leads us effortlessly onto our next question.
3. What reporting do you provide so I can track payments?
It is the year 2021 and Data is King. The days of knowing roughly what is going into your accounts are over.
With the right direct debit payment management company, you’ll be able to take your gym’s data outputs to the next level. As we hinted at in the previous, the focus on data capture has never been more pronounced, more automatic or more automated.
This means several things for your business. It means that services that used to require significant human labour have drastically reduced in costs. This has opened up powerful reporting operations for very low charges, providing the company you link up with is ahead of the curve (excuse the graph pun).
Detailed reporting power when it comes to your cash flow has many benefits that go well beyond just the monthly pay. It will allow you to examine trends in your business, breaking down important aspects of the customer journey and potential pitfalls that are losing your members.
In addition, all that data comes in very handy when it is time to satisfy the regulators. The chances of you finding yourself with the 10pm coffee, ready to crunch numbers into the night, dramatically reduces.
Finally it will give you security, the ability to more confidently manage your business in the present and in charting out the future. When the span of data becomes years, you will be able to build a firmer picture of your business. Invaluable when it comes to creating strategies for the improvement and growth of your business.
Follow-up questions to consider:
- How are these reports delivered?
- Are direct debit payment reports generated automatically?
- Will there be an obstacle to seamless reporting? Mis-aligned Data that will require monthly or weekly human intervention?
- What software do they use?
Do they use their own software? Will it be easy for you to learn? Will you be able to transfer it if your business with the company ever comes to an end?
- Is their data usable in existing common systems Excel? SQL? Google Sheets?
- Are you comfortable using the software and data formats that they use?
- Can you integrate these new reports with your old reports to fully map your data?
4. Is it possible to integrate your system with my accounts?
This question should be firmly on your notepad or desktop post-it notes as you consider the company you want to manage your direct debit payment management.
As we discussed earlier, the year is 2021 and there is no need to generate more hassle than necessary. Any direct debit payment management company worth its salt will be able to seamlessly integrate their operation with your existing account structure (providing you don’t do all your work on Typewriter or Windows 95).
This question should be near the top of your list (as it is near the top of our list) and you shouldn’t accept anything less than ease of access, ease of use and a concerted focus on integration during setup.
Any decent direct debit payment management company will have their focus on reducing your administration workload and one of the easiest ways to manage this is by starting your relationship with them correctly.
Ask questions that will help you understand how their operation works, how they handle data and money, and how that can potentially merge with your own, existing accounts infrastructure.
The way a prospective payment management company responds to this question (and the others) will give you a good idea of how your relationship with them could pan out. If they are versatile, flexible and professional, they will have no trouble adapting to even the most rudimentary or bespoke accounting system that you may have in place.
Conversely, if their head isn’t in the game, you might quickly find yourself having to deal with more issues than they are solving for you. This is why it is vital to ask pertinent questions up front when you are scoping out the type of company.
Follow-up questions to consider:
- Is the company going to be able to deliver or present the accounting data in a format that works for your existing operation?
Will reporting be automatic or will there be a manual exchange of e-mail every month. Does this increase expense or the capacity for human error?
- What file types do they use?
5. How much do you charge per collection?
This simple question should have a simple answer for each company you approach. But the answer should have large implications to whether or not the company in question is the direct debit payment management company for you.
However, most companies will be slightly different in how they run their payment collection operation. Here we will cover several models that companies in the industry are currently using, discussing their benefits and their detriments.
Some will charge per month for a set number of users. This can be useful if your business is at capacity, or you have a solid idea of the amount of people you want using your business every month.
This can be simple, but it is imprecise. It might feel effective and intuitive to say ‘My business has under 100 members’ and therefore select the package based on that. But this can present a real challenge for growth, even in the smallest metrics. If your business suddenly goes from 100 members to 101 you might find yourself negotiating in a high tier bracket that completely wipes out the gain of that single member.
Not to mention all the hassle of renegotiating and maybe not even being able to sign them up. What started off as a simple time-saver could easily become a shackle and a burden to you and your business.
Some will go even more abstract, charging different packages based on a ‘business size’. This has advantages, you could find yourself in a favourable bracket. But it is a double-edged sword and you could find yourself just on the cusp of the next tier up and suddenly your fees will double.
In our opinion, precision is key for any fair business dealing and this logic definitely extends to a company managing your payments.
A popular model will charge per transaction and this can be useful when growing a business. This method is closer to the ground in terms of representing value.
It has an added bonus of being incredibly flexible. That situation we outlined above where a business went from 100 to 101 members and suffered for it? Under this model that situation would be of no concern whatsoever.
This situation can be reversed as well, to further show the versatility. Say that same gym from before goes back below 100. There is now a choice of paying well above the service level you are receiving or once again going down.
Given the Covid-19 pandemic that we are still feeling the effects of, you can understand why this system can sometimes generate more problems than it aims to fix.
Therefore, as you can hopefully see, the real benefit of charge per transaction system is it keeps all costs firmly linked to profits. Keeping your business model as lean as possible, ensuring there are no excess profits being lost.
Follow-up questions to consider:
- Ask about different types of collection. One-off payments for day passes might be processed differently?
- Consider asking whether the system could also be used to integrate classes, personal trainers and other add-ons. The potential costs of these features and the potential time benefits they might bring?
If the system is per transaction, ask about broader fees. Setup, processing fees?
5 More Questions to Ask
If you still have questions you want answered, we’ve put out another five questions that Gym and Fitness Club owners need to be asking when they approach Membership Payment Management Companies.
Follow this link for more questions to add to your checklist, or look below for information regarding booking a demo or talking to a member of our team!
NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT TO ASK, COME ASK US!
Unlike other direct debit payment management companies. The services that Ashbourne provides isn’t just some basic software and the ability to collect your direct debits. No, the team at Ashbourne knows that there’s a lot more to managing a successful club than simply collecting payments.
Now that we have armed you with the pertinent questions for navigating the world of payment management companies, we want you to come and ask them to our customer team.
If any of the questions and concerns we have covered resonate with you, then we might be the company for you.
If you want to chat about what we offer, or simply run through how we can help your particular health club, then get in touch with us and our team will contact you to talk things through.